Best of K-pop 2022

It has been far too long since I have updated my blog. Things have happened, things that could have been prevented- but it caused me much dismay that further delayed the release of a new post. But time does not wait for anyone, and I promised to myself that I would update before the year is over. That much, I should be able to do.

Hence, here it is! My favorite K-pop releases from the year. This includes both title tracks and b-sides, as well as some tracks that don’t really seem to qualify for both categories (besides Japanese Releases)

Overall, 2022 exceeded my expectations, especially with regards to girl groups. I have always been more of a boy-group fan, with my entry into the K-pop scene being marked with the survival show I-Land and its child, ENHYPEN. Yet, this year’s list tilts largely in the favour of girl groups with a few exceptions from select groups such as ENHYPEN, Drippin, Cravity and a few others. Four songs in my top 5 are occupied by girl groups, and my top artist of the year is also a girl group.

HYBE girl groups in particular, Le Sserafim and NewJeans, have quickly joined the ranks of my favourite K-pop artists overall, with Lesserafim standing out with their exceptional stage presence that elevates the quality of their already great songs, and NewJeans who aims to be a bright star in the industry with their fresh concept and easy-to-listen-to music.

IVE also shocked fans with their incredible success, winning Artist of the Year in award shows, beating out their more established seniors such as Black Pink and BTS. Large part of this was due to their solid discography. Both their title tracks made it to my list, with one being in the top 10.

In a way, due to the sheer dominance of girl groups, it has been a bit of a struggle to find good boy group music. Thankfully, my ult groups, Enhypen and (now) NCT, both had some great offerings this year mostly in the form of b-sides, and I was also forced to make an effort to seek boy group music that I really enjoyed. Surprisingly my top boy group of the year was neither of my ult groups, but from the sheer quality of their music alone makes me incredibly tempted to also add them to the list! Two of their titles made it to the top twenty, while their other title track also made it to the top fifty. Additionally, 2022 presented the first Treasure title track that I truly enjoyed, even making it to the top ten! Even though girl groups may be dominating the charts, 2022 was not a complete failure for boy groups.

Without any further delay, I’ll proceed with Honorable mentions (WARNING: LONG)~

I made this list by taking all of the songs that I scored 8.75 and above and rearranged them after a final listen. Songs that scored 8.75 are considered to be Honorable Mentions. Every time you see a separator (look below this paragraph), it means that the next song below is up another tier in score (eg. 8.75 -> 9, 9 -> 9.25, etc.)

78. Freeze Tag – TO1
This is one of the few boy group offerings that takes typical boy-group tropes such as chant-shouting and 2nd verse rap breakdowns and makes them feel endearing. I can’t help but be carried away with its energy.

77. Darari – Treasure
This song invaded Tik-Tok for a good reason- its feel-good melody and charming vocal delivery won the hearts of millions- including me. Its rock-remix has superior production, yet I feel like the soul of the song is somewhat lost (specifically the sort of warm feelings it evokes), which made me decide to place the original rather than the remix.

76. Polaroid Love – Enhypen
Both Darari and Polaroid Love gives me similar vibes, and I can’t really separate the two in terms of quality. Polaroid Love placed ever so slightly higher due to my bias towards Enhypen as well as I feel that its verses are a teeny bit stronger than Darari.

75. Sneakers – Itzy
The only Itzy song that made the list (despite its controversy), I find that when I listen to it for what it brings without expectations, I enjoy its fun and youthful energy. It does not take itself too seriously and for me, it paid off. Its not the best Itzy song by any means, but I enjoy it enough for it to make the list.

Funnily enough, NMIXX songs have a knack of growing on me. I find it extremely curious how I am able to recite the whole song from beginning to end despite still not feeling completely satisfied with the song’s production, most notably, its vocal mixing.

