[Special] 2018 Top 100 K-Pop Songs 10-1

paradise
10. TST – PARADISE (낙원) [PARADISE]
One of the biggest surprises this year for me was TST coming back with such a jam. Unlike the more upbeat and bright music that the group previously released, PARADISE is definitely on the more somber and moodier side of things, but it works gorgeously. The verses are pretty nice, but once that stomping beat and emotional melody come scratching in, things are just taken to another level. The melody is rather choppy, but for some reason it is really effective in bringing the intensity level up. Definitely going to check out their music more if things are going to continue like this.

imsosick
09. A Pink – I’m So Sick (1도 없어) [ONE & SIX]
2018 was a big year for A Pink. Being one of the oldest girl groups around, there was a lot of curiosity in their plans for the year. I’m So Sick didn’t disappoint. Ditching the cuter and more innocent songs that have become associated with their name, this is a change into something more mature and rather sensual. What makes this song so amazing is that it just feels like a whirlwind. The verses are surprisingly memorable, but its the synth-driven chorus that really help the song stand out. The melody is more melodic and does a great job of slithering its way into your head.

nanana
08. IMFACT – Na Na Na (나나나) [Na Na Na]

IMFACT’s older releases have never really grabbed my attention. I’m not a huge fan of groups that delve more into the hip-hop sound just because it isn’t really down my lane. However, 2018 saw the group slowly move towards the dance sound and Na Na Na is exactly what I was looking for. It’s slow build and light, piercing vocals is just so addicting. It’s not the song that really blasts off, but stays at this pleasant level that is already incredibly satisfying. The chorus doesn’t feel particularly fleshed out in sound nor vocal arrangement, but is still able to come off complete.

turnitup
07. LABOUM – Turn It On (불을 켜) [I’m Yours]
Over the last year, LABOUM has slowly made their way up my favourite girl groups list just because they have consistently delivered catchy and satisfying music. 2018 saw the group ditch their brighter vibe for something a bit more sultry and it paid off. The early “Between Us” is another of my favourites of the year, but it’s this latin-inspired pop song that has one of the most gorgeous choruses of the year. Turn It On is one of the pop songs last year that really stood out in terms of passion and emotion. Soyeon does an especially great job of elevating the song with her stunning vocals.

somethingnew
06. Taeyeon – Something New [Something New]
Taeyeon’s music has generally been ballad or mid-tempo focused and while I’ve absolutely adored that, I was pleasantly surprised when she came out with this monster. Something New is driven by a pulsating funk beat and bouncy piano that sounds like nothing else. The chorus is showstopping and feels like repetition done right. It’s pretty simple, but it feels so full and complete and doesn’t sacrifice any character in order to bring out the hook. This isn’t the type of song that Taeyeon needs to belt to, but she works her voice in a way that fits the attitude of the music.

jealousy
05. MONSTA X – Jealousy [THE CONNECT: DEJAVU]
One of my most repeated songs of the year comes with Jealousy. Primarily known for their hip-hop inspired tunes, Jealousy brings a touch of that but feels satisfyingly pop with its soaring chorus and stomping beat. The verses are fine and I love the build-up, but its that first line in the chorus that gets me every time. Even when the song changes things up with its heavier hip-hop sections, it doesn’t feel like they detract from the song. Easily one of my favourite choruses of the year. I don’t know how to describe it, except with the word “euphoric”.

rollercoaster
04. Chungha – Roller Coaster [Offset]
While 2017 saw Chungha breaking out with a size-able hit, Roller Coaster put her on the map as one of the hottest rising stars in music. Roller Coaster is exactly what its title describes, a dynamic and moving ride. Chungha’s light vocals glide along the song, but she is still able to bring her own character into it. While the verses seem more sensual, its the slinky chorus that really gets the ball rolling. The melody floats but still lands at the needed spots, bringing one of the most addictive choruses.

nowornever
03. SF9 – Now or Never (질렀어) [Sensuous]
SF9 has continuously been hit or miss for me since their debut. While I’ve massively enjoyed a few of their title tracks, some of their others have been lacking. Now or Never really made me pay attention to them as a group though. Going for a harder pop/EDM sound, Now or Never is a stomping juggernaut. The powering beat with contrasting sections and cool vibe, there is something so captivating about the song. I like how the song plays a little differently from the usual K-Pop style by bringing the hook driven drop first before soaring with a wonderful melodic section.

artist
02. Soya – Artist [Artist]
I had a really difficult time picking my number one song of the year. Artist was one of the contenders and was very close. Soya really came back hard in 2018 with several releases, but it was this absolutely stunning pop song that captured my heart. I love how the music has a driving quality to it that builds slowly with each portion before launching itself into one of the best choruses I have ever heard. I love soaring choruses and this is the best example. That first line is so satisfying that it drives me nuts with how well it works with the stomping beat and Soya’s bright vocals. It reminds me of J-Pop at its best and I live for it.

