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BTS, IU, Zico & More: A Look Back at Billboard's K-Pop 100 Chart in 2020 and All Its Big Players

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J-Hope, Suga, V, Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, RM of BTS perform onstage for the 2020 American Music Awards on November 22, 2020 in South Korea.

Thanks to COVID-19, the year 2020 was a series of cancellations and delays. It was unprecedented in every way.

The challenges were felt over at Billboard Korea, with the difficult decision to scrap Hip-hop Live made a day before the event, scheduled for Jan. 31.

The social distance between audience and musicians is still maintained as the calendar flips to 2021. As the unwanted isolation prolonged, more musicians sought to quench their musical thirst in their own ways by making more music, performing live on social media and constantly interacting with their fans via virtual means.

For music fans, the music in 2020 was been like a family you can’t visit and a friend that’s dearly missed. According to a research by Korea Broadcast Advertising Corporation, we saw a significant increase in the use of streaming service (33% in video and 32% in music) during the year, which tells us how much we rely on music.

Billboard Korea looked back on the 52-week Billboard K-Pop 100 chart and picked out some of the music that provided us relief during this tough time.

The popularity of “METEOR” by CHANGMO, which peaked at the end of 2019, continued in 2020. “Start Over”, a soundtrack of the popular TV series Itaewon Class, definitely helped many of us kick off the new year with an exciting start. In the spring, Zico’s “Any Song” amped up the fun of TikTok challenges while others found themselves reminisce with loads of ‘oldies but goodies’ from Hospital Playlist.

The summer was without any real vacations but we were taken on a retro tour instead with SSAK3 and Refund Sisters. The exhilarating news of “Dynamite” making  history when it hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 was like an oasis in the pandemic-filled desert of 2020.

Besides BTS, many other K-Pop artists carved their ways well into the global market this year, including BTS, Seventeen, NCT127, IZ*ONE, Twice, BLACKPINK and Monsta X.

Some might ask for a "refund" on the year 2020 but the year was also filled with memories and notable recordings. Here is Billboard Korea's recap on the records that caught our ears in a year like no other.

IU

There are songs that draw as much attention as the No.1s when the Billboard K-Pop 100 comes out on every Tuesday – these are the songs that solidly hold their positions on the chart no matter what. IU and Paul Kim are the artists who released such songs and boasted their steady popularity.

The Billboard K-Pop 100 is issued a total of 52 times a year (52 weeks) and IU has had three of her songs, “Love poem”(peaked at No. 8), “Blueming”(peaked at No. 3), and “Through the Night” (peaked at No. 22), on the chart for all those weeks. Having a song on the chart for a whole year is something that happens occasionally, but to chart three songs for 52 weeks is definitely a rare event. In fact, Paul Kim would have enjoyed the same glory as IU but his “So Long” was charted off on the final week of December, which left him with only two songs, “Every day, Every Moment” and “Me After You” on the chart for a full 52 weeks. It’s especially noteworthy that “Every day, Every Moment”, a soundtrack of a TV series Should We Kiss First?, is still on top 50 today, some two years after the show ended. While TV shows usually help put artists on the map, this is the opposite case where the show is remembered much longer than usual thanks to the artist.

Songs Charting for 52 Weeks in 2020:

IU “Love poem”, “Blueming”, “Through the Night”, Paul Kim “Every day, Every Moment”, “Me After You” AKMU “How can I love the heartbreak, you`re the one I love”
Beom June Jang “Your Shampoo Scent In The Flowers”
BTS “Boy With Luv”
TAEYEON “Four Seasons”
Red Velvet “PSYCHO”
Noel “Late Night”
Yerin Baek “SQUARE (2017)”
MAKTUB “TO YOU MY LIGHT”

BTS

The longest No. 1 on the Billboard K-Pop 100 goes to “Dynamite” by BTS. The boyband held its reign with the song for 17 consecutive weeks including the final week of 2020 (the chart dated Dec. 26th). The song also achieved a No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, on the Global 200 and the Global Excl. U.S. 200. The success of BTS doesn't stop here. “On”, lifted from MAP OF THE SOUL : 7, released back in February, was a hit. With this record, BTS has the most No. 1 songs (2 songs) as well as the longest No. 1 song (20 weeks).

