Gaon Charts 2017

A few weeks into 2018 Korea’s national music chart Gaon published the top 100 charts for 2017. While the idol side of Korean music is still what is more popular internationally, going through all of the charts I found much more diversity than I’ve registered in previous years.

Gaon Korean Album Chart

Given the emphasis on album sales in idol group fandoms it is hardly surprising that Gaon’s album chart, which tracks sales of physical media, was dominated by idol groups also in 2017. Another trend that remained is that it is the boy bands that sell the best, illustrated this year by the top 20 including only five albums from girl groups–Twice responsible for four of those with the best selling album ranked #12. The highest ranked non-idol was Hwan Chi Yeul, previously a frequent competitor on Immortal Song 2, at rank #17 with his first mini album Be ordinary.

Here’s what the top 3 looked like:

1. BTS – Love Yourself: Her [1,493,443 sales]
2. EXO – The War (Korean version) [949,827 sales]
3. BTS – You Never Walk Alone [768,402 sales]

The top 100 only had room for albums selling 30,750 copies or more during 2017, leaving no place for indie releases. Reviewing the album sales chart for December 2017 it appears the top selling indie album, just like in 2016, was BOL4’s first full-length album Red Planet with a total of 14,497 copies sold. The BOL4 EP actually released in 2017, Red Diary Page.1, also did well, selling 12,098 copies over 3 months.

Another strong contender is Hyukoh’s first full-length album 23, which by June had sold 13,830 copies–outselling the preceding, also very popular EP 22 with a factor of three.

For comparison, former Gaon chart indie kings 10cm’s 4th full-length album 4.0 sold no more than 2,083 copies during September, when it was released, without registering on later monthly album charts.


Gaon Korean Digital Chart

Gaon’s digital chart combines the results of Gaon’s download, streaming and background music charts.

While the album chart was primarily about group efforts, the top of the digital chart favored soloists. Ailee’s contribution to tvN drama Goblin (도깨비) proved to be the most popular song of the year. It was followed by the first precursor to IU’s 2017 comeback album with Yoon Jong Shin’s Postino composed first contribution to Mystic Entertainment’s Listen series not far behind.

1. Ailee – “첫눈처럼 너에게 가겠다 (I Will Go To You Like The First Snow)
2. IU – “밤편지 (Through The Night)
3. Yoon Jong Shin – “좋니 (Like It)

If 2016 was the breakthrough year for BOL4, who at the time was commonly referred to as Bolbbalgan4 internationally, the female acoustic duo doubled down on success during 2017. No less than 4 songs from Red Planet, released in 2016, made it into the overall digital chart for 2017 as well as 3 songs from the 2017 EP Red Diary, Part.1. Additionally there was the collaboration single with Shofar Music label mates 20 Years of Age as well as BOL4’s contribution to the soundtrack for MBC drama Ruler: Master of the Mask (군주 – 가면의 주인). While not included in the table below, BOL4 could claim yet another entry on the top 100 from being featured on Mad Clown’s “우리집을 못 찾겠군요 (Lost Without You)” at rank #62.

Male duo MeloMance has been actively releasing music for the past couple of years, but it was with the fourth EP Moonlight, released in July 2017, that the first chart topping ranking was achieved. Since then MeloMance has been a common name to find on the various Gaon charts, not least thanks to participation on four different soundtracks during the autumn. Even so it is only Moonlight opening track “선물 (Gift)” that managed to make it into the top 100.

Originally released in February 2015, Seenroot’s “오빠야 (Sweet Heart)” went viral in early 2017 after being referenced by a popular Korean vlogger. Once it also got covered by various idols it was even harder to miss.

For several years, male acoustic duo One More Chance had a steady presence on the less prestigious Gaon charts. Vocalist Park Won had his first solo effort released in 2015, but it is his EP 0M that appears to have garnered the most attention so far, with lead track “all of my life” charting in the middle of the top 100.

