5 Best K-Pop Collaborations of 2016 (So Far)

MV Crush don't forget
Courtesy Photo

[MV] Crush, "Don’t Forget feat. Taeyeon"

In 2016 more so than ever before, the South Korean music industry is fostering collaborative tracks between K-pop idols and other Korean artists. Yes, it's only two months into the year, but South Korea's charts are overflowing with sentimental collaborative efforts between some of the country's top artists. K-pop's favorite darlings, including members of groups like Girls' Generation, Block B, f(x), and EXO, are taking their finely-honed talents and putting them to work alongside Korean balladeers and hip-hop artists. 

As an alternative to the flash and flare of K-pop, these five collaborative efforts take the stylish know-how of K-pop production and combine it with jazz, R&B, and hip-hop elements. Here are five of our favorites so far.

Crush - "Don't Forget" feat. Taeyeon of Girls' Generation

Korea's answer to soul is Crush, the stirring R&B singer whose "Don't Forget" is a rhythmic promise not to forget the good times even after the love is gone. With a snappy beat and simple instrumentals backing up Crush's crooning, the song is a mid-tempo ballad that doesn't need subtitles to get its point across. The song builds up before coming to a momentary halt, where the lovestruck Crush is met by one of K-pop's most expressive female vocalist, Girls' Generation's Taeyeon. The song finds its home when the pair comes together, Taeyeon's delicate voice joining with Crush's rising declaration. These two vocalists perfectly harmonize on this beautiful duet.

Suzy (miss A) x Baekhyun (EXO) – "Dream"

Following last year's funky dance hits "Only You" and "Call Me Baby" from miss A and EXO, respectively, two members of the popular groups slow things down on this jazzy song. Suzy, South Korea's darling, and Baekhyun, one of EXO's key singers, combine their soft vocals to conjure feelings of young love -- and the harmonies prove to naysayers that the two are more than just pretty faces. Needless to say, the melodious, groovy song and the popularity of the stars has ensured the success of "Dream"; the song was the most viewed K-pop video around the world in January.

Zico (Block B) - "It Was Love" feat. Luna [f(x)]

Within the realm of K-pop, ongoing collaborative efforts between artists on different music labels are far and few between, but Zico isn't taking a break from working with f(x). In 2015, the underground rapper-turned-K-pop star featured on f(x)'s "Traveler" off of their phenomenal 4 Walls album. Then Zico surprised the world in January with the sentimental EP Break Up 2 Make Up featuring "It Was Love," a sentimental Zico-produced track featuring f(x)'s Luna as a soloist. Luna's sorrowful ballad is raised to airy, emotional heights by Zico's simple composition, highlighting the rapper's growth as a producer. The song is everything a despondent love song should be.

K.Will – "You Call It Romance" feat. Davichi

Neither balladeer K.Will nor vocal duo Davichi are typical K-pop stars, but the three singers have released hit after hit in South Korea. Coming together for "You Call It Romance," the three create a whimsical springtime love song with bouncy, lighthearted accompaniment. The swaying tune and playful vocals belie the desperate lyrics of a narrator who needs to be loved wholeheartedly by the object of his or her affection. K.Will and Davichi's blended harmonies will make the most disheartened listeners believe in the magical possibilities of romance.

D.O (EXO) x Yoon Young Jin – "Tell Me (What Is Love)"

Before anyone knew how big of an impact EXO would have, its fans knew about the group's evocative "What Is Love." The song was released before the group's first album and formal debut MAMA, but it solidified the group's vocal talent as a rising K-pop act. No member has run with the legacy of "What Is Love" more than vocalist D.O, who joined up with SM Entertainment producer Yoon Young Jin earlier this month to release an R&B track. The duet is the direct descendent of "Sorry Sorry Answer" by labelmates Super Junior, another song that was reworked into soulful perfection following its initial release as a pop ballad. "Tell Me (What Is Love)" takes the soulfulness of the original "What Is Love" from 2012 and attaches it to D.O and Yoon Young Jin's rich vocal colors, adding haunting synths and pulsating beats to create one of the sultriest songs ever put out by a K-pop act.

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