savemesaveyou
01. Cosmic Girls – Save Me, Save You (부탁해) [WJ Please?]
The only reason I put Save Me, Save You ahead was because I’ve overkilled this song with how many times I’ve listened to it and I can still come back for more. Continuing with the girls’ dreamier sound, this one seems a bit heavier in its delivery with the pounding beat. While “Secret” and “Dreams come true” were both more atmosphere setting, this is probably the first example where they mixed that with a gorgeous hook-heavy melody. What I love most though is just how complex everything sounds, particularly the vocal arrangement. While I generally love melodic choruses more, this is one example where that hook-driven second half is intoxicating as well. This girl group does not disappoint.

[Special] 2018 Top 100 K-Pop Songs 20-11

scentist
20. VIXX – Scentist (향) [EAU DE VIXX]
VIXX has been going down the route of focusing on drops and repetition than actual fleshed out choruses, but in my opinion, this is their best song in a while. While 2017’s “Shangri-La” had some Eastern influences to the music, there is something haunting about the song. The verses are rather lackluster, but I love it when it gets into that chorus things just amp up, especially in the second chorus where another piece is tagged on to make things even more intense. Scentist wasn’t that interesting to me a while back, but it sneaked its way up.

ohmymistake
19. April – Oh! My Mistake (예쁜 게 죄) [The Ruby]
April has recently been going the grandiose and classic style with numbers like “April Story”, “Take My Hand” and “Blue Bird”. While I enjoyed “Blue Bird”, I was completely shocked at how infectious the synth-pop Oh! My Mistake was. I thought it was a bit of a mess when I listened to it initially, but subsequent listens really brought out its charms. It’s one of those songs that sounds like every part of it has hooks (ala AOA’s “Heart Attack”) and it feels like I hear new things each time I listen to it. I absolutely love that chorus and its even stronger in the last minute.

seesea
18. Hyolyn – SEESEA (바다보러갈래) [SEESEA]

Going the solo route was an obvious choice for Hyolyn who has some great dancing and vocal skills. SEESEA is the perfect summer song. It’s breezy, effortless and sensual but still has that touch of brightness to keep its energy infectious. Hyolyn’s raspy vocals fit it wonderfully and unlike the more subdued vocal performance in “Dally”, Hyolyn lets her voice shine in the end. The chorus is especially gorgeous with its silky melody and vocal snippets that help to create a fuller experience.

secretgarden
17. OH MY GIRL – Secret Garden (비밀정원) [Secret Garden]
“Remember Me” was the song that I was most excited to hear with its stomping synth-pop execution. However, it’s the classic charms of Secret Garden that seem to pull me back each time. What really gets me is that gorgeous orchestral chorus that makes an explosive entrance. It’s not the most cool or hook-heavy song on my list, but I feel like its overall delivery brings more emotion than a lot of other songs on the list and its the type of song that leaves me in a good mood.

shine
16. PENTAGON – Shine (빛나리) [Positive]
PENTAGON was easily my favourite boy band of 2017 and while they started off amazingly strong in 2018 with this catchy number, the rest of the year left a little more to be desired with the group’s scandal and somewhat lacking follow-up release. Shine is a juggernaut though and it kills me to think that I did not like this song that much on first listen. I thought it was completely ridiculous with its humorous vocal delivery and funky hooks. However, it’s hard to ignore this song. It has an earworm of a chorus and the guys bring so much personality that it really helps drive the song even further.

siren
15. Sunmi – Siren (사이렌) [WARNING]
While Sunmi saw some controversy with 2018’s early release, “Heroine”, she returned with an absolutely stunning tune. Siren is a return of that 80’s synth-pop sound that was so present in the Wonder Girls’ last studio album release and it is a perfect fit for Sunmi. She commands its powerful chorus with “Get away out of my face” before bringing a more playful side with the “na na na” hooks. It brings such a fun contrast to a song that is driven by a stomping beat and flashy synths.

fbadboy
14. Red Velvet – Bad Boy [The Perfect Red Velvet]
While Red Velvet has experimented with their Velvet side quite a few times already, I don’t think they quite hit the spot as perfectly as with Bad Boy. With a stronger R&B influence, this is easily the group’s most mature title track and it pays off. While I’ve loved the fun and wacky songs that the group has done in the past, this one is one of their more stream-lined songs and has a clearer focus in what it wants to achieve. The chorus isn’t the type that hits you in your face, but instead slinks its way into your head. I think what really gets me is the great vocal performance from the girls.

