Having listed some ‘Honorable Mentions’ that almost made it onto this list of the Top 10 K-Pop songs of 2018 as well a review on my top albums of 2018, I will be concluding the series with the actual and final list of my favorite Top 10 Songs of 2018. It was a hard one and there were actually a few choices that made it onto the list that I was a little doubtful about, but this is ultimately my final decision.
So with that, relax and enjoy my personal Top 10 Favorite K-Pop Songs of 2018!
Top 10 K-Pop Songs of 2018
Bad Boy – Red Velvet
‘Bad Boy’ by Red Velvet will forever go down as one of the best releases from the girl group itself as well as in K-Pop of this year (and overall really). The R&B track was simple, effortless, and easy to listen to and was able to utilize each member’s strengths while covering their weaknesses. The choreography was also fitting to the song and the music video itself was visually pleasing, aesthetic, and beautiful. Everything about this era from the title track itself to the repackaged album (which remains as my favorite album from Red Velvet to this date and what I personally believe is one of their strongest albums yet) to the music video to the choreography to the styling, ‘Bad Boy’ was phenomenal and amazing all around. It was the perfect follow-up to the already strong and impressive ‘Peek-A-Boo’ and was a great way to start the year. It’s just unfortunate that Red Velvet’s latter releases after ‘Bad Boy’ failed to impress me as much as the former, but I’ll always hold onto the hope that the girl group will one day deliver another ‘Bad Boy.’ Until then, I’ll keep listening to this song on repeat.
NCT U – Baby Don’t Stop
2018 has been an interesting year for NCT who promoted all throughout the year as both a full 18-member unit in February and then in their respective units – Dream and 127 – later on in the year. Both sub-units reached new levels of success with their comebacks while the 18-member era in February was a first for the boy group. I have to admit that I’ve never really cared or followed NCT until just really this year when I checked out their ‘Black on Black’ comeback in February. Since it was the first time the boy group was promoting all together, I wanted to check things out and see how SM would promote a group of 18 members. As I expected, things didn’t go so well and there were quite a few disappointments with the comeback including ‘Black on Black’ the title track itself. However, there were also other tracks like ‘Boss’ and ‘Baby Don’t Stop’ to make up for the lack of impact that ‘Black on Black’ had on me. This could also be why I prefer NCT U over the other sub-units: though it’s never certain which member will be promoting in which NCT U sub-unit (as the sub-unit isn’t fixed), each NCT U unit brings something new to the table every time. The selected members are able to utilize their skills and talents and have the opportunity to showcase them in NCT U because the amount of members are interchangeable. Maybe it’s because it was only Ten and Taeyong in ‘Baby Don’t Stop’ that the song worked well. From the song itself to the choreography to the performance, ‘Baby Don’t Stop’ was flawless. It was nice to finally just see two members in a sub-unit when we’re often so used to seeing 4+ members in a group. ‘Baby Don’t Stop’ was a great way to start the year, hopefully SM will put out more music similar to it and better promote the members like how they did with Ten and Taeyong.
Babylon – Sincerity
I had written about Babylon’s most recent album ‘CAELO’ and how good every single song was. Of course, there were a few tracks on the album that stood out to me more than others including title track ‘Karma’ and ‘Sincerity.’ Although every track was enjoyable and strong on its own, it was really ‘Sincerity’ that ultimately won me over. Babylon has a sweet smooth voice, but his collaboration with Sophiya worked really well in this upbeat R&B song. There’s nothing really much to say about it other than that it’s a good track every time I listen to it and that it’s undeniably the strongest song on the album for me. I’ve already listened to this track many times and will continue to listen to it many more times.
(G)I-DLE – Latata
‘Latata’ originally wasn’t on my list of top 10 (and I had actually forgotten about the girl group at first until I was reviewing releases from this year). However, after finally remembering about ‘Latata’, I then realized that I wanted to include the song in my list. Some people might prefer their second title track ‘Hann’ over ‘Latata’, but I definitely liked (G)I-DLE’s debut track a lot more. Regardless, I included ‘Latata’ in this song not only because I liked the song itself but because (G)I-DLE’s debut was impactful and huge. Among the sea of debuting idol groups and already existent groups, it can be quite hard to stand out or to get people to notice you. However, (G)I-DLE was able to make their mark in the K-Pop industry despite having minimal pre-debut content (I honestly only remember watching their busking performance where they covered ‘Mic Drop’ and honestly not feeling so confident about them). The rookie monster group blew everyone’s minds away with their powerful and confident debut (which some have labeled as a ‘girl crush’ kind of concept) and followed it up with ‘Hann.’ Though their debut album might not have been as impressive for me, ‘Latata’ was and it’s a song that will always bring back mind-blowing memories of the girl group for me. No one really had any expectations for (G)I-DLE and especially coming from a company like CUBE, but they shocked everyone with their powerful performance and stage presence. (G)I-DLE is a group that blends well with one another and is solid as a group, but they also each stand out enough on their own which could be a potential reason for their success. (G)I-DLE has already done enough to stand out and to deliver. Let’s hope CUBE can continue to catch up with the girls and help them propel to even bigger stardom.