73. Pop! – Nayeon
This successful solo debut by one of TWICE’s core members harks back to what TWICE best: making catchy music that sticks. Whether you find it annoying or addictive, you cannot deny Pop! is definitely memorable for its bright and full-throated chorus.

72. Blessed-Cursed – ENHYPEN
I find it fascinating how a song can go from being so ‘meh’ to being an absolute bop. I am still salty about the seemingly unfinished ending, but I am still quite satisfied with the song overall.

71. Crazy – Wonho

Even if I will likely never understand the song’s verses, the ineffable production and the standout chorus paired with Wonho’s sensual vocal performance has completely won me over.

70. Life’s Too Short – aespa
No matter if you think that the message is somewhat cringy and its delivery impeccably un-subtle. Good melodies don’t fail in making a good song. Vocal Delivery was also great, which gave it bonus points.

69. Hard to Love – Rose
Hard to Love is a case where the artist and the song were made for each other. This undoubtedly exemplifies the strength of the song, delivering surprisingly potent emotion.

68. Wa Da Da – Kep1er
Until now, I am not 100% sold on the post chorus filled with almost obnoxiously too many ‘os’. Yet, the funk of the chorus’s beat drop ends up ended up winning my favor. It feels unique in the face of the thousands of already pre-existing girl crush songs, which is an accomplishment in itself.

67. Shut Down – Black Pink
Ultimately, the Paganini sample became a tad bit repetitive in the long run, but the hooks of the song hit true. Simultaneously, it accomplishes what most Black Pink songs do: be memorable, while breaking a way from their formula slightly.

66. 28 Reasons – Seulgi
This was an incredibly strong solo debut, showcasing Seulgi’s skills magnificently. Even so, I still think it could have reached further into its dark and mysterious side. In other words, I think it did not commit 100%.

65. Pink Venom – Black Pink
I enjoyed Shut Down a lot more than Pink Venom at first. Yet the anti-drop chorus and the use of traditional Korean instruments throughout the track made it edge out Shut Down in the long run. Admittedly, it is one of my favorites non-melodic choruses the whole year.

64. Long Live the King – Kingdom
This is essentially unfulfilled potential defined. This song has so many great elements, with an entrancing introductory verse, interesting percussion in the pre-chorus and a full-throated chorus. Yet the song turns more generic production wise somewhere in the middle, and it is a real shame because I genuinely enjoy listening to it, especially as the climax approaches where the song pulls out all its guns.

63. O.O – NMIXX
In all its weirdness and outlandish lyrics, O.O fully commits in bringing a sense of energy and unrelenting attack not present in most K-pop songs. In the long run, it worked to its favor, with the chorus’s ‘Watch it baila’ appropriately accompanied with Kyujin crashing in wall upon wall in the same unrelenting fashion proving to be addictive in a weird and wonderful way that things you don’t understand unfold. The middle section, is unquestionably enjoyable to listen to. If not for the weird vocal mixing (that seems to be present in most recent JYP girl group releases), this might have ended up higher in the list!

62. Love Dive – IVE
This may come as a surprise to many, but despite sporting an undeniably addictive pre-chorus and a great earworm in the form of ‘oooo’, it actually ended up falling a bit in rating in favor of other songs I enjoyed more. The vocal mixing in certain parts becomes a bit weird, and the impact of the chorus is largely diminished now compared to when I first listened to it, likely due to some production choices. However, it is the ‘song of the year’ for a reason, and my mere opinion will not take anything away from that fact.

61. Run2U – STAYC
Only let down by slightly weaker hooks, Run2U sports perfect production in a K-pop song that makes the most of the quirks of the individual member’s voices.

60. Because – Rie
Utterly driven by a sensitive vocal performance that evokes a heart-wrenching longing that can’t help but move the listener. Honestly, the only reason why it isn’t much higher on the list is because this song is not my cup of tea, but I will acknowledge high quality when I see it.

