Oh ho ho, with the year coming to a close are posts about year-end award ceremonies as well as recaps about how 2018 was overall. For this first part, I’ll be listing my top 10 K-Pop Songs of the Year. Please keep in mind that these are just my personal favorites from this year and that just because a particular song made it onto my list doesn’t necessarily mean that the song was good (there’s a difference! lol).
It was extremely difficult coming up with my Top 10 list not only because there were many releases this year, but also because there were quite a few solid releases this year in terms of both albums and title tracks. As I was looking through my playlist, I kept on adding more and more songs to the list which wasn’t helping because I had more than ten songs included on it. I eventually narrowed it down to ten tracks, but have also included several honorable mentions as well as a separate category for my favorite albums of the year. Without further ado, here are my honorable mentions of 2018 (in no particular order):
A Pink – I’m So Sick
There’s nothing about ‘I’m So Sick’ that we haven’t seen before in K-Pop. It’s another song reliant on the tropical house sound that we’ve heard plenty of times before in K-Pop. However, I think what made ‘I’m So Sick’ stand out to me was the fact that it was sung by A Pink whose concepts and image up until this point consisted of cute and bubbly pop songs which they’ve been promoting since their debut 7 years ago. The girl group finally changed things up this time with ‘I’m So Sick’ which was a slightly edgier, more sophisticated, and mature concept of the members. Though it might have arrived a little bit late into their career and this kind of image would have definitely propelled A Pink to even bigger stardom a few years back when they were still the trend, I guess it’s better late than never. The song itself is catchy and each of the parts that makes up the entire song stands out on its own. The transitions to the song feel effortless and smooth, and there never was a random beat drop or sound in the song that seemed out of place. ‘I’m So Sick’ might not be the best K-Pop song, but it was an impressive release for the fact that A Pink finally delivered with a new side to themselves and was able to execute this new concept decently. Plus, the song was safe for the most part and never attempted to do more than it could handle. While ‘I’m So Sick’ might not have made it on my top 10, it’s for these reasons that I decided to include it in my Honorable Mentions. (Fun fact: I actually had no plans to listen to this song at first until my sister played it in the car and I was forced to listen to it. Since then, the track grew on me and I ended up listening to it repeatedly).
Crush – Cereal
I was close to listing Crush’s 2018 album ‘wonderlost‘ in my favorite albums of the year since b-side tracks ‘Endorphin’ and ‘Close Your Eyes’ were two other tracks from the album that I’ve also listened to non-stop alongside ‘Cereal.’ However, I eventually decided to just list ‘Cereal’ under my Honorable Mentions because ‘wonderlost’ wasn’t as impressive as the other albums that made it on the list and because ‘Cereal’ itself wasn’t enough to make it into the Top 10. Regardless, I think we can all agree that people are familiar with Crush and some might even have high expectations for his music. Known for his smooth R&B vocals as well as hit songs like ‘Sometimes’, ‘Oasis’, and Goblin OST ‘Beautiful’, Crush has really
blessed gifted fans with great songs over the years. With his latest album ‘wonderlost’, I personally felt as if Crush toned things down a little bit. ‘Cereal’ was not the out-going and loud hip-hop song that ‘Oasis’ was (despite also featuring Zico) or the melancholy and heart-breaking track that ‘Sometimes’ was. Some people might have expected more from Crush with his latest album, but ‘Cereal’ was simple, mellow, and laid-back for the most part. The song would pick up speed then slow down and then pick up speed again, but it remained a repetitive cycle for the most part with no twists or turns. Zico’s rap also easily blended into the song and thankfully didn’t do any harm to it (though I can’t say the same for his rap in ‘Oasis’). ‘Cereal’ played it safe and didn’t really do much for the most part. While I might enjoy Crush’s other tracks more like ‘Sometimes‘, ‘Oasis‘, and ‘2411‘, ‘Cereal’ was an overall enjoyable track. There wasn’t a lot going on, but it was also still cute and fun and easy to listen to.
Katie Kim – Remember
I’m not all that familiar with K-Pop Star so I can’t comment much on the contestants and who signed with which label. Though I still don’t know much about Katie Kim who won the 4th season of K-Pop star, the singer finally made her debut in June of this year after
years of being stuck in the YG dungeon joining AXIS (a company run by YG’s former creative director SINXITY). Fans who had been patiently waiting for the anticipated debut of the female soloist were able to hear her sing again in her debut ‘Remember.’ I think what mainly made this song work for me was definitely Katie’s vocals. She sort of reminds me of another Lee Hi with the soulful, smooth, and genuine R&B vocals that are difficult to come by in K-Pop/the Korean music industry. The music video to ‘Remember’ was also pretty cool and I especially liked how a bunch of different rappers made an appearance in the music video. The song is repetitive and also never really does much, but Katie Kim’s voice is what made the song enjoyable. ‘Remember’ sounds cool, the music video looks cool and impressive, and Katie Kim finally made her debut after suffering for years in YG. I’m just glad she finally got to see the light of day with this satisfying debut.
