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.
50-41 (+ honourable mentions) // 40 – 31 // 30 – 21
20. Alice – Dance On
The number 1 hallmark of a good rebranding is an instantly captivating debut effort. And though the commercial success of this particular venture is yet to be seen for Alice (formerly Elris), they absolutely knocked it out of the park with the massive Dance On. Taking on the thrilling dance pop sound popularised and perfected by KARA years ago, Dance On gets almost everything right, climaxing in an utterly majestic layered centrepiece that delivers the thrills without any of the unnecessary fills. Lord knows if they’ll continue down this route for further comebacks but Dance On is any indication, it fits them like a glove!
19. Rocket Punch – Chiquita (review)
Bar its head scratcher of an opening verse, Chiquita is the sound of group coming into their own, shattering expectations in thrilling fashion. Anchored by its 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 an undeniable standout that only got more and more potent over time. However Chiquita reserves its secret weapon for the climax, unexpectedly veering into an extended coda that introduces some dynamic electric guitar and twists the synth textures in the most satisfying of directions.
18. iKON – But You (review)
With a future clouded in uncertainty following the departure of their leader and primary producer, iKon were a group in flux for the greater part of the last few years. After so long away from the scene and a number of external events, could they group really measure up to not only their peers but their own incredibly strong legacy? Well, 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 the wonderfully placed “I’m in love again”.
17. Dreamcatcher – Maison (review)
Though fans of the groups pure rock sound were left quite cold, Maison was the sound of Dreamcatcher evolving, shifting into more electronic territory for a title track and one that traded the expected killer centrepiece for a song and structure that was much more experimental. The result is one of the groups most dynamic singles, building to a feverish peak during its flawless extended pre-chorus and utterly enthralling verses. Both of which no doubt remain some of the years finest.
16. Taeyeon – INVU (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. There’s just something so enthralling about watching a bonafide legend encapsulate almost everything that makes them so great into a track and if anything, INVU stands as a near perfect conduit for Taeyeon to do so. And boy does it pay off.
15. Dreamcatcher – Vision (review)
The 2022 Dreamcatcher comeback for those who were left cold by Maison‘s hum drum chorus, Vision managed to bring the best of both worlds, gathering interest with its gritty, cyberpunk esque production during the verses before exploding into a shout to the rafters, nu-metal inspired centrepiece that’s right up there with some of the groups finest. It just goes so damn hard, fully embracing the groups rock-metal concept but this time actually going head first into the more metal aspects of the sound to deliver a single that not only impressed immensely on first listen but one that has so far easily stood the test of time.
14. CSR – Pop? Pop!
In a year that saw the debut of a number of very promising girl groups, CSR seemingly appeared out of nowhere to deliver one of the years strongest and most classic sounding tunes with debut effort Pop? Pop!. I’m a massive sucker for this highly melodic, innocent, pop sound and with an arrangement heavily resembling the sounds of both GFriend and especially Lovelyz, Pop?Pop! managed to hit almost every single one of my musical sweet sweet spots. But even without the strength of its influences, Pop? Pop! stands strong on its own thanks to a convincing performance and absolutely gorgeous melody.
13. DRIPPIN – The One
Bolstered by one of the years most invigorating instrumentals that almost perpetually keeps the track in double time, The One is one of DRIPPIN’s most thrilling ventures yet, mixing the musical merits of both its predecessors to deliver a breathtaking knockout finale to their “Villain” series. From the distorted guitar to the very SM-esque breakdown before the bridge, The One sounds like the kind of song NCT 127 should *theoretically* be giving us on the regular. It’s ambitious but still wonderfully streamlined, bringing together a number of musical influences that should theoretically collapse when together but instead shine thanks to a wonderfully melodic chorus that feels like a real centrepiece. What a track!
12. TAN – DU DU DU (review)
Though much of TAN’s output throughout the year would fail to really resonate with me, debut effort Du Du Du stood as the outlier, giving us one of the most addictive tracks of the year. Sometimes simple is best and by sticking to its best instincts, TAN’s Du Du Du stands as not only one of the best debut singles of the year but one of its best singles period. It’s a track that’s in constant flux, 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 effortlessly cool and a sound I wish the group would revisit sometime in the future.
11. from20 – Chemical
If Weol was the entree, then Chemical was no doubt the main course, taking the the synth-wave inspired tendencies of its predecessor and upping the tempo to deliver one of 2022’s biggest and best tears on the dance floor style bangers. The production here is utterly transcendent, latching onto arguably the years strongest synth-line, which absolutely explodes during the Chemical‘s show stopping two part chorus. One that shifts flawlessly between a more melodic first half and shout along second half. A clear slam dunk effort from one of the industry’s best kept secrets.
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