If it weren’t for the success of “Dynamite” in the second half of 2020, the title of "Best Song" would have gone to IU and ZICO. They both stayed at No.1 for six weeks – IU with “eight” and Suga as a featured artist and ZICO with “Any Song”. A total of 11 songs made to the top this year and all of them still remain on the chart.

No. 1 Songs of 2020 :
BTS “Dynamite”(17 weeks)
IU “eight (featuring SUGA of BTS)”(6 weeks)
ZICO “Any song”(6 weeks)
SSAK3 “Beach Again”(5 weeks)
Gaho “Start Over”(4 weeks)
BLACKPINK “How You Like That”(4 weeks)
BTS “ON”(3 weeks)
CHO JUNG SEOK “Aloha”(3 weeks)
Changmo “METEOR”(2 weeks)
Bloo “Downtown Baby”(1 week)
OH MY GIRL “Nonstop”(1 week)

OH MY GIRL

Most Top 10, as it suggests, refers to songs that have made to the top 10 on the most occasions. In some ways, it’s more challenging than making No. 1 on the chart as the song would have to be consistently popular. And the song that made the cut is OH MY GIRL’s “Dolphin”, which ranked inside the Top 10 for 21 weeks. One of the tracks from the album NONSTOP, released on April 27, “Dolphin” debuted at No. 42 on the chart dated May 2, and lifted to No. 9 the following week. According to Billboard Korea's chart experts, “songs with small fluctuations are more likely to stay on the chart longer than the ones that achieve No. 1”, and “the fact that OH MY GIRL No. 1 title song 'Nonstop' is currently in a lower ranking than “Dolphin” reflects this pattern very well”.

The next Most Top 10 song is Hwasa’s “Maria” with a record of 19 consecutive weeks after debuting at No. 23 (on the chart dated July 4th). It’s unlucky, coming up against a barrage of hits. It first lost to BLACKPINK’s “How You Like That” and then to SSAK3 for five weeks. After showing a downward trend, it found a second wind and finally reached No. 2 behind BTS' “Dynamite”. Although it never got to be the best, “Maria” proved to be a strong hit by being on top 10 for 19 weeks in a row.

Zico

Not all No.1s are the same. We have songs that slowly worked their way up to the top, the ones that blasted straight to the top, and songs that only briefly enjoyed the crown; every leader has a different story based on how it made it to the top and for how long. One can say Zico’s “Any Song” was quite special in that respect. It rose to No. 1 immediately after the release (on the chart dated Jan. 18), making it the only song to debut at No. 1 this year. (BTS’ “Dynamite” entered the chart at No. 51 and then rose to No. 1) It’s a notable success given that it was the week when other smash hits like Yerin Baek’s “Here I Am Again”, Taeyeon’s “Dear Me”, and BTS’ “BLACK SWAN” were introduced. What’s even more remarkable was that it stayed atop for six weeks amidst these powerful hits.

Meanwhile, there are a few songs that were unlucky to miss out on a No. 1 debut – IZ*ONE’s “FIESTA”, BLACKPINK’s “Lovesick Girls”, Return Sisters’ “DON’T TOUCH ME” and BTS’ “Life Goes On”.

aespa

We saw a wave of new K-Pop groups that made their early steps into the industry, including TREASURE, YG Entertainment’s biggest new act in four years and aespa, SM’s newest all-girl group in six years, following Red Velvet. Plan A Entertainment also introduced a new girl group, Weekly, for the first time in nine years after Apink.

Hitmaker Black Eyed Pilseung (Choi Kyu-sung and Radod) joined the force and launched a girl group named STAYC. Also rating a mention are woo!ah!, SECRET NUMBER, CRAVITY, P1Harmony, DRIPPIN, ENHYPEN and, of course Pengsoo, who released “This is Pengsoo” with hopes of making it to the Billboard chart.

