[Rina’s List] 11 underrated female dance solos

Time to be brutally honest: female solos are usually being slept on much more frequently than male solos. This statement is not meant to hate on male solos (I stan 3 male soloists, did you even know that? Ha.), but in K-pop market females are having it harder when they go solo. Since they’re not a part of a group, there’s no option for choosing a bias: you either like this soloist, or not.

What makes it worse is that usually when people think of female soloists, they all expect them to be vocal powerhouses (otherwise why would they even turn their faces in your direction, huh?). Female solo ballads doing better on charts than dance tracks is a common situation, especially if the ballad is an OST to a K-drama (if you haven’t seen the success of Ailee’s OST to “Goblin”, you’re missing out A LOT).

So here I am with my list of 11 dance songs from soloists that, in my opinion, should’ve been more appreciated or shoul’ve granted a music show win and a wide recognition mainly from Korean audience, ’cause we all know, they tend to sleep on powerful female dancers. Songs were chosen based on few factors including music chart rankings, K-netizens reactions, song concept/dance routine quality, release timing, and amount of music show nominations/wins (and of course, my personal preference). International recognition also slightly affected song choices, because oops! – I’m also a part of the international K-pop fandom.


IU – Red Shoes

Release year: 2013
Album: Modern Times
Number of music show wins: 6

I know: questionable choice. 6 music show wins is considered a lot, but why I still chose to include this song into the list? Modern Times is a very special album, both to me as a listener (it’s still my top favorite K-pop album of all time) and to IU as an artist. This is the very first album where she personally participated in song writing and composing (not yet producing, which happens later in Chatshire album). I believe people really didn’t appreciate how much IU grew up as an artist. This album also mark her movement from innocent image to a mature one, as she turns her legal age (in South Korea, legal age is 19 internationally), as she tries to break out from the beloved “nation’s little sister” to a respected artist. The take on Charlie Chaplin’s retro sound is a very brave move in the middle of K-pop’s obsession with dubstep elements, which made this whole album stand out. Nowadays when people talk about how great IU is as a musician, they tend to leave the whole Modern Times era out (partially because of how much buzz her next album Chatshire created with several issues), and I can’t help but be sad about it. I dare to state that Red Shoes, with its witty and playful choreography, started the still slow-growing trend of a musical-esque kind of sound in K-pop music, hence why the song made it into my list.


Shannon – Hello

Release year: 2017
Album: Hello
Number of music show wins: 0

In my opinion, this is Shannon’s best song in her entire discography. And the dance looks very sophisticating to me. Some people may still remember not best things she used to say in the past, but her talent in undeniable (as well as the fact that MBK is totally wasting her in the dungeon), and too bad the company doesn’t care much about picking out songs that would make her bloom as a singer. I said earlier that Hello is Shannon’s best song, but it’s not the one that could highlight her full potential. Still, I love the dance routine of this release.


Nicole – Mama

Release year: 2014
Album: First Romance
Number of music show wins: None

After departing from KARA, Nicole almost sinked among all other K-pop groups and soloists, and this is sad, because her solo Mama is what I call a very nice example of artistic choreography with the use of backup dancers. But oh well, we all know how Korean audience is so afraid of mature concepts, especially when women are confident in talking about things usually we would not talk out loud, which is what Mama is all about. Nicole is not just a good dancer, but she was considered as a stable vocalist for a performer (we’re not talking about Mariah Carey-esque powerhouse vocalists), so I still don’t understand how people could just easily drop her as soon as she detached the brand label of one of the most successful second generation girl groups from her name.


Sunmi – Full Moon

Release year: 2014
Album: Full Moon
Number of music show wins: 1

Another example of how people are so freaked out when a female soloist comes back with a mature and sensual concept. Although the year 2014 is marked as a highlight year of female K-pop acts, both groups and solos, coming back with sexy concepts, I feel like this specific Sunmi’s one is not talked about enough, especially now that we are in 2018, and her last two singles (Gashina and Heroine) totally outshined everything she has done before. This song is very seductive, and the sensual choreography totally compliments that, and I personally don’t care that some people still say it was way too sensual. For me, this is a good example of raw sensuality without crossing the line to plain explicity. There are actually two more songs in my list that falls into the same “sensual” category, so let’s just go straight into talking about them.