Mamamoo – Wind Flower
Mamamoo’s ‘Wind Flower’ was just recently released, but it easily made it on my list of Honorable Mentions for a few reasons. I don’t follow Mamamoo much so I’m not all that up to date with them, their careers, their performances, or really anything they do. However, I decided to check out ‘Wind Flower’ since I saw that they were promoting it alongside Red Velvet’s ‘Really Bad Boy’ so I decided to just check things out. I was actually quite impressed with the first few seconds of the track and fell in love with how melancholy, sad, and mellow the track sounded. I think what makes ‘Wind Flower’ even more charming is the fact that it’s not your typical title track and doesn’t even sound like a track that a group would promote; it sounds like more of a b-side track than anything. However, I like that Mamamoo showed us something different with ‘Wind Flower.’ I also have a liking for songs with acoustic instruments and touches. For me, ‘Wind Flower’ sort of falls into the same realm as other tracks that also utilizes the acoustic touch like Ladies Code ‘Hate You‘, GLAM’s ‘In Front of the Mirror’, FIESTAR’s ‘You’re Pitiful’, and D-UNIT’s ‘Thank You.’ ‘Wind Flower’ isn’t loud, explosive, and in your face, and even sounds a bit trot-like, but maybe that’s why it’s so charming. It’s rather slower than usual pop songs and remains simple, emotional, and gloomy. It’s the perfect song to listen to in this weather.
Hoody – Sunshine
I can always count on Hoody for good music. As the only female artist in AOMG and one of the more well-known female soloists in Khip-hop, it’s such a shame that Hoody isn’t more popular. She literally has the voice of an angel and consistently puts out great releases even if they might not all be my favorite. Last year, her stand-out releases to me were ‘Hangang‘ and ‘Can’t Wait.‘ This year, the stand-out track was ‘Sunshine’ which she just recently released in October. And just like she did with ‘Hangang,’ Hoody collaborated with Cha Cha Malone for ‘Sunshine’ (which doesn’t come as a surprise as I genuinely enjoy all of the songs he produces for his AOMG family). While Crush’s verse didn’t discourage me from liking the song, I actually would have also preferred it if he wasn’t in the song. ‘Sunshine’ would have already made for an amazing song without Crush’s featuring so I wonder what the song would have sounded like if he wasn’t in it. Regardless, ‘Sunshine’ is a great R&B song to listen to and it’s definitely not just a song to listen to when the sun is out. ‘Sunshine’ is a great track to listen to on any day and time and during any season. Thanks to Hoody’s smooth and angelic vocals and Cha Cha’s talented production skills (as well as the funny music video), ‘Sunshine’ remains magical, bright, fun, and cute.
Flowsik ft. Jessi – All I Need
I didn’t know how much I needed this song until I listened to it and then couldn’t stop. Khip-hop rapper Flowsik returned earlier this year with some new music featuring female soloist Jessi for both of his promotional tracks ‘Wet‘ and ‘All I Need.’ It was interesting and fun to see just how different the two songs were from each other and how much they contrasted from the other. While ‘Wet’ was definitely a lot more intense and hip-hop based with plenty of sexual references, ‘All I Need’ was a lot lighter, brighter, and cuter. I actually liked that Flowsik and Jessi gave you a little bit of both. If you’re one who enjoys hip-hop, ‘Wet’ is definitely that track for you. However, if you were in need of a good, cheerful, and bright song to listen to, ‘All I Need’ was there to give you that support. I personally enjoyed both tracks and I think Jessi and Flowsik work great together as artists, but I found myself listening to ‘All I Need’ a lot more. ‘Wet’ fell a little flat to me after the first chorus ended and never really picked up like I was expecting and hoping so I ended up listening to ‘All I Need’ more because it was a much funner and cheerful song. Granted, the two songs are very different from each other and I think ‘Wet’ is a little bit more popular, but ‘All I Need’ suits my tastes and preferences more. The song is simply just so feel-good and emits lots of positivity and fun. Jessi’s soulful vocals combined with Flowsik’s smooth rapping illuminates the track to be even more beautiful and enjoyable and the song overall was so fun to listen to. Since ‘All I Need’ was released back in March, it was perfect for the spring weather and still is perfect for the cold winter. Here’s to hoping that Flowsik and Jessi will continue to resume with impressive collaborations like ‘Wet’ and ‘All I Need’ in the future if they choose to do so (in which I hope they do).
And that’s it in terms of my ‘Honorable Mentions’ list! Make sure to look out for the next two parts to this series where I’ll be discussing my top 10 favorite K-Pop songs of the year as well as my top favorite albums of 2018. And of course, I’ll also write another series where I discuss my top 3 favorite Korean dramas of 2018 (considering I didn’t watch that many this year to begin with) as well as the most disappointing dramas of the year that didn’t come close to making it onto my list.