blackheart
13. UNB – BLACK HEART [BLACK HEART]
UNB were the boy band to come out of the show, The Unit, and while they were shortlived, there was a lot of potential here. The saddest part is that the group only released like a mini-album and a single before dissipating. BLACK HEART brings some retro funk with the bouncy piano foundation found in the chorus that is covered by a pounding beat and touches of brass and crazy synths. When you focus on the music, it feels a bit like a mess, but it works so nicely with that attention grabbing melody and hook. The energy is absolutely infectious.

oneshottwoshot
12. BoA – ONE SHOT, TWO SHOT [ONE SHOT, TWO SHOT]
As a BoA fan since good old 2004, 2018 was a great year with several releases from the international pop star. While I absolutely adored the powerful “WOMAN” and more mainstream “Nega Dola”, it was this stream-lined pop track that has kept me hooked the whole year. It has the right amount of hooks, but doesn’t sacrifice melody for repetition and retains a good balance while providing BoA with one of her most intoxicating choruses. Her nasally vocals also brings a lot of character to ONE SHOT, TWO SHOT.

lavieenrose
11. IZ*ONE – La Vie en Rose (라비앙로즈) [COLOR*IZ]
The most recent winning group from the Produce series in Korea, IZ*ONE hit off with a stellar debut. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the song this much, but there is something really charming to me about La Vie en Rose. While the song does have a pretty empty and drop-like chorus, I like that it compensates things by making the verses and pre-choruses so long and interesting. They start off slow, but there is so much change in the vocal performances and deliveries that it helps keep the energy up. The song also has a great synth refrain that is almost traditional in its sound.

[Special] 2018 Top 100 K-Pop Songs 30-21

nekkoya
30. PRODUCE 48 – Nekkoya (PICK ME) (내꺼야) [Nekkoya (PICK ME)]
I’ve loved both the PRODUCE 101 theme songs and I was looking forward to 48’s. While I wasn’t as interested at first, Nekkoya (PICK ME) grew on me after a few days. It definitely goes down the cuter route with the vocals, but there is still a powerful energy in the music that really brings in that needed punch. The chorus is as repetitive as expected and while it lacks that wonderful melodic twist of the boys’ version, there is a fun charm to its melody. As usual, that final chorus just blasts things out the water with the added synths.

jenga
29. Heize – jenga [Wish & Wind]
Heize returned this year with a slower, jazzier number. jenga doesn’t quite have the energy of last year’s “Don’t You Know”, but it makes up for it by having an absolutely stunning hook. That slow burning “I don’t wanna play this game no more, somebody help” has a hypnotic quality to it that matches the somber attitude of the music. While I’m not a huge fan of rap breaks, Gaeko works it here and it doesn’t detract from the mood of the song.

oneofthosenights
28. Key – One of These Nights (센 척 안 해) [FACE]
Three of the SHINee members released solo material this year. My favourite of the bunch was Key with the trendier One of These Nights. This song isn’t too out of place in today’s music, even taking a lot of sounds from American music. That could be seen as a double-edged sword, but Key is able to bring one of the most satisfying listens of the year. The song doesn’t rely on heavy hooks, but instead slowly glides its way into your head through its slick melody and calmer drive. I didn’t really consider Key to have a voice of a soloist, but he does a solid number here and it makes me excited for future releases.

thanks
27. SEVENTEEN – Thanks (고맙다) [Director’s Cut]
SEVENTEEN has slowly begun to go for the moodier EDM route. While it’s a bit unfortunate considering the group started with such a strong and bright pop sound, their titles haven’t really suffered from any quality loss. Thanks is an intense roller-coaster ride that switches the coldness of “Don’t Wanna Cry” for something that never quite rests. The verses still have a lot of flair to them with the ticking beat and flailing synths, the chorus slowly builds into a drop that just leaves everything in a whirlwind. It’s a really powerful but passionate song.

everyday
26. MAMAMOO – Everyday (매일 봐요) [Everyday]
2018 was one of MAMAMOO’s most active years as the group releases three EPs. However, my favourite song from them this year was actually a one-off digital single. Everyday is a tropical house tune and oddly generic, but surprisingly solid. I think part of that has to do with the fact that girls have such gratifying vocals that they can easily bring a song up. The verses are pretty fluffy and sweet and while the drop for the chorus is a bit expected, the synth riff works surprisingly well with the rest of the song. That final chorus is especially fun with the added riffs and runs by the girls.

omg
25. HALO – O.M.G [O.M.G]
HALO released a solid song last year with “Here I Am”, but it didn’t reach my top 100 list. However, the guys really stepped it up this year with the effortless O.M.G. Focusing on a pretty straight-laced dance/pop song, the chorus is really catchy and I really love the vocal performance here. I feel like there is a bit of an early 2010’s K-Pop vibe to the song as there are some 80’s elements that creep in that really help the song stand out more, especially in the current K-Pop climate.