59. be free – KB
Where ‘be free’ triumphs over ‘Because’ is that it is much more easily digestable. ‘be free’ is something you can listen to any time and still vibe to, especially thanks to its sleek chorus that makes for a glorious earworm paired with its short but memorable English phrases.

58. Guerilla – ATEEZ
This song would be much much higher on this list if it did not lack stronger hooks. It is surely an experience to listen to, employing heavy rock and ‘screamo’ influences, climaxing in an classic Jongho power note with the same high intensity of the genre. The production activates your fight-or-flight instinct in the best way possible, building with every step of the song into heights you would not expect. A signature Ateez move, echoing Answer and Inception’s heights even if it does not fully get there.

57. Villain – Drippin
Drippin’s trilogy of albums this year makes for some of 2022’s strongest work. Even if introductory title Villain is the weakest of the trio, borrowing typical boy-group tropes, good execution really makes all the difference. What also helps is that Drippin as whole group has very solid vocal abilities which does wonders for a song like Villain which is more melodic than rap-heavy.

56. The Astronaut – Jin
A song like The Astronaut takes its time to unfold, allowing equal spotlight for both its vocalist and production. This allows the listener to reflect upon the serene sense of nostalgia and longing that the song evokes, making it a very successful piece of music: touching one’s heart before they realize it.

55. Glitch Mode – NCT Dream
Though filled with chant-heavy hooks, the interesting choice of melodic intervals and carefully selected melodies in the pre-chorus help balance the almost oppressively shouty song. And as always, Dream’s performance elevates the song to its full potential. Finally, it still manages to stand out from the rest of ‘shouty’ boy group offerings with interesting production choices, most notably, the distorted guitar in the bridge.

54. Illusion – aespa
Arguably aespa’s strongest release this year, Illusion is deceptively alluring and charming, with the girls delivering an effortless and memorable performance both in vocals and rap. Its biggest weakness is that it does not feel punchy enough to capitalize on its minimalist aspects, but that is just my opinion.

53. Charmer – Stray Kids
I will admit, the main reason why the song is here is because of the embarrassing amount of times I watched Lee Know’s fancams on this song. In my defense, the production has enough punch to make for year-end highlight. I especially like the melodic descending riff in the chorus, which was used very effectively.

52. Blue Flame – Le Sserafim
As part of my favorite debut album of the year, Blue Flame also stands strong on its own. It feels effortless and cool, which encompasses who Le Sserafim is as a group. The almost careless vocal delivery works wonders in adding to its charm, making for a very potent b-side that is fresh amongst the already saturated number of K-pop offerings.

51. Child – Mark
Child is raw and unpolished, yet it is executed in a way that makes it part of its appeal. I was extremely surprised by how vocal-heavy this song was, and I sort of have fallen in love with his smooth and extremely pleasing vocal timbre. (I like it better than his voice when rapping xD) The lyrics, even if not something I look for in a K-pop song usually, really resonated with me, which gave it bonus points.

50. Time Lapse – NCT 127
Honestly, I was not completely sold on the song until the chorus kicked in, which is easily among the year’s strongest choruses. It was sort of an ‘OMG’ moment where you can’t help but let your jaw drop in reaction to whatever you are listening to because it just falls in place in an explicably satisfying way that you know in your heart that it could not have been done better.

49. Candy Sugar Pop – Astro
Production? Perfect. Hooks? Impeccable. The song’s only weakness in my humble opinion is the song’s vocal delivery. I’ve never been a big fan of the Astro member’s vocal technique- or the lack of- which in turn makes their songs when they are pitched especially high (such as Candy Sugar Pop) slightly distracting. Their voices are blocked in their nose especially as they ascend to the high notes, but if vocal delivery is not really a big issue for you, you will find yourself enjoying this song much more than many of the others that follow this in the list.

