Song and Singer of the Year: “Start with BTS, end with BTS” — According To K-Pop Industry Insiders

To mark the 17th anniversary of its foundation, Joy News 24, a high-quality entertainment business magazine, conducted a survey from Oct 12th to 19th, asking about the best dramas, movies, actors, singers, and entertainment programs of 2021. 200 participants, including entertainment companies and broadcasters staff, film and broadcast content producers, and entertainment reporters, participated in the survey (multiple responses are possible). The survey results are introduced by sector.

Who can beat the global superstar BTS? 2021 was the year of BTS.

BTS’s brilliant challenges and meaningful steps continued this year. Every song released by them, such as “Butter,” “Permission to Dance,” and “My Universe” (collaborated with Coldplay), topped the Billboard Hot100,  proving to be the world’s best group both in name and reality.

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In a survey by Joy News 24, BTS also proved their momentum by the overwhelming amount of votes in the 2021 Power People, Best Song, and Best Singer categories.

◆ BTS, “Singer of the Year”…Popularity of IU, Lim Youngwoong, aespa.

There was no unexpected change. When asked “Who is the best singer of 2021?“, BTS topped the list with overwhelming votes. They were selected as the “best singer” with 152 votes out of 200 respondents.

BTS has solidified their position as a “global superstar.” They dominated the Billboard chart again this year and proudly settled in the mainstream American culture by taking steps into the Grammy Awards. Although their footstep has been halted by the pandemic, BTS, which has expanded their base in the global music market, is once again facing a turning point. They recently resumed offline concerts in the U.S. in November.

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IU’s popularity was also strong. IU came in second with 14 votes. At the end of her 29-year-old and 14th year since her debut, she has been drawing musical narratives step by step by releasing a new album. Having released “Lilac,” which contains the years of her twenties, she once again met the public expectations with “Strawberry Moon”. IU dominated the music chart even with the “risk” of releasing a new song at 12 p.m., which is not reflected on the chart, proving her value and confidence as a musician.

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aespa came in third with 12 votes, reaffirming that they are the best rookie and a popular girl group. aespa, who debuted in November last year, became a group that leads the K-pop trend less than a year later. They has built their own territory with experimental songs such as “Next Level” and “Savage” in their unique worldview, including avatar members that exist in a virtual reality. “Next Level”, announced in May, is still on the “long run,” and “Savage” has also made consecutive hits. Savage has sold more than 500,000 copies and is making a spectacular record, entering the highest ranking among K-pop girl groups on the U.S. Billboard’s main chart “Billboard 200.”

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Fourth place was singer Lim Young-woong, the winner of “Mr. Trot.” Lim Young-woong, who made a great contribution to the trot boom, scored 9 votes in the survey. The trot market was considered a barren land but Lim Young-woong has completely risen to the surface of popular culture while leading a fandom as much as that of an idol.

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The popular group NCT came in fifth with seven votes. Just by looking at the sales of NCT DREAM and NCT 127 albums, you can see the firepower of their global fandom. NCT DREAM became a triple million seller, surpassing 3 million cumulative album sales, including repackage with “Hot Sauce.” NCT 127 sold 2.27 million copies with their third regular album “Sticker”, and ranked third in the U.S. “Billboard 200” this year, the highest in K-pop.

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Lee Moo-jin and Jeon So-mi each won four votes. In addition, Yerin Baek, Stray Kids, SEVENTEEN, AKMU, and MONSTA X were also named.

◆ BTS vs BTS. The song of the year is “Butter”.

In the battle between BTS and BTS, “Butter” has become the final winner. 

BTS’s “Butter” topped the “2021 Best Song” with 76 votes out of 122 respondents. “Butter” is a song that conquered various global charts when it was released. In particular, the song, which went straight to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 for the seventh consecutive week, has topped the chart 10 times and holds the title of “2021 Hot 100 Most No.1 Song.” BTS’s “Permission to Dance” ranked fourth (11 votes) while “My Universe,” which collaborated with Coldplay, ranked seventh (6 votes).


Songs from girl groups like aespa who debuted this year and Brave Girls who just bounced back from the bottom also caught the attention of the public.

aespa’s single ‘Next Level’ released in May came in at second place with 46 votes. ‘Next Level’ is a song that combines aespa’s avatar worldview and unique style, while creating an ‘explosion’ with an addictive chorus and unique style.

Following ‘Next Level’, Brave Girls’ “Rollin”, which suddenly went viral this year, took third place with 14 votes. ‘Rollin’ is a song released by Brave Girls in March 2017, and it has topped the music charts four years after its release. A compilation of footage from their performances of their song “Rollin'” at South Korean military camps was uploaded to YouTube in late February. The video featured witty captions and comments like, “If we play this song at the front lines, victory is ours,” alongside scenes of South Korean soldiers frantically cheering and dancing to the upbeat track. The video has since garnered more than 13.5 million views and over 38,000 comments, causing Brave Girls’ popularity to skyrocket.

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IU proved that she is the queen of digital when 3 songs entered the ‘Song of the Year’ nomination list: 5th ‘Lilac’ (9 votes), 7th “Celebrity” (6 votes) and Blooming (2 votes). Lee Moo-jin’s “Traffic Light” received 7 votes and AKMU’s “Falling” received 6 votes.

In addition, answers such as MSG Wannabe’s “I Can Only Watch,” Jeon Somi’s “Dumb Dumb,” TWICE’s “Alcohol-Free” got 3 votes each, NCT 127’s “Sticker,” Sandeuul’s “Slightly Tipsy,” Baek Yerin’s “Walking,” On & Off’s “Beautiful Beautiful,” and DAY6’s “Right Through Me” also appeared as well.

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