notthattype
24. gugudan – Not That Type [Act. 5 New Action]
gugudan has been a bit of a mess in terms of sound and image. While I absolutely loved “The Boots” from earlier in the year, Not That Type slowly inched its way up my list. It was a big surprise for me since I didn’t like this song when I first heard it (and I’m still indifferent to the image change). I love that the group took on a harder sound, especially one that really takes advantage of the group’s vocals. Not That Type is a powerful dance song that has a great two-pronged chorus where both parts are equally as stellar. This is only elevated in that final minute where the belting starts coming in.

complete
23. ONF – Complete (널 만난 순간) [YOU COMPLETE ME]
ONF have two of my favourite mini-albums. While not as effortless as their first, the second one had some really amazing pop tracks on it. The title track, Complete, is a soaring pop song that works well with the group’s bright image. The verses are fun and that pre-chorus does a great job of setting things up, but it’s that explosive and energetic chorus that makes it one of the most exciting of the year. Even the second part, which focuses more on a sax-riff is surprisingly catchy, especially tied with the tidbits of rap. It’s a solid mainstream offering.

bboombboom
22. MOMOLAND – Bboom Bboom (뿜뿜) [GREAT!]
The surprise hit of the year came in the first month with this stellar tune. Focused on a funky sax riff, Bboom Bboom is a juggernaut of a song. It’s one of those songs where every part of it is just filled with a hook, as even the verses are incredibly catchy. However, that gliding chorus is just so infectious with its bouncy beat and slithering hooks. It also works great as it moves into the sax-riff break. That rap break in the middle is a bit jarring at times as it moves into trap territory, but there is still some fun to it that works with the rest of the song.

snapshot
21. IN2IT – SnapShot [SnapShot]
IN2IT only released one EP in 2017 after the group had competed on BOYS24. While it was decent, it didn’t really stand out among the rest of the boy band releases from the year. SnapShot really changed that though. The song is a throwback to 2010 with its over-the-top execution. The almost cringey talking parts, the dramatic melody and dynamic synths just make this song so weird at times that it all works. I love the chorus and its campy-ness and the guys just sell it so well. Of course, that’s backed by that stellar funk bassline.

[Special] 2018 Top 100 K-Pop Songs 40-31

sober
40. Suzy – SObeR [Faces of Love]
While Suzy’s first mini was more serious, I was excited to see that her second was much more playful. This feeling is especially embodied in the EP’s second single, SObeR, a funky midtempo pop song that brings in a bit of oldschool R&B influence. The song never really explodes with energy, but the bouncy music and cheeky vocal delivery help to keep everything fun and carefree. The hook is especially catchy and I love how Suzy’s airy vocals deliver it so cleverly. It’s just a groovy tune.

lady
39. Golden Child – LADY [Miracle]
For me, the biggest grower of the year came with Golden Child’s LADY. As it is a Sweetune song by a Woolim Ent. boy band, it takes a lot of elements from Infinite’s past music with its heavy synth backing and soaring arrangement. At first, I thought the song was decent, but nothing too amazing, however, over the past year the melody has just stuck in my head. The hook is pretty simple with the “you’re my lady” line just being repeated over, but it’s the overall execution with that gorgeous instrumental and wonderful vocal performance that really get me.

summerdream
38. ELRIS – Summer Dream [Summer Dream]
Another grower came with ELRIS’ bright and summery Summer Dream. Like the last song, it’s not just the hook that got me into the song, but its overall feeling and delivery. That explosive chorus opening just gets me every time and it really embodies the feeling of summer. While I do find the verses somewhat forgettable, that pre-chorus does a great job of setting things up for that euphoric chorus. The girls don’t have particularly strong vocals, but their light and girlish voices really work well here.

myflower
37. JBJ – My Flower (꽃이야) [True Colors]
Project group, JBJ, had a short-lived release time, clocking in at only 7 months. However, the group released quite a few solid tunes, especially this light-funk/pop song. My Flower takes elements from tropical house as well, but uses them as an addition rather than as the main focus, which I was really happy about. That groovy beat that runs beneath the chorus is absolutely intoxicating and I love the bright energy of the melody. Everything just soars, especially in the final chorus where it just goes up one more level. There are a few things that could be tweaked on, but it’s a stunning tune.

ipromiseu
36. Wanna One – I Promise You (I.P.U) (약속해요) [0+1=1 (I PROMISE YOU)]
Another project group, Wanna One released a number of songs in 2018. While a lot of them were hit or miss, the one that resonated most with me was the EDM-charged I Promise You (I.P.U). The music is a bit more on the generic side with its slow build-up into that drop and piercing synth riff. What really sells me on the song though is the beat that comes in after the first chorus that really drives the song forward and the gorgeous melody that highlight’s the group’s strongest vocalists.