48. Graduation – NCT Dream
I am slightly biased here, knowing how much this song means for NCT Dream given their history with their previously in place ‘graduation’ concept. But the song stands incredibly strong on its own. Dream delivers an outstanding vocal performance imbued with emotion that feels sincere to a point atypical of many K-pop songs. The melodies are soaring and powerful, evoking feelings deep within the listener’s heart.

47. Glitch – Kwon Eunbi
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that this is one of the most interesting K-pop songs that was released this year. The juxtaposition of the stripped back chorus (among some other parts of the song) and the stuffed production of the climax, create a disjointed structure that somehow works. It feels quite unlike any other K-pop song I’ve listened to, and Eunbi paired perfectly with this song. Its hooks are impeccable too.

46. Icarus – RoadB
Icarus contains one of the strongest choruses of the year. Period. It deviates slightly along the way like many typical K-pop songs do, but with such a strong centrepiece to anchor the song together, it does not really matter even if there some distractions.

45. Adrenaline – Cravity
Even though it took Cravity two years to release strong material, the wait is well worth it. Adrenaline certainly lives up to its name, with an effusive chorus that feels quite unlike any other K-pop chorus this year. The production is incredibly solid too, feeling purposeful and intentional, using many interesting ideas that were also well executed. If only the opening verses excited me as much as the rest of the song does, it would place much higher.

44. Raise y_our glass – Huh Yunjin (Le Sserafim)
Raise y_our glass is the rare case in which Lyricism played a significant role in raising the song’s score. The song is extremely relevant to events that have played out this year in the industry, with each scandal seeming worse than the next. Yunjin delivers outstanding vocals in the song making up for its more generic production.

43. Bad News – Tempest
Tempest is one of the few standout boy groups that debuted this year. Bad News fuses chants perfectly with melodic lines that encapsulates the dual-natured soundscape of boy group songs today in the best way possible. It puts boy groups in a good light, standing out from the so-called ‘noise music’ that many K-pop fans have grown to hate. Its production is impeccable, clean-sounding vocals, exciting and varied instrumentation, carefully crafted melodic lines, it just gets it right.

42. Generation – TripleS
Sometimes, you only need one main hook to act as the centrepiece of a song and it works extremely well. Generation is a prime example. It can be argued that it is slightly generic, but it works nevertheless.

41. Another Life – Key
Honestly, the main thing that bothers me about the song is the awkward-sounding English lyrics in the beginning. But the hooks and production are impeccable. This puts it in an awkward place, yet you can’t deny its great qualities. If weird-sounding English lyrics don’t matter to you, than this will likely place much higher on your list.

40. Beautiful Monster – STAYC
This may stand as an unpopular opinion, but I like Beautiful Monster much more than Run2U. I highly prioritize melodic choruses rather than one liner choruses such as the one in Run2u. The emotive performance of STAYC also touched my heart, invoking a faint sense of yearning, something all of us humans can relate to.

39. Silence – Drippin
Highly reminiscent of the old INFINITE Songs, Silence is propulsive and out to impress. The Vocal Performance of Drippin, particularly Junho, is especially impressive.

38. Beatbox – NCT Dream
Even though I love Glitch Mode, melodic choruses really win in the end of the day. Beatbox’s hooks are very potent, feeling like a fully-fledged pop song through and through. What wraps it up nicely is its well-earned climax, feeling the listener utterly satisfied.

37. Fearless – Le Sserafim
Even though it came out early in the year, Fearless’s sleek vocal delivery and minimalist production worked in preserving its longevity in the face of top competitors. It will forever stand as one of the strongest debuts of the new generation of K-pop.

36. Two Baddies – NCT 127
As it stands, Two Baddies, is the most NCT NCT has sounded in a while. Holding NCT as one of my ults for both the members and their music, this is a good thing. For those who do not like NCT’s signature sound, this is a bad thing. I do think though that everyone can appreciate listening the song’s masterful production under headphones, especially the warped bass in the chorus which is one of the best experiences I had in K-pop this whole year.