Jiyeon – Never Ever

Release year: 2014
Album: Never Ever
Number of music show wins: 0

At this point, I think lots of K-pop fans already forgot that one time a T-ara member made her solo debut with very sensual Never Ever, accompanied by what people called a provocative choreography. And the only thing that seemed to be very “provocative” was the wall dance, like… how? Again, typical situation of facing double standards when it comes to how people receive male and female idols in K-pop. Sure, Jiyeon is not the best of vocalists out there, but the song perfectly suited her, and the choreography, in my opinion, was simply majestic. Again, people are just way too scared of sensual stuff.


Gain – Paradise Lost

Release year: 2015
Album: hawwah
Number of music show wins: 0

Gain is one of those female soloists that just walks on the blade between sensuality and explicity, and she’s balancing on that thin line very well. If Sunmi and Jiyeon are close to the border between the two terms, but still remaining on sensual side, Gain is literally on the verge of going from one to another. She keeps an amazig balance between sensual and explicit, which makes her songs very impactful to me – too bad not everyone thinks the same way as I do when it comes to Paradise Lost. Men definitely hate it when women talk about themselves as trophies they will never get, hence why they don’t deserve a whole damn Son Gain.


HA:TFELT – Ain’t Nobody

Release year: 2014
Album: Me?
Number of music show wins: 0

For a gazillion times: Park Yeeun deserved more recognition after the disbandment of Wonder Girls. I always feel so bad for group members that go solo and don’t make it big even with the brand name attached to them because simply they don’t have enough recognition within the group originally (that goes to many, many examples – the list is way too long). Ain’t Nobody is a song of desperation, the sound itself already is on the verge of being explicit, and the contemporary dance accompanying it adds even more spice. HA:TFELT deserves more appreciation for such heavy songs that not everyone can easily pull off.


Uhm Junghwa – Ending Credit

Release year: 2017
Album: The Cloud Dream of the Nine
Number of music show wins: 0

I especially wanted to add this first generation sexy diva Uhm Junghwa because Ending Credit needs to be loved internationally on all possible levels. She may not belong to digital chart generation anymore, but this shouldn’t cancel the fact that she’s still that sexy diva of Korean pop music. She’s iconic, she’s legendary (also her body is goals, and, just for a second, she’s almost 50!). And this release, with a full throwback to 90s, just proves me that. The dance made by 1Million’s Lia Kim is simple, but very impactful, and that’s all I have to say about it. Just watch it for yourself.


BoA – One Shot Two Shot

Release year: 2018
Album: One Shot Two Shot
Number of music show wins: 0

Another legendary singer with legendary dance moves. At first I was slightly skeptical about One Shot Two Shot, but later the song grew up on me so much, I became overly addictive, and the dance routine was the main reason. As she stated herself in documentary, she wanted this song to have a much easier choreography compared to what she always does, and even with more simplified moves the precise details add that crispy taste that I love so much in One Shot Two Shot. Also the usage of backup dancers is amazing, especially at the end.


BoA – CAMO

Release year: 2017
Album: One Shot Two Shot
Number of music show wins: 0

Again, one more masterpiece from BoA’s latest album. It features the complicated dance moves we used to see coming from BoA, but, oh my god, I just love this one so much. It perfectly describes BoA the Powerful dancer. Somehow she manages to make her strong moves elegant. All her dances are so sophisticating to watch, and I can’t help myself but want to learn this choreography. When will we get another exceptional performer like BoA…


Luna – Free Somebody

Release year: 2016
Album: Free Somebody
Number of music show wins: 0

Everything about f(x)’s main vocalist Luna screams: PERFECTION. The fact that Korean audience dropped her right away when she debuted with a dance track as a soloist is still the most unforgivable thing for me as a hardcore f(x) and Luna stan. You can’t just expect talented vocalists to only release ballad songs! Especially when we’re talking about an idol who auditioned to be a dancer, but became the all-rounded main vocalist. Of course Luna would want to showcase her full potential, hence this masterpiece that was released ahead of time and was hugely slept on by everyone who said they’ll support her. Unforgivable, just unforgiveable. And the dance routine is not one of the easiest! To put in short: Luna deserved to be recognized for this masterpiece, not thrown at for not debuting with a ballad. Duh!


Listen to all recommendations in a playlist mode: click here

Sure I missed some more examples, so feel free to remind me of other dance bops by female soloists that deserved more recognition! And if not, which of listed above is/are your favorite/s?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s