imean
35. UNI.T – I Mean (난말야) [Begin with the End]
The third project group in a row, UNI.T unfortunately didn’t see as much success as the last two boy bands. However, this Brave Brothers dance tune is such an earworm. I Mean has a pretty classic Brave sound with its light synths and hook-heavy chorus. What really sells the song is the girls’ performance and the distinctive vocals heard throughout really helps to bring some needed edge. That and that chorus is unapologetically catchy. My favourite part comes from the bridge where N.CA’s strong vocals really power the rest of the song.

touch
34. NCT U – Timeless (텐데…) [NCT 2018 EMPATHY]
For some reason, for 2018 I haven’t found too many ballad tracks that really stood out to me. Timeless was a bit of a blow. NCT U already had that stunning “WITHOUT U” that only featured three of its vocalists and Timeless brings the same three back. I’m not a big fan of the group’s hip-hop offerings, but this piano ballad makes me want to continue checking the group out. While the melody is quite gorgeous, all three of the boys featured here have stunning vocals that really carry it. The final minute is amazing. I really hope they bring these three back again for another stellar slow song.

sunset
33. Kim Dong Han – SUNSET [D-DAY]
Kim Dong Han was the first member of JBJ to branch out. Going the solo route, Kim Dong Han’s nasally but distinctive vocals are able to carry the song nicely. SUNSET is a crazy dance/pop tune with its static backing and touches of synths. It was something that wasn’t expected as I love the EDM elements that feel transformed to deliver something a bit different. The chorus doesn’t have the type of melody that really hooks you in at first, but it has some really subtle and stellar parts that slowly gain strength with repeated listens.

thatday
32. Lovelyz – That Day (그날의 너) [Heal]
It has been a while since I’ve absolutely loved a Lovelyz song. While the group has some pretty solid material, their title tracks haven’t quite felt this effortlessly amazing in a while. That Day is an upbeat pop tune with a really bright delivery that focuses a lot of on the synths. The chorus reminds me a lot of the group’s big hit, “Ah-Choo”, with its focus on an explosive hook. It still has that Lovelyz’s sound, but trades the stronger cute elements for something a bit more streamlined. That synth riff is especially gorgeous as well.

beautifulpain
31. BTOB – Beautiful Pain (아름답고도 아프구나) [Hour Moment]
With BTOB slowly starting to enlist, the group released this mini without their leader and main vocalist. Luckily, the group is made up of some stellar vocalists that could fill in the gaps. Beautiful Pain takes its pages from 2017’s “Missing You”, with its focus on a gorgeous piano line and emotional delivery. I actually find this song reminds me more of something from J-Pop than K-Pop and I love that. While the verses aren’t particularly interesting to me, the pre-chorus and chorus are stunning. It doesn’t try to win you over with powerful vocals, but instead there seems to be a bit more attention to the details of the feeling it wants to give.

[Special] 2018 Top 100 K-Pop Songs 50~41

iwannabeaceleb
50. Celeb Five – Celeb Five (I Wanna Be a Celeb) (셀럽파이브 (셀럽이 되고 싶어)) [Celeb No.1]
A cover of Angie Gold’s “Eat You Up”, Celeb Five (I Wanna Be a Celeb) is a fast-paced 80’s dance/pop tune. The song tied with the music video is meant to give a more humorous vibe as it is covered by five comedians, however, the song by itself sounds like a serious cover from the 80’s. I already loved the Japanese cover of this song, so this was a great choice. The energy of the beat, wicked guitar and flying synths allows to song to blast off. The melody is pretty catchy and ties in nicely with the rest of the song.

righthere
49. The Boyz – Right Here [The Sphere]
The Boyz released quite a few songs in 2018 and while all of the title tracks were solid, Right Here is my favourite of the batch. It has an explosive pop song that really works with the brightness of the group’s other material. That chorus is especially satisfying with its layered delivery. At times, it seems like there is just too much going on, but it comes off really focused and everything feels executed perfectly. The guys also sound great and their boyish vocals really tie in with the song’s energy.

lovebomb
48. fromis_9 – Love Bomb [From.9]
fromis_9 debuted at the tail-end of 2017, but also released a number of EPs throughout 2018. Their most recent, which helped the group gain some popularity includes the infectious Love Bomb. I was not that interested in this song at first because there are times that it comes off a bit messy. However, there is a great energy to it that is similar to the last song (by The Boyz). The chorus hook is simple and sweet and is utilized in a lot of fun ways to make it easy to sing along to. Even between that, there are some nice instances of melody that sneak in to break the repetition.

