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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.