Hyukoh’s first full-length album 23 may have done relatively well in terms of album sales and all tracks showed up on the digital top 100 the week it was released, In terms of staying power, however, only one of the album’s two lead tracks made enough of an impact to also be included on the digital chart for 2017. Hyukoh vocalist Oh Hyuk made two more impressions on the yearly chart as he was featured on two additional songs that made it into the top 100. At rank #16 was “사랑이 잘 (Can’t Love You Anymore)”, the second single preceding IU’s fourth full-length album. At rank #59 came yet another entry via Infinite Challenge‘s history themed Great Legacy New Year’s hip-hop album, where he was featured on Hwang Kwanghee and Gaeko’s Yun Dong-ju inspired “당신의 밤”.

Mate vocalist Jung Joonil saw one of his old songs grow in popularity during 2016, but in 2017 his top ranking song was a more recent release. Just like Ailee’s chart topping song, Jung Joonil’s top 100 entry for 2017 came through a contribution to the soundtrack of Goblin (도깨비).

2017 RankSong
5 [new]BOL4 - "좋다고 말해"
18 [new]BOL4 & 20 Years of Age - "남이 될 수 있을까"
21 [-8]BOL4 - "우주를 줄게"
24 [new]MeloMance - "선물"
25 [new]BOL4 - "처음부터 너와 나"
26 [new]Seenroot - "오빠야"
28 [+25] BOL4 - "나만 안되는 연애"
36 [new]BOL4 -"썸 탈꺼야"
51 [new]Park Won - "All of My Life"
56 [new]Hyukoh - "Tomboy"
65 [new]Jung Joonil - "첫 눈"
69 [new]BOL4 - "나의 사춘기에게"
73 [new]BOL4 - "You(=I)"
92 [new]BOL4 - "Blue"


Gaon Korean Download Chart

Gaon’s Korean download chart for 2017 largely resembled the digital chart. Yoon Jong Shin ranked a couple of positions lower while the title track off IU’s fourth full-length album took over the third spot.

1. Ailee – “I Will Go To You Like The First Snow” [2,488,341 downloads]
2. IU – “밤편지 (Through The Night)” [2,181,372 downloads]
3. IU feat. G-Dragon – “팔레트 (Palette)” [1,817,177 downloads]

Compared to the overall digital chart, the download chart contained an additional indie song with BOL4’s first album track “심술” added to the mix.

2017 RankSongDownloads
6 [new]BOL4 - "좋다고 말해"1,777,488
15 [new]BOL4 & 20 Years of Age - "남이 될 수 있을까"1,491,990
16 [+7] BOL4 - "우주를 줄게"1,478,190
20 [+37] BOL4 - "나만 안되는 연애"1,411,565
23 [new]BOL4 - "처음부터 너와 나"1,346,861
24 [new]Seenroot - "오빠야"1,291,310
37 [new]MeloMance - "선물"1,160,103
43 [new]BOL4 - "썸 탈꺼야"1,122,548
51 [new]Hyukoh - "Tomboy"1,082,514
61 [new]Jung Joonil - "첫 눈"1,012,029
65 [new]BOL4 - "You(=I)"955,975
67 [new]Park Won - "All of My Life"952,917
75 [new]BOL4 - "나의 사춘기에게"884,853
92 [new]BOL4 - "심술"767,105
95 [new]BOL4 - "Blue"757,087


Gaon Korean Streaming Chart

Much like the download chart, Gaon’s Korean streaming chart for 2017 resembled the overall digital chart. Here also sharing the top 3.

1. Ailee – “I Will Go To You Like The First Snow” [171,231,816 streams]
2. IU – “밤편지 (Through The Night)” [134,048,681 streams]
3. Yoon Jong Shin – “좋니 (Like It)” [131,261,033 streams]

The indie songs on the streaming chart were all the same as on the download chart. Interesting to note is that although BON4’s “우주를 줄게” was ranked slightly lower on the streaming chart than in 2016 although the song had gotten more than 20,000 streams in 2017.