So how did all these new artists do this year? aespa, STAYC, Pengsoo, CRAVITY, and Kyoungseo all successfully entered the Billboard K-Pop 100 with aespa debuting at No. 33, the highest position any new artist ranked during the year. aespa’s debut song also ranked 100th on the Billboard Global 200 only three days after its release, recording the highest position among K-Pop artist debut songs, proving global interest in the new group.

Meanwhile, STAYC's “SO BAD” debuted at No. 90 on the Billboard K-Pop 100 and stayed on the chart for four weeks, showing steady popularity. Pengsoo debuted at No. 37 and lasted for two weeks on the chart while CRAVITY’s “Flame” appeared for a week on the chart at No.97. Kyoungseo, the only female solo artist who debuted this year, released a remake of Kiroy Y’s “Shiny Stars” and entered the chart at No. 54.

Itawon Class

An interesting fact about the K-Pop chart is that many of the top ranking songs are the soundtracks of popular TV series. Among these include Itaewon Class, Crash Landing on You, and Hospital Playlist, which entered the chart for the first time. Hotel del Luna’s “So Long”, Melo Is My Nature’s “Your Shampoo Scent In The Flowers”, Should We Kiss First?’s “Every day, Every Moment”, and Guardian: The Lonely and Great God’s “I will go to you like the first snow” all remain popular even after the shows had come to an end.

Itaewon Class and Hospital Playlist are the most successful of the bunch. Itaewon Class charted six songs including Gaho’s “Start Over”, Kim Feel’s “Someday, The Boy”, and Ha Hyun-woo’s “Diamond.” Twelve songs from Hospital Playlist made their way on the chart, including Kwon Jin-ah’s “Lonely Night”, Joy’s “Introduce me a good person”, and Jo Jung-suk’s “Aloha”. The most successful soundtrack is “Start Over”, which held onto No. 1 for four weeks. “Aloha” didn’t do half bad by leading the chart for three weeks. Hospital Playlist charted the most songs and was well received by listeners of all ages for its remakes of popular 90s hits.

Bloo

Watching some of the old songs make their biggest “comeback” on the chart definitely added more fun. Remakes of Rain's “Gang”, Shin Hyo-bum’s “I Knew I Love”, and DEUX’ “In Summer” trust the originals back into the spotlight while other old hits drew attention with the artists’ comebacks. Im Chang-jung’s newest LP Love should not be harsh on you boosted many of his hits (“Love Again”, “Soju Hanjan”, “The Love I Committed”, “There has never been a day I haven't loved you.”) and earned him a chance to appear on Hidden Singer6, which also helped with the ranking. The biggest beneficiary of a TV show just has to be Bloo’s “Downtown Baby”.

When Lee Hyori sang his song on Hangout with Yoo?, it created a sensation and eventually saw the song debut at No.6 on June 20. Next week it went to No. 1. It was the only "comeback" song that achieved a No. 1, and it stayed on top 10 for eight weeks making it the greatest "comeback" song of the year.

Standing Egg’s “Old Song” has also been securing its position on top 20, thanks to TV Chosun’s Romantic Call Centre where Lim Young-woong did a cover of the song. Following the airing of the show, the original version by Standing Egg debuted at No.90 (on the chart dated Aug. 15th). Additionally, Lee Sora’s "The Wind Blows" released back in 2004 made its first appearance on the chart in 16 years after the song was featured on Hidden Singer 6 while Sugar Man helped SeeYa’s hits from 14 years ago make a comeback on the chart.

Comeback songs of 2020:
Bloo “Downtown Baby”
RAIN “GANG”
Lim ChangJung “Love Again”, “Soju Hanjan”, “The Love I Committed”, “There has never been a day I haven't loved you”
SeeYa “Lovely Sweet Heart”, “Scent of a Woman”, “Crazy Love Song”
Shin Hyo Bum, “I Knew I Love”
DAY6 “You Were Beautiful”
Lee Sora “The Wind Is Blowing”
Deux “In Summer”
Standing Egg “Old Song”