Well. It’s been kind of rough hasn’t it.
To put it simply, 2022’s been kind of a bore for the K-pop landscape. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve like a lot of stuff but few have felt as essential or as iconic as anything released within the past few years. I’ve mentioned it a lot before but a sense of mundanity covered much of the first half of the year and though it’s resulted in tracks that aren’t necessarily bad, it’s just been a whole lot of “meh”.
BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE HERE FOR TODAY.
Today we are (finally) celebrating some of my favourite k-pop tracks of the year so far. I’ve cobbled together 15 great songs alongside 10 equally potent honourable mentions for today and while only a few of the songs here can compare to the star studded lineup we had last year, it’s fair to say that they still pack a punch. As usual, the only rules are that it should have a music video. Special shout out to Chemical and Catch The Stars which almost made the main list.
Aespa – Girls
Apink – Dilemma
Dreamcatcher – Beauty Full (Dami Solo)
From20 – Chemical
Girls Generation – Forever 1
KB (OnlyOneOf) – Be Free
Nayeon – Pop
NewJeans – Attention
Wonho – Crazy
Woo!ah! – Catch The Stars
ASTRO – Candy Sugar Pop (full review)
A delirious return to the bright upbeat sound of their debut years, Candy Sugar Pop is Astro’s strongest and most assured effort in years, bursting forward on a tangible sense of joy and that irresistible chorus.
CSR – Pop? Pop!
Taking inspiration from the fluffy, innocent sounding pop melodies popular in the mid 2010’s, CSR hit a home run with debut effort Pop?Pop! From the gorgeous instrumental and surprisingly interesting production to the incredibly light on its feet chorus, it just manages to get everything right.
Dreamcatcher – Maison (full review)
A throw down the gauntlet effort from one of my favourite girl groups, Maison counters its initially underwhelming hook with an absolutely thrilling pre-chorus and all hands on deck climax that transforms it into one of the groups most dynamic singles
DRIPPIN – ZERO (full review)
One of the best examples of how to do noise music right, DRIPPIN roared back onto the scene with a song that only gets better the more times you hear it. The thundering percussion, searing guitar and militaristic hook all come together to create a standout performance piece that knows how to leave an impact without forgetting the importance of a great arrangement.
Golden Child – Replay (full review)
Finally taking their place as the rightful heirs to the INFINITE dynasty, Replay sees Golden Child channel their predecessors for a breathtaking electro-pop stomper with a chorus and performance to die for. It honestly doesn’t get better than this folks.
iKON – But You (full review)
Framed by one of the years most gorgeous synth lines, But You saw iKON deliver pure retro inspired greatness and one of their strongest ever singles. Its verses are some of the years best, punctuated by a beautiful, melancholic atmosphere that’s refuelled every time you hear “I’m in love again”.
IVE – Love Dive (full review)
Ethereal yet powerful, Love Dive saw IVE fully capitalise on the potential they displayed in debut effort Eleven to craft an utterly transcendent single. From the heavy percussion to the airy hook and electronic pre-chorus, it’s easily one of the years most engrossing productions.
NewJeans – Hype Boy (full review)
One of the years most addictive singles, NewJeans instantly found their sound and delivered two great debut tracks. Hype Boy stands as their strongest effort yet, perfectly channeling a laid back Y2K era jam that only gets better and better. The vibes are just immaculate here.
Red Velvet – Feel My Rhythm (full review)
Playing off a gorgeous sample of Bach’s Air On A G String, Feel My Rhythm saw Red Velvet deliver their strongest and most interesting single in years. And though I haven’t returned to it much recently, there’s no denying the strength of its stunning hook and excellent vocal performance.
RoaD-B – Nonstop (full review)
2022’s token Sweetune banger, as usual, came from a group that literally nobody’s ever heard of. But popularity shouldn’t ever determine musical merit as Nonstop pulses forward on the back of one of the years best productions and strongest hooks.
Rocket Punch – Chiquita (full review)
Anchored by an absolute whopper of a chorus, Chiquita stands as Rocket Punch’s strongest and most assured effort yet, taking advantage of the burgeoning synth pop trend to deliver a real standout. It aims for larger than life, towering synth pop anthem and just about gets there.
Taeyeon – INVU (full review)
Evocative, hypnotic and utterly mesmerising in execution, INVU stands as a landmark moment in Taeyeon’s discography, taking advantage of her incredible vocal prowess and letting it rip over an atmospheric, synth laden production that just soars during its instrumental hook. Easily my favourite Taeyeon single yet.
TAN – Du Du Du (full review)
Sometimes simple is best and by sticking to its best instincts, TAN’s Du Du Du stands as one of the years best debut singles. It’s a track that’s constantly evolving, developing its slinky central hook on each repetition and lacing its percussive, adlib assisted production with additional elements before exploding during its climax. It’s just so damn cool.
TXT – Good Boy Gone Bad (full review)
Fuelled by a healthy dose of angst and one of the years loudest, most aggressive hooks, Good Boy Gone Bad is further proof that TXT have got an inescapable grip on me. And while I could do without the post-chorus, it’s easily to bypass when everything surrounding it is so flawless. It’s definitely not for everyone but I can safely say that it’s 100% for me.
WOODZ – I hate you (full review)
A more straightforward approach towards the currently growing pop-rock trend, I hate you stands as WOODZ’ most instant single, framed by a killer chorus and an equally charismatic performance. This man just can’t do anything wrong in my eyes.