K-pop was made for big groups with a lot of members. This approach is basically seen only in the East, so we almost don't have any groups in the other parts of the world left! What makes the whole thing even better is that these artists have the absolute freedom to release solo material while they're in a group! Hence, 2021 was a perfect year for K-pop ladies to show off their talents as soloists. So these top ten musicians are really worth listening to!
Chungha isn't a brand new soloist since she might be the most beloved one in K-pop for years already! However, she is another artist that released her first full album in 2021 – "Querencia." Among 21 tracks, you'll find iconic ones that you already know, such as "Dream of You" and "Play," but also the new records!
Actually, Querencia is the Spanish word for the part of a bullring where the bull takes its stand, so Chungha highlighted her bold side on this album! After "Flourishing," "Offset," and other mini-albums, Chungha found the way to celebrate her solo career and proved that she isn't going anywhere – she's here to last!
If we had to name two of the most prominent names in the solo K-pop industry, Sunmi would stand next to Chungha as someone who's already big. Sunmi is also the most notable name from the disbanded Wonder Girls. This group was at the top at its time, so it's impressive that Sunmi has stayed in focus for years now.
Hence, Sunmi didn't have a revolutionary release for her career in 2021 since she already has solo hits from previous years. Nevertheless, her single album "Tail" and the EP "1/6" consists of six tracks focused on retro-pop. This genre took over the charts worldwide, so Sunmi follows the trends!
8. Rosé (from BLACKPINK)
While some artists broke free from the boundaries and released their solos casually, the BLACKPINK members are still under their label's restrictions. Consequently, Rosé had to wait for years to unleash her own solo material. Her fans were starving for the project she finally revealed in the first part of 2021!
The single album "-R-" consists of two tracks, "On the Ground" and "Gone," with the first one being promoted as an upbeat ballad and "Gone" as a pure emotional moment. Both songs go well with Rosé's delicate, sweet personality, even though some fans were a bit disappointed in the record's production. When you wait too long, your expectations become high!
"You will never ever find another lover like me," says CL in her lead single off "Alpha." This solo album was released in 2021, and it perfectly resembles her dominant nature! You'll never ever find another soloist like her, too, since her charisma and rap skills stand out. Ever since 2NE1, she's been the most famous female artist - she even collaborated with PSY!
CL's "Alpha" is packed with iconic bops, which show that the rapper never lowered her standards. Many of these songs were also singles, and have music videos, so she basically made all the songs as good as title track material. From "Xai" to "Tie a Cherry," all the tracks have massive potential!
6. Joy (from Red Velvet)
After a more prolonged hiatus, Red Velvet came back in 2021 with "Queendom," a group album. However, 2021 will be remembered way better for the solo projects that the two famous members of the group released. Joy is the one who even topped the charts on her own! Her remake album "Hello" contains six songs that you might already know, but Joy gave them a different vibe!
It's challenging to highlight the best moments on this record, but the final song, "Be There for You," has to be the most gorgeous attempt to combine sweet melodies with romantic lyrics. "Be There for You" will be stuck in your head, but Joy worked on ballads like "Day By Day" as well. You'll also adore the sweetness of "Je T'aime" and "If Only" - Joy has set a bar high for anyone who wants to cover iconic K-pop releases!
5. Jeon Somi
YG Entertainment and The Blacklabel didn't have too many artists that took over the world in 2021, especially since BLACKPINK didn't even have a proper comeback as a group. Nonetheless, Somi is their brand new artist who left JYP Entertainment, so she finally got her debut album the same year. It's named "XOXO," and you have to check it out!
Most of the songs on this record are fierce and memorable, so they easily fit into the top five best solo projects this year for K-pop. The title track "XOXO" is more authentic than the lead single "Dumb Dumb," even though we had both on repeat. The iconic English track "Anymore" is undoubtedly her best song ever, so we're rooting for more content like this!
4. Soyeon (from (G)I-DLE)
(G)I-DLE is a girl group that doesn't even originate from the big three companies – and they don't need that to be one of the most influential groups in the industry. Their concepts are unique, unforgettable, and most of that is Soyeon's contribution, as she's the group's leader, main rapper, and the primary songwriter and producer!
Nevertheless, Soyeon finally did something for her own solo career in 2021, so we got to experience her solo songs on the album "Windy." Just like the title says, the songs are dynamic, they hold Soyeon's authentic swag, and she had so much space to display her wild side. K-pop has many all-rounders, but not many of them do it as effortlessly as Soyeon!
3. Lisa (from BLACKPINK)
We've had Rosé from BLACKPINK lower on this list already, but her bandmate, Lisa, went even further with her single album, released a few months after "-R-." "Lalisa" might not be your taste if you don't like Lisa's swag, but if she's your BLACKPINK bias, you've had this on repeat since day one for sure!
Just like Rosé, Lisa sings the b-side entirely in English, and the song "Money" might be an even bigger hit than the title track "Lalisa." "Money" has been a TikTok trend, especially after the show "Squid Game" came out since the fans thought the song was a perfect soundtrack for the Korean drama that took over the world. What a moment for Lisa's career, and this is just the beginning!
2. Wendy (from Red Velvet)
We already put Joy from Red Velvet on this list, and she did her solo so well. However, Wendy went even further with her five power ballads, and it's all because of only two things. Not for the visuals, or the rap, or the dance. Just her emotion and her high-quality voice range make everyone stop and stare in awe!
The way this girl plays with her voice really shows us why she is the main vocalist in a group as vocally strong as Red Velvet. When she takes you on the way to the purest emotions, you'll already get lost in the paradise of the opening song "When This Rain Stops." Once the power ballad "The Road" comes, Wendy already made you feel this record to the bone and keep it on repeat!
1. Yuqi (from (G)I-DLE)
It's rare to hear a deep voice in K-pop, but when you find an artist that rocks that low range, it's a blessing! Luckily, (G)I-DLE is packed with outstanding vocalists, and Yuqi must be in the top three. She's also the producer of some of the best songs of this group, so it isn't a wonder that her debut single album "A Page" is the best solo 2021 release!
Moreover, "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Giant" are even far from K-pop as a concept. These songs speak the universal language, not only for the English lyrics but also for the production. They're modern, hold a strong message, and her iconic voice makes everything even better. This is a record to remember for years to come!
Nevertheless, if you're a group stan, you can find loads of them in K-pop anyway. It's still good that the artists can go solo when it's their turn because sometimes you can display your talents only when you're alone on stage. These girls in our top ten list are impressive in their groups, but it's nice to see them shine on their own!
Do you listen to solo artists in K-pop? Are the groups your priority? Let us know your preferences!