35. Skinz – OnlyOneOf
I never thought I’d appreciate this kind of music until I’ve listened to OnlyOneOf. It is extremely distorted and confusing at time, yet it has an undeniable appeal in spite of its irregular rhythm and time signature within the production. It won’t be for everyone, but give it a try. You never know, it might unexpectedly click with you, just like it did for me. If anything, I wish there were more memorable hooks to cling to, but the song is perfect otherwise.

34. LIMBO! – Nature
Once in a while, there will be a song released in the K-pop industry that is inexplicably weird, which causes extreme divisive reaction among fans. LIMBO! falls straight in this category, but I have grown to love LIMBO!. For all its weirdness and outlandishness, it still stands with strong melodies and production to prevent the song from becoming a hot mess.

33. Talk that Talk – TWICE
TWICE has a very solid discography especially in regards to the last few years, and Talk that Talk makes for a joyful addition. It feels like the perfect maturation of TWICE’s sound, while simultaneously maintaining its catchiness that all TWICE singles contained from the beginning.

32. LoveTiCon – CSR
CSR is among my top rookie groups to debut this year, and their follow-up title LoveTiCon, while slightly weaker than their debut title Pop? Pop!, it is still a joy to listen, with upbeat and uplifting melodies harking back to the sound of early Gfriend and Lovelyz. As they continue filling in this niche within the industry, I sincerely wish CSR all the success!

31. Designer – NCT127
Designer has one of the most addictive choruses of the year, and it simply makes you feel incredibly happy and hopeful. It is a bit difficult to describe what the song is, but in my most humble opinion, it is a perfect example of a feel-good RnB song. NCT’s voices are match made in heaven for this song specifically, resulting to almost 4 minutes of pop bliss.

30. Saturday Drip – NCT Dream
NCT Dream’s effortless rap delivery paired with almost questionable yet stupidly catchy lyrics somehow resulted into a 2022 stand out. It is not for everyone, but I’m in!

29. Drummin – TO1
Many fans were nervous over the drastic changes to TO1’s line up and what would it mean for the future. While WakeOne entertainment’s capability of managing their idol groups remains in question, they certainly gave the new and revamped TO1 an excellent song. Drummin is piece of unabashed fun, encapsulating the summer energy so lacking in many K-pop songs in this year’s summer. The group gives an exciting performance that makes it difficult to not get swept up in its fever.

28. One in a Billion – ENHYPEN
The deep distorted guitar in its opening paired with its funky yet assertive percussion makes for an irresistable introduction to this song. Not lacking in hooks, the Enhypen members, specifically Heeseung, add flair and grit in their vocal performance that brings the song to its full potential, turning the song into something truly of their own. As an Engene, I am proud of far Enhypen has come in incorporating their unique flair in their songs, and this is step in the right direction.

27. The Great Mermaid – Le Sserafim
The Great Mermaid really gets it all right. Unique and memorable melodies, strong production that has some real grit and depth, and a charismatic vocal performance that hints at the diverse characteristics of the individuals within the group. If anything, it could have done more, going all out and not withholding experimental touches. It already has a solid base, and simply doing more would have pushed it all the way up.

26. Gold Dust – NCT 127
Something about the way Doyoung sings the chorus sends shivers down my spine unlike any other song. This song was really made to show’s NCT 127’s diverse offerings as vocalists. It is subdued, yet its impact does not feel lacking. Its melody is almost hypnotizing, creeping up on you even before you realize it. The song is one 2022’s biggest surprises for me as it helped me appreciate RnB more as a genre, and the Two Baddies album as a whole.

25. Candy – NCT Dream
This is technically a remake, but Candy brought me far too much joy to not qualify for the list. It is sweet, bubbly fun that has been greatly missing from pretty much every boy group release this year. Dream fits this song like a glove, with their youthful timbres appealing to the cute nature of the song perfectly. I do not think any other group could have done this remake better, and it simply refined and polished the already great song. In the higher ranks, the suitability of the song for the artist matters a lot more, and Candy is the perfect example, pushing it over the edge and into the top 25.