touch
47. NCT 127 – TOUCH [NCT 2018 EMPATHY]
I haven’t really been able to connect with NCT that much still, but they have slowly started to bring in some stellar sounding tunes the more they release. NCT 127 impressed me the most on the NCT album with this classic number. TOUCH tries to bring some great 90’s R&B elements while also modernizing things. The song actually reminds me of something that SHINee or EXO might do with its euphoric and soaring chorus. The melody is absolutely gorgeous and it really brings me in each time. The music also stays on the simple side and tries not to overshadow the rest of the song.

latata
46. (G)-IDLE – LATATA [I AM]
One of the most anticipated debuts of the year, especially for girl groups, (G)-IDLE blasted on the scenes with this slinky tropical house tune. LATATA is a little different from the lighter and brighter material sounds of the genre as it brings some darker, hip-hop elements that help make it stand out. While I do find the arrangement of the song to be a bit slow at times, the melody really drives the song forward. It’s fun, catchy and matches the power of the beats. The members do a great job here, especially Soyeon, with her hard-hitting raps.

iloveyou
45. EXID – I LOVE YOU (알러뷰) [I LOVE YOU]
EXID finally returns as five with I LOVE YOU and Solji’s vocals have been missed by me. While it doesn’t have the playful sexiness of 2017’s “DDD”, this one still has some really charming points. As expected, the song uses EXID’s usual song structure with Junghwa and Hani singing in the verses while LE twists in with some rapping and the explosive Hyelin and Solji belted chorus. The hook is a bit grating at times, but I still love the attitude. It’s that chorus that skyrockets the song though and I love the power the girls bring.

tempo
44. EXO – Tempo [Don’t Mess Up My Tempo]
Tempo was not what I was expecting from EXO, especially compared to last year’s “Ko Ko Bop”, but I’ve slowly grown to really enjoy this song. The thing I love is that groovy beat found throughout the song’s foundation, especially in the verses. There are times where the melody gets a bit all over the place, but the beat really keeps the focus. The chorus is really fun and the hooks just hit every part perfectly. However, my favourite part of the song comes with that final bridge and the wonderful harmonies.

one
43. Samuel – ONE [ONE]
Samuel keeps bringing some hits and some misses, but I can definitely say I love ONE. It reminds me a bit more of “Sixteen”, with its dance/pop elements and heavy synth play. I do find Samuel’s voice to be a bit high-pitched to really deliver this song fully, but he still works with what he’s got. One thing I love is that the verses are so short and sweet before going into a solid pre-chorus. It really sets things up for that infectious chorus melody that works great with that pounding synth beat. Ilhoon’s rap is a bit of an odd choice though.

fullmoon
42. Dreamcatcher – Full Moon [Full Moon]
While Dreamcatcher released two full EPs in 2018, it was this standalone single that grabbed my attention. I find that Full Moon is exactly what I’m looking from the group. I love the slow and dramatic build-up for the verses into the pre-chorus. The chorus takes on a more pop/rock sound and comes with that token ‘anime theme song’ kind of sound, which I’m totally down for. It’s explosive, but still focuses a lot on the catchiness of the melody to get its point across. Classic Dreamcatcher.

lullaby
41. GOT7 – Lullaby [Present:YOU]
Since the FLIGHT trilogy, GOT7 has surprisingly tried to change the direction of their music. Instead of bringing some heavier hip-hop elements into their title tracks, there seems to be a mix of hip-hop and some pop and funk. Lullaby is a surprising twist. I love the hip-hop elements in the verses and the raps are pulled off more naturally here. However, it’s that flowing chorus that hooks me. While the transition into it is a bit weak music-wise, the melody is really sleek and catchy. Both sections of the chorus are just so easy to get into.

[Special] 2018 Top 100 K-Pop Songs 60~51

hihigh
60. LOOΠΔ – Hi High [+ +]
LOOΠΔ’s full group debut was easily one of the most anticipated of 2018 as the build-up of a year and a half of solo and subunit releases easily heightened expectations. While Hi High is a solid song that is more in tune with the sounds of OEC, I don’t quite think it hits with the same power. With that said, there are some really fantastic parts to it. I love its more sci-fi sounding opening and the song’s bouncy, sparkling synth display. The chorus could push a little harder, but the simple hook really makes it an easy earworm. Definitely excited for their next release.

bloomingdays
59. EXO-CBX – Blooming Day (花요일) [Blooming Days]
The last time EXO-CBX released material, they released a really solid title track in the form of “Hey Mama!”, an explosive pop/funk tune. Building on that sound, Blooming Days doesn’t quite have the same power to it, but instead grooves its way in. I love the sensuality of the verses as the guys have great tones that lend themselves well to the calmer parts. The chorus is a bit of a slow burner and takes some time to really hit its stride, but I feel like this is the kind of song that just keeps getting better the more times I listen to it.