2017 RankSongStreams
4 [new]BOL4 - "좋다고 말해"126,805,220
13 [-1]BOL4 - "우주를 줄게"94,901,089
15 [+34] BOL4 - "나만 안되는 연애"90,665,896
16 [new]BOL4 & 20 Years of Age - "남이 될 수 있을까"90,016,046
21 [new]MeloMance - "선물"83,490,105
25 [new]BOL4 - "처음부터 너와 나"80,824,161
31 [new]Seenroot - "오빠야"76,738,194
42 [new]BOL4 - "썸 탈꺼야"66,715,512
45 [new]Park Won - "All of My Life"62,456,577
58 [new]Hyukoh - "Tomboy"56,378,122
62 [new]BOL4 - "You(=I)"54,762,765
70 [new]Jung Joonil - "첫 눈"50,417,954
76 [new]BOL4 - "나의 사춘기에게"48,137,549
85 [new]BOL4 - "심술"43,964,996
95 [new]BOL4 - "Blue"40,854,908


Gaon Korean BGM Chart

Whereas the download and streaming charts respectively had much in common with the overall digital chart, Gaon’s Korean background music chart for 2017 contained more variation. The very top position was held by the opening track to first generation idol group SechsKies’s big comeback album while the following two were familiar from the other digital charts.

1. SechsKies – “특별해 (Something Special)
2. Ailee – “첫눈처럼 너에게 가겠다 (I Will Go To You Like The First Snow)
3. Yoon Jong Shin – “좋니 (Like It)

Only a few of the same indie songs were found both on the digital chart and the BGM chart with Seenroot’s “오빠야 (Sweet Heart)” performing the best. The top ranked BOL4 song was released as part 3 of the soundtrack for KBS drama Hwarang (화랑), not seen on any of the other digital charts.

Two songs remained from the 2016 Korean BGM Chart. Busker Busker’s 2012 hit “벚꽃 엔딩 (Cherry Blossom Ending)” was a spring favorite in Korea also during 2017. Although released early in 2016, Jaurim vocalist Kim Yuna’s “길 (Road)” for the soundtrack of tvN drama Signal (시그널) retained enough popularity to show up in the top 100 of the BGM chart again.

2017 RankSong
14 [new]Seenroot - "오빠야"
32 [new]MeloMance - "선물"
62 [new]BOL4 - "드림"
73 [-8]Busker Busker - "벚꽃 엔딩"
78 [new]Jung Joonil - "첫 눈"
79 [new]BOL4 - "썸 탈꺼야"
80 [new]BOL4 - "처음부터 너와 나"
95 [new]Park Won - "All of My Life"
97 [-86]Kim Yuna - "길"


Gaon Mobile Chart

Unlike Gaon’s other charts, the mobile chart does not separate Korean and foreign entries.

While the songs on Gaon’s ringtone chart for 2017 had a lot in common with the BGM chart, the ringback tone chart offered more news already in the first spot, occupied by the debut song from female duo bubble sound released in November 2016.

Gaon Ringtone Top 3 2017:

1. Ailee – “첫눈처럼 너에게 가겠다 (I Will Go To You Like The First Snow)
2. Seenroot – “오빠야 (Sweet Heart)
3. Yoon Jong Shin – “좋니 (Like It)

Gaon Ringback Tone Top 3 2017:

1. bubble sound feat. Fleekman – “꽃길만 걷자
2. Ailee – “첫눈처럼 너에게 가겠다 (I Will Go To You Like The First Snow)
3. MeloMance – “선물 (Gift)

Male singer-songwriter Yun Ddan Ddan earned his initial popularity through busking before releasing his first mini album in 2014. Growing steadily in popularity since, album lead track “겨울을 걷는다 (Walking In The Winter)” finally made it into the yearly ringback tone top 100 in 2017. Ranked even higher was the single “니가 보고싶은 밤 (The Night I Miss You)“, released in February 2017.

MoonMoon is another male singer-songwriter that was rising in fame during 2017. His first EP Life Is Beauty Full was released in November 2016, and while it was not promoted as a lead track “비행운 (Contrail)” was anyway picked up by the right influencers.