24. The Happiest Girl – Black Pink
Funny how the strongest song from Black Pink’s album ended up being a ballad. But I digress, The Happiest Girl is the first time I’ve seen Black Pink display their vocals in such a raw and pure form, finally showcasing their true potential as vocalists. Lisa and Jennie particularly impressed me in the track, and being one of my favourite vocal performances of the year warrants its placement on the list, being one of the defining criteria of my blog.

23. Up! – Kep1er
This entry might be surprising, but this was my top Summer K-pop song of the Year, edging out Drummin mainly in the strength of the chorus. It is funny how far I’ve gone with this song; I had hated it at first listen, but the earworm in the chorus was far too addictive for me to keep pretending that I hated the song, and I eventually ended up loving the whole song. Some songs take time, and Up! was one of them.

22. Forever Only – Jaehyun (NCT)
Sleek, effortless, and addictive, Forever Only’s melody weaves a fine line between repetitive yet keeping enough variation to sustain one’s interest. Its energy constantly moves forward, making it easy to get lost in its beat. And most of all, Jaehyun’s voice is simply chef’s kiss. It may not be for everyone, but it has remained a staple on my playlist the whole year.

21. Opening Sequence – TXT
Some melodies are of such strength that they simply emanate ‘iconic’. Such is the melody of Opening Sequence; one listen, and you won’t ever forget it. The vocal performance here is pure perfection, the slight distortion as Taehyun enters the chorus embeds deep emotion onto the listeners, leaving a profound impact echoing long after the song ends. It is really the only song I enjoyed enough from them this year to include in the list.

20. Pop? Pop! – CSR
Pop? Pop! is easily one of the strongest debut songs of the year. I listen to it and think that every single aspect of the song is the way it should be, and there are few higher compliments one can give than that! Every part works together in seamless harmony, it is almost makes you wonder how the universe was able to conspire in such a way to conjure such a song that simply works.

19. Sour Grapes – Le Sserafim
This is one of my most played songs this year, and for good reason. Former member Garam has one of my favorite voices that appeared in K-pop, its timbre is ineffably charming and soothing. The song gives a feeling that no other song had been able to replicate for me personally, which earns it a very high spot in the list.

18. Attention – NewJeans
Attention proves you do not need to be flashy, hard hitting, or ‘loud’ to catch one’s attention. It is easily the strongest debut single this year, conquering the charts for good reason. Its chorus sends you to heaven and back, and its laid back yet addictive groove will remain iconic for the years to come. Time has proven its longevity (even though not as much as another of their singles, which will pop later!).

17. _World – Seventeen
The feel-good quality of the song proved to be irresistible in the long run. The hopeful and positive feelings that surge in my chest as the chorus kicks simply can’t compare to any other K-pop song I’ve heard this year. Happy and positive Seventeen is the best Seventeen in my humble opinion (with few exceptions like Don’t Wanna Cry), but they were seriously made for something like this.

16. Party Rock – Cravity
Party Rock sports one of my favorite choruses I’ve heard in K-pop in a long time. I wish it is an exaggeration, but the fact that more than half of the song is literally just the chorus and I keep hitting the replay button proves its effectiveness. Even with the verses being noticeably weaker than the chorus, the chorus is simply too good that you can forgive its weakness. If I take out most of the verses, or replace it with stronger verses, the song would easily breach the top 10.

15. Can’t Stop Shining – Tempest
This song and the two others that precedes it belong to a similar genre of feel-good, bright boy group music. Yet the reason why Can’t Stop Shining ends up overtaking the two is because it does not overly rely on the strength of its chorus. Its verses are just as strong, if not stronger than the chorus, making it an arguably perfect pop song. Tempest is easily my favorite boy group rookie of the year, and I highly recommend you give their music a listen!