spotlight
58. VAV – Gorgeous (예쁘다고) [Spotlight]
I really love K-Pop songs that take bring some funk elements and Gorgeous is yet another one. VAV had some great songs in 2017 and while 2018 was a bit of a hit or miss, this is definitely a strong title track. That great riff that stays throughout the song really gives the song the needed push, especially when paired with the addition to the synths and brass of the chorus. The melody is also quite catchy, but it’s the second half with its “oooh” hook that really leaves the mark.

yesoryes
57. TWICE – YES or YES [YES or YES]
I was a little disappointed in 2018 because I wasn’t as impressed by TWICE’s title tracks as much as in 2017 with the likes of “Likey”, “Heart Shaker” and “Knock Knock”. Fortunately, they did still release some solid material. YES or YES is probably my favourite of the four Korean title tracks with its typical bright TWICE style. The lyrics are a bit odd, especially considering a lot of recent social issues, but its bright nature and catchy melody is hard to deny. Actually, my favourite parts are the verses and I love the way they are sung.

blackdress
56. CLC – BLACK DRESS [BLACK DRESS]
Unfortunately, CLC only made one comeback this year and it was at the start of the year. Although they were originally going to perform IZ*ONE’s “La Vie en Rose”, it was scrapped. BLACK DRESS is still a pretty stellar tune as the girls return to the infectious girl-crush style that had brought them some interest the year prior. While I love the cool riff and simple hook of the chorus, it’s actually the tension building pre-chorus that always gets me. That and Yeeun’s rap just powers the song. Hopefully we see a few releases from the group this year.

shebad
55. MYTEEN – SHE BAD [F;UZZLE]
MYTEEN has released two consistently solid title tracks, so I’m still a little surprised their company is not pumping out the songs. While SHE BAD goes in a darker funk route compared to their bright debut, it’s a great sensual tune. The falsetto first half of the chorus isn’t particularly powerful, but it works well to highlight that groovy beat, while the second half comes in really propel the song forward. My only gripe with the song is the rap as the English parts sound a bit ridiculous and silly.

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54. Seungri – 1, 2, 3! (셋 셀테니) [THE GREAT SEUNGRI]
While BIG BANG isn’t a group I’m particularly attached to, the members always know how to deliver some pretty stellar songs. I wasn’t expecting Seungri to come with the pop/rock 1, 2, 3! as it has a great energy to it that makes you really want to chant along. I do wish the chorus was a little more fleshed out as they sound quite bare, but the verses are charming enough to even it out. Seungri’s nasally vocals are also able to keep up with the music’s energy.

getit
53. PRISTIN V – Get It (네 멋대로) [Like a V]
PRISTIN didn’t see a full group comeback this year, but at least fans were given a subunit that was able to separate its sound from the wacky, hook-heavy pop songs of the original group. Get It brings some more mainstream sounds with its heavy trap and R&B influences. It gets a bit lost in the overall year’s sounds, but that winding riff and catchy melody really give the song some needed punch. The girls are also able to flex their talent a little more, which is always a plus.

hatredfarewell
52. Shannon – Hatred Farewell (미워해 널 잘 지내지는 마) [Hatred Farewell]
Shannon had one of my favourite songs last year with the powerful “Love Don’t Hurt”. Returning this year with something a little more straightforward, Hatred Farewell is a classic piano ballad. What really powers this song is Shannon’s stellar vocal delivery. Ballads can be a hit or miss with me in K-Pop, but when you have someone with this much emotion and punch to their voice, it’s hard to overlook it. Even while being so technique-based, she never loses that much needed sadness.

lower
51. Amber, Luna – Lower [Lower]
I feel a bit weird for putting this so high as this is a very generic EDM tune, especially when you compare it to Luna’s “Free Somebody”, which is easily one of the best songs to come out of K-Pop in recent years. Lower suffers a bit from a rather laid back chorus that really focuses on that bouncy synth riff, however, I just feel so drawn to the song. I love Luna’s tone and Amber also gives a solid delivery while that funky chorus always comes back to me. It might not be the strongest song on my list, but it has to be doing something right.