Yet another male singer-songwriter, J_ust made his recording debut in 2015 and has dutifully been releasing singles since. “You” was released in August 2017 as the first piece of soundtrack for Naver webtoon 연애혁명.

Rank 2017
Tone Rank
2 [new]10 [new]
Seenroot - "오빠야"
4 [new]3 [new]MeloMance - "선물"
14 [new]9 [new]BOL4 - "처음부터 너와 나"
17 [new]1 [new]bubble sound - "꽃길만 걷자"
26 [new]37 [new]BOL4 - "썸 탈꺼야"
68 [+10] 58 [+11] Busker Busker - "벚꽃 엔딩"
76 [new]45 [new]BOL4 & 20 Years of Age - "남이 될 수 있을까"
91 [new]91 [new]BOL4 - "좋다고 말해"
99 [new]-BOL4 - "드림"
-27 [new]Yun Ddan Ddan - "니가 보고싶은 밤"
-28 [new]MoonMoon - "비행운"
-42 [new]Park Won - "All of My Life"
-57 [new]J_ust - "You"
-80 [new]Yun Ddan Ddan - "겨울을 걷는다"
-88 [new]Hyukoh - "Tomboy"


Gaon Korean Noraebang Chart

Gaon’s noraebang chart has historically had a rather small representation of Korean indie music, but that has begun to change over the past couple of years. The Korean noraebang chart for 2017 contained twice as many indie entries as in 2016.

Not only popular online, Yoon Jong Shin and Ailee both did very well in Korean karaoke rooms during 2017. After living in obscurity after the release of Maktub Project Vol. 3 in 2014, Gu Yoon Hoe and “Marry Me” suddenly rose to fame in the beginning of 2017 after being picked up by a popular Facebook streamer.

1. Yoon Jong Shin – “좋니 (Like It)
2. Ailee – “첫눈처럼 너에게 가겠다 (I Will Go To You Like The First Snow)
3. Gu Yoon Hoe – “Marry Me

The noraebang chart is typically the most slow-moving out of Gaon’s chart, illustrated here by multiple songs from last year still sticking around. After having been a fixture on Gaon’s noraebang chart since it launched in 2010, however, long-time noraebang favorite “낭만 고양이” from Cherry Filter has finally retired from the top 100.

New entries unique to the noraebang chart were the lead track for Park Won’s second full-length album as well as Guckkasten vocalist Ha Hyun Woo’s N.EX.T cover for King of Mask Singer (복면가왕).

2017 RankSong
9 [-2]Jung Joonil - "안아줘"
13 [new]MeloMance - "선물"
21 [-9]10cm - "스토커"
22 [new]Jung Joonil - "첫 눈"
31 [new]Seenroot - "오빠야"
32 [new]Park Won - "All of My Life"
44 [new]Park Won - "노력"
49 [+2] BOL4 - "우주를 줄게"
57 [new]Yun Ddan Ddan - "겨울을 걷는다"
60 [new]BOL4 - "나만 안되는 연애"
74 [+9] Jung Joonil - "고백"
76 [new]BOL4 - "좋다고 말해"
80 [-59]Oh Hyuk - "소녀"
83 [new]MoonMoon - "비행운"
85 [new]Hyukoh - "Tomboy"
88 [new]Ha Hyun Woo (우리 동네 음악대장) -
"Lazenca, Save Us"
95 [-29]Busker Busker - "정류장"

2 Comments Gaon Charts 2017

    1. Anna

      Yeah, I find it interesting just how many songs from them are everywhere. My memory may betray me, but I can’t recall this being the case even for 10cm when most popular. But then BOL4 have been working on many fronts (own releases, OSTs for multiple TV channels) so I guess that could be why.

      I also find it extremely intriguing what you told me about so many of these artists (Gu Yoon Hoe, MeloMance, MoonMoon) etc. getting attention thanks to the signal light streamer! I struggle to understand the appeal with those videos themselves, but do admire that he helps bring attention to artists that the general public might otherwise miss out on :)


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