14. Future-Perfect (PASS THE MIC) – ENHYPEN
Future-Perfect has this sort energy that makes it the perfect song to chant along and sing to, especially with good speakers. Even though its production is somewhat hollow, it ironically holds so much energy and power that it becomes weirdly addictive. In a technical sense, it should probably be much lower, but I enjoyed the most by far among ‘noisy’ boy group offerings, even without my bias for Enhypen ignored. To each of their own I guess!

13. Childhood – The Rose
Marking their first comeback since their return from military service, Childhood is easily strongest ballad of the year. It feels wholly authentic and bestows a feeling of absolute serenity. The power behind the deeply emotive vocal performance actually draws you to pay full attention to the lyrics and reflect on its thought-provoking message. It is arguably one of their best work, and I look forward to what they will come up with in the future.

12. Cyberpunk – ATEEZ
Cyberpunk is stacked in every sense of the word. It feels like a classic Disney villain-esque song that gets your blood pumping and your adrenaline rushing. It is simply absolutely thrilling to listen to. Get ready to be lost into masterpiece of a song that easily stands along with ATEEZ’s best work.

11. ZERO – Drippin
This song solidified Drippin as one of my favorite boy groups. Every single aspect of the song feels purposeful and well-thought-of, taking you into a journey full of twists and turns, all building towards a grand and galvanizing conclusion that feels absolutely earned. Can’t really fault the song.

10. Ditto – NewJeans
This might be a premature and reckless decision to place such a new release so high up in the list, but it is rare that vocal melodies are irresistible to the point of being stuck in my head in literally a matter of minutes. Ditto places absolute spotlight on NewJeans as pop vocalists, for good reason too. Their vocal performance elevates me to a different place, and their pleasant and distinct timbres are simply a joy to listen to. It is ineffable to me how NewJeans manage to release hit after hit after hit!

9. INVU – Taeyeon
Taeyeon is a star. As it stands, she already has an incredibly solo discography, and INVU joins the ranks as another highlight. INVU, by far, is the best vocal performance of K-pop 2022. It shows Taeyeon’s absolute mastery with her voice. Her voice is so present within the track that it feels like the production merged with her voice rather than the other way round. INVU is the case where the absolute star power of the artist enables the song to achieve glorious heights. It would also be a crime to not mention how much the MV is a visual fest in every sense of the word.

8. Hello – Treasure
Hello is the first time I have truly connected with Treasure as a group. It is also the first title track that I have enjoyed to the point of holding it as one of my personal songs of the year. Hello is also their first concept in which the members, at least in my view, perfectly fit in. It is the perfect boost of serotonin anytime and anywhere in the day. It is in the pinnacle of feel-good songs that K-pop has offered this year. I pray that YG will keep them in this direction. They simply excel in this genre, and they NEED more of this.

7. Shout Out – ENHYPEN
From the very first time I heard this song, I already knew it was going to be my pick for the best b-side of the year. And so it was. Shout Out is pure pop perfection. It ticks all the boxes, and still strives to exceed expectations. Few songs these days choose to take their time to winding down the song, making the listener completely satisfied. It does not strive to leave you hanging so you would have an itch to replay it. Shout Out is a complete meal, and one cannot help but smile as it concludes. This is ENHYPEN at their best, and should keep having songs within the rock genre in the future.

6. Replay – Golden Child
Replay is easily my most unexpected discovery of the year. The song seeks to break boundaries in what K-pop can be. The song constantly alternates between tension and release, keeping the listener utterly engaged. Its melodies are stacked, delivering hook after hook after hook- leaving you questioning what doesn’t this song offer. As if it isn’t enough, it is paired with arguably the most technically sound piece of production among all K-pop songs released this year, being hard-hitting in the best way possible. Replay proves that songs can be impactful and hard-hitting without chanting/shout-talking. Replay is masterful, a work of art, and is a privilege to listen to. It is an experience I will never forget.