[Special] 2018 Top 100 K-Pop Songs 80-71

deepinside
80. Han Heejun – DEEP INSIDE [DEEP INSIDE]
Han Heejun first came prominence for his ninth place finish on American Idol before placing in the top six in K-Pop Star. DEEP INSIDE starts off sounding like a piano ballad, but soon the electro beat and synths come sliding in and gives the song some more intensity and power. The song is a pretty gorgeous display of vocals between both Heejun and the featured artist, Ladies’ Code’s Sojung. Both of their vocals draw out the right emotions and make this a swirling, dark experience.

newworld
79. AlphaBAT – New World (신세계) [New World]
It is weird to think that AlphaBAT has been around since 2012 and has gone through numerous line-up changes. Luckily, despite their “nugu” status, the boy group has released a pretty classic dance/pop song with New World. The song recalls the sound of the early 2010’s with its explosive energy and strong melodic emphasis. I feel like while the melody isn’t as powerful as the music, it has a way of really hitting at the right moments. This makes me want to check out their future music.

color
78. Jung Jinwoo – Color (색) [ROTATE]
This year, the laid back R&B sound that has come out of Korea hasn’t quite hit me with a really strong song, but Color is a really great example of experimenting and still delivering a euphoric sound. Jung Jinwoo’s breathy vocals help to carry the verses, but it’s that absolutely stunning chorus where things just blast off. Opting for a higher and more nasally tone, Jung Jinwoo powers through that heightening melody that brings such a stark contrast to the cooler vibes of the verse. It’s one of the more interesting examples that have come out lately from K-R&B.

whoami
77. TRCNG – Wolf Baby [Who Am I]
While the song recalls the EXO days of “Wolf”, Wolf Baby is a pretty solid dance/pop song. New boy group TRCNG hasn’t quite made a mark for themselves yet, but I was not expecting to like a song like this. The chorus is especially refreshing with its simple, but well-executed melody that is emphasized by that powerful guitar and percussion backing. Despite the song’s ridiculous name and odd lyrics, it’s the type of song that is easy to sing along to. My favourite part is that early 00’s K-Pop inspired rap that comes pounding in as the bridge.

wowthing
76. Seulgi, SinB, Chungha and Soyeon – Wow Thing [Wow Thing]
Wow Thing comes popping in as a special collaboration between these four artists. I’m all for collaborations, especially if they are pulled off really well and this is a prime example. Wow Thing is a 90’s Mariah Carey inspired Ariana Grande pop/R&B song. It has that fluffiness that never quite keeps it grounded but still packs a punch in that unison sung chorus. Each of the girls show their strengths, although it is definitely Soyeon’s rap halfway through that really grabs the most attention.

wegoup
75. NCT DREAM – We Go Up [We Go Up]
I’m usually not a fan of groups that go towards a stronger hip-hop sound just because it is a genre I listen to often. While it isn’t as strong as last year’s intoxicating ‘My First and Last’, We Go Up is a surprisingly fun blend of hip-hop and pop. The verses are a bit surprising and make it difficult to really see the group as the younger unit from NCT due to the powerful rap delivery. However, once the vocal parts come in, the song gains some innocence that really works to build up to that simple, hooked chorus with its pounding electro beat.

ddududdudu
74. BLACKPINK – DDU-DU DDU-DU (뚜두뚜두) [Square Up]
Although I didn’t feel like BLACKPINK didn’t hit the same quality pop melodies as last year’s ‘As If It’s Your Last’, DDU-DU DDU-DU is still a pretty exciting listen. The fast-paced raps, exhilarating build-up and eventual drop that doesn’t lead to a total dud really helps to keep the energy of this song up throughout its entirety. While I’m not usually as inclined to listen to hip-hop songs, the fun hooks and attitude just make it hard to gloss over this overpowering delivery.

touchit
73. CROSS GENE – Touch It (달랑말랑) [Zero]
CROSS GENE has yet to make much a mark in K-Pop and with the recent loss of Takuya, it seems things are even more bleak. However, the group has continued to bring some quality bops and Touch It is no different. While it doesn’t have the fun contrasts of last year’s ‘Black or White’, Touch It takes on the more overdone tropical house, but is still able to bring a surprisingly solid entry with its melancholic undertones. Obviously, things are a bit more generic, but the guys seem to pull of these different sound without trouble.

flowerroad
72. BIG BANG – Flower Road (꽃 길) [Flower Road]
With BIG BANG’s enlistment came this random digital single and it is yet another quality release. I’ve always leaned more towards the group’s slower songs and Flower Road is exactly what I’m looking for from the group. The verses aren’t particularly exciting for me, but that chorus is surprisingly refreshing. The melodic delivery works wonderfully to keep the song from getting too dull from its more midtempo vibe and the guys sound great. It’s not one of their best songs, but it has a charm to it that only BIG BANG seems to pull of.

rumor
71. Guk.Syu (PRODUCE 48) – Rumor [30 Girls 6 Concepts]
I know this is yet another tropical house tune, but I still don’t have a problem with the genre when it is done well. Probably the most anticipated song from the six concepts, Rumor is a bit on the sexier and more powerful side. What I love is that the sound is elevated in ways so the song isn’t totally dependent on that drop for the chorus. Instead, we get a catchy and lowkey sounding hook with a delivery that matches perfectly with the title while it is intertwined with a more powerful line and touches of rap. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but the potential is totally there.