Now, before we get into it, we gotta set some ground rules:
- To be eligible for this list, the song must have been released between the 1st of January 2022 and 15th December 2022.
- Song must be paired with a full music video and be promoted to some extent.
- Songs must be by a Korean artist and be in either Korean or English (Japanese / Chinese singles will get their own seperate countdown)
- And finally, this is all just my opinion. There is much bias to be found and if you’re unhappy with any of the placements, just remember that this is not meant to be a purely objective list.
40. Dami (Dreamcatcher) – Beauty Full
Dreamcatcher’s very strong April album heralded solo efforts from each of the members and while they were each strong in their own ways (Siyeon’s gorgeous Entrancing stands as another clear standout), It was the pop rock punch of Dami’s Beauty Full that stole the show. Yes it may be very Olivia Rodrigo / early Paramore style in execution but honestly, why fix something that isn’t broken?
39. Tempest – Can’t Stop Shining
A delightful pop trifle that harkened back to the melodically buoyant sounds of debut era ASTRO, Can’t Stop Shining matched its potentially on the nose hook with some of the years strongest and most effortlessly buoyant verses.Those opening synths are like candy to my ears, recalling some of the best and most enjoyable pure pop tracks of the mid 2010’s and its recurrent usage especially during the oft repeating “turn it up” hook helps the track carry a wonderful throwback vibe. It’s hard not to love this fizzy head rush of a track.
38. Yoojung (OnlyOneOf) – Begin (review)
OnlyOneOf’s Underground idol series was one of 2022’s best surprises and it all started with the muted, emotive synth laden majesty of Yoojung’s Begin. Musically, Begin harkens back to the jerky Artpop style of the groups work and gives it a smoothed, atmospheric makeover, utilising a rumbling synth backbone contrasted with a more dreamy top line. This darker synth wave sound has always been one of my favourites and when combined with Yoojung’s evocative vocals, Begin more than succeeds in its mission.
37. KB (OnlyOneOf) – be free
The second single in OnlyOneOf’s ambitious ‘Underground Idol‘’ series, be free built upon the moody sounds of predecessor Begin but upped the funk to deliver an absolute standout effort. The bass line here is terrific, supported by licks of rhythm guitar and a production that just knows where to go and when to do it. The extended instrumental breakdown just before the tracks climax however stands as the tracks most inspired moment, perfectly clearing the air to lend to a standout climax that puts full focus on KB’s emotive performance. One that makes sure to draw every little bit of emotion and nuance from the production..
36. Red Velvet – Feel My Rhythm (review)
Playing off a gorgeous (and heavily butchered) sample of Bach’s Air On A G String, Feel My Rhythm could have easily gone horribly wrong. Instead, in a moment of absolute brilliance, it saw Red Velvet deliver their strongest and most interesting single in years. And though that janky trap inspired opening verse slightly blunted the tracks long term replayability, its utterly gorgeous hook and mesmerising vocal performance ensured the maintenance of its incredible quality throughout the months.
35. Woodz – I hate you (review)
A more straightforward approach towards the currently growing pop-rock trend, I hate you stands as WOODZ’ most instant single yet, framed by a killer chorus and an equally charismatic performance. From its incredibly shoutable lyrics to its consistent, impish energy, I hate you knows its aim and has a laser focused desire to perfectly match it. A sense of commitment that works wonders for the final product. This man just can’t do anything wrong in my eyes. Just absolutely magnetic.
34. woo!ah! – Rollercoaster
A full realisation of the potential displayed in January’s Catch the stars, woo!ah! reached a feverish peak with the pure, undiluted pop goodness of Rollercoaster. Bar the poorly placed (yet expected) chants, this is a near perfect blend of classic girl group pop and modern day sensibilities, harnessing a propulsive production and one of the years strongest and most assured choruses. Many might call this track a walking chorus but I mean if the chorus is this great, why not show it off!
33. ENHYPEN – Future Perfect (Pass the Mic) (review)
The years biggest and most divisive hype track, Future Perfect arrived as one of the years most disappointing comebacks but quickly blossomed into one of its best. With a single minded nature to entertain and an infectious all or nothing energy that quickly became hard to ignore, Future Perfect quickly slot itself easily at the top of ENHYPEN’s singles run and in the upper echelons of the groups already rock solid discography. Crank this one up as loud as you can.
32. NewJeans – Attention
One part of the years biggest debut, Attention‘s airy, laid back Y2K era sound was an absolute revelation upon release. It drew perfectly from 90’s era sounds whilst still coating its production with a modern sheen that perfectly struck a chord with audiences around the world. An incredibly rhythmic production, Attention‘s oft repeated, cut, adlibs and gorgeous, airy harmonies during the hook results in one of the years most satisfying centrepieces. It perfectly conjures a Y2K era RnB soundscape and doesn’t try too hard, instead playing off its restraint to deliver a number of instantly addictive and very quotable hooks that go down incredibly well.
31. Sorn – Sharp Objects
While it doesn’t technically qualify as a K-pop song under the rules of the countdown (considering it’s performed entirely in English by a non Korean artist), Sorn gets a pass thanks to her heavy ties to the Korean music industry and the undeniable quality of her synth drenched dance number, Sharp Objects. Bolstered by a propulsive cocaine laced beat that perfectly matches the tears on the dance floor nature of the song, Sharp Objects is Sorn at her most magnetic. The waterfall synths that frame the hook are an expertly placed production choice, one that’s only enhanced by the surrounding verses and cavalcade of addictive hooks.