5. The One – Drippin
Flawless. Despite being released a mere 1 month ago, The One has already become my most played boy group song of the year. I can’t see a singular part of the song in which I would change. Listening to the one is a complete experience, and encompasses everything I would look for in a song. Solid vocal melodies, high-quality vocal performance, and a picture perfect production that takes you on a journey into complete immersion. It is probably not for everyone, but that is fine. This is my standard of perfection. The joy it has brought to me when I listen to it is almost incomprehensible.

4. Antifragile – Le Sserafim
Antifragile brought something completely new into the K-pop scene and owned it. Its addictive yet simultaneously repetitive to the point of being almost cloying reggaeton beat has proven to be divisive, but one cannot deny the unwavering and unrelenting confidence that Le Sserafim displayed within this track. It is the ultimate K-pop empowerment track of the year, and will forever be iconic for the years to come.

3. After Like – IVE
Whether you like it or not, IVE has dominated the entirety of 2022. After Like serves as the perfect representative track for their success. It is a disco celebration of unmatched proportions. While offering one irresistible hook after another, it also effectively uses of an iconic sample (I will survive by Gloria Gaynor) in such a way that it offers it full spotlight without overly relying on it, for I argue that the other parts of the song stand almost just as strong. Personally, it far eclipses Love Dive in terms of longevity because After Like’s production is simply technically more sound. The vocal performance of the IVE members help make it absolutely memorable and a joy to listen to. It is a success on all fronts, and easily one of the most replayable tracks of the year.

2. FOREVER 1 – Girl’s Generation
Time eventually proved me wrong. FOREVER 1 is the sort of song whose meaning can’t be quite captured in words. In the same way, its melodies evoke unexplainable, almost baffling feelings to listeners, even if they don’t fully understand SNSD’s history as a group. FOREVER 1 manages to pair an ineffably emotive vocal performance with perfect production that hits in a way that no other song in 2022 can, and will ever do. It is a triumphant celebration of success that manages to do everything it sought out to do- and more. I will forever have a soft spot for the way this song makes me feel. Rare is when emotions take the spotlight in K-pop, but when it does, it can potentially propel the song all the way to the top, just as FOREVER 1 has successfully done.

  1. Hypeboy by NewJeans
    Once in a while, you would taste something new and give it a nod. Somewhere in your subconsciousness, the seeds of addiction have been planted, and some point later, you would give it another taste. The seeds crack, and the cycle repeats- until one day, the seeds sprout and the inevitable has come.

    Now trapped in a tree of addiction, no matter what you do, you can’t let it go. Then you learn to embrace it, wholly.

    That is my experience with Hypeboy in a nutshell. Never did I think that it would be my ultimate song of the year on first listen. It was good, yes, but I had dozens of other songs I seriously considered as candidates. Somewhere along the way, it just ended up number one.

    In literally less than 3 minutes, Hypeboy manages to be peak pop bliss, utterly satisfying the listener, yet you still cannot help but play it again and again. It feels modern and fresh within the K-pop scene, yet familiar at the same time. It encompasses NewJeans’s whole concept in the best way possible, releasing songs that would make for an easy listen anytime and anywhere, just like a reliable pair of jeans which you will take with you again, and again, and again. NewJeans is both my favorite artist and rookie of the year, and they were the group that contributed the most in making my K-pop 2022 as exciting it was. It is only fitting that they take the spot of 2022’s K-pop Song of the Year!

If you have made it this far, congratulations! This is probably the singular most time consuming thing I have done (so far) during the holiday, but it feels amazing to finally finish writing. I really enjoyed K-pop this year, much more than I expected honestly, and I have high hopes that 2023 will be just as, if not more exciting than this year. I hope that boy groups can make a resurgence, with Boys Planet already catching my attention as the survival show to invest my time in next year (HAHAHA).

What was your 2022 K-pop song of the year?


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