DJ Wegun (ft. sogumm & 펀치넬로 punchnello) – 서툴러
I immediately fell in love with this song when I first heard it and I’m not surprised that it’s from DJ Wegun who’s from AOMG. I feel like AOMG artists generally deliver with their music (most of the times) so it didn’t come as a surprise that one of their DJ’s produced some great music for his album. I still recall the first time I listened to the song and falling in love with how husky and unique sogumm’s voice was and then loving Punchnello’s mellow, meek, and soft rapping. This is the first time I’ve listened to really anything from DJ Wegun or sogumm, but Punchnello has been a rapper who I’ve been following since I first discovered him in last year’s SMTM6. Sogumm and Punchnello’s skills and talents come so naturally in this song and their respective parts seem so effortless. Maybe this is why this song is so powerful. There’s not a lot going on; it’s chill, mellow, and laid-back while Sogumm and Punchnello carry the song with their mere talents and abilities. Though DJ Wegun’s album was solid with some notable tracks, ‘서툴러’ remains far superior.
BTS (Jimin) – Serendipity (Full-length Edition)
This was originally on my list of top 10 and then I remembered that ‘Serendipity’ was originally released last year in 2017 in BTS’s ‘Love Yourself: HER.’ However, the full-length version of the track was released in this year’s ‘Love Yourself: Answer’ so I felt like it was okay to include it on the list. Lol. It was a hard pick between ‘Anpanman’ and ‘Serendipity’ as these two tracks are the ones I enjoyed the most this year from BTS. However, I eventually chose ‘Serendipity’ because I love how simple, how beautiful, how easy, and how effortless it sounded. It was already a constant repeat when it first came out in 2017, but I haven’t gotten tired of it even though the full length was released this year. After listening to the song many times, I’ve come to the conclusion that “Serendipity” is actually a pretty hard song to sing. Each segment of the song sounds different from one another, but comes together smoothly and effortlessly when added to form one beautiful track. The music video for “Serendipity” was beautiful as well and I’m glad I got to witness Jimin perform this live at the “Love Yourself” concert earlier in September. Jimin was able to finally use his vocals in a less demanding and straining way in “Serendipity” and it did wonders. Though it’s unclear if BTS will continue with the vocal intro’s they practiced in their “Love Yourself” era, it’ll be interesting to see them do this once again with their next comeback.
Pentagon – Shine
This one was unexpected, but it was definitely appreciated. Pentagon stood out this year when they came back with “Shine.” Since the group was relatively unknown since their debut in 2016 despite having a run of promotions, ‘Shine’ was the perfect comeback for the boy group to finally get not only their name but music known as well. I myself have definitely heard of Pentagon since their debut, but could never get myself into their music despite a few attempts with each comeback. However, ‘Shine’ changed things for me and I found myself in love with both the title track and the album ‘Positive.’ ‘Shine’ is a simple song carried by a piano instrumental and though this is pretty much all that the tune contains, it remains enjoyable and fun to listen to. Even the choreography which included viral dances was fun and fitting of ‘Shine’ which was a song about a person’s tragic and childish unrequited love for their crush. ‘Shine’ was pretty impactful when it came out and the boy group tried to recreate the same success, hype, and momentum with their last comeback ‘Naughty Boy.’ However, ‘Naughty Boy’ just couldn’t quite hit it like ‘Shine’ did and all the scandals surrounding HyunA and E’Dawn’s relationship at the time hurt the boy group. Though the couple has separated with CUBE, it’s unfortunate that Pentagon has moved on without E’dawn. E’Dawn played a huge part in the success of ‘Shine’ and stands out in the group so it was odd to not see him present in ‘Naughty Boy.’ Though he was inarguably a significant member of the boy group, maybe there might still be chances for Pentagon to deliver another ‘Shine.’
SHINee – Good Evening
2018 was a bittersweet year for SHINee who made their first comeback without Jonghyun and celebrated their 10th anniversary since their debut back in 2008. SHINee has always made very refreshing, charming, and unique type of concepts; they’ve always been ahead of times and delivered with concepts and music that doesn’t arrive in K-Pop until a little later. Specializing in electronic music, it’s amazing how different, sophisticated, and sentimental SHINee performs with each comeback. ‘Good Evening’ marked a different beginning for the boy group who had to work without their main vocalist and crucial member Jonghyun, but as heart-breaking as it was to see them as four, it was also relieving to see SHINee back doing what they love and do best. Of course, it was also nice to witness them continue their legacy with new music this year with my personal favorite being ‘Good Evening.’ Remnants of Jonghyun are evident throughout the title track and it serves as a good reminder that Jonghyun will always be with SHINee and fans forever. And just like with SHINee’s other comebacks, ‘Good Evening’ was beautiful and pleasing from the music video to the choreography to the performances. SHINee are professional and confident with each passing comeback and they emit the same level of energy in this comeback as they did in the past.
Hyolyn – SEE SEA
Hyolyn’s solo career after the disbandment of SISTAR last year has been interesting for the most part. With each of the members now doing their own thing, Hyolyn pursued a career in music which makes the most sense considering she’s a powerful vocalist and a charismatic performer. This year, she returned with some new music including ‘Dally’ which definitely shook the music industry and then again in the summer with ‘SEE SEA.’ Out of the two, ‘SEE SEA’ was my favorite and it was a little odd at how easy and effortless it was for me to fall in love with the song because of how rare it is for me to do so. I like how the chorus plays twice with the first being a single Hyolyn voice and then the second chorus repeating with another layer of Hyolyn’s voice where both contrast each other. It’s just nice to see Hyolyn finally do the type of music and concepts that she’s always wanted to do or felt was most fitting for her after concluding things with SISTAR.
EXO – Tempo
Of course, I gotta save the best for last. EXO returned from their year-long hiatus earlier in November with ‘Tempo’ which many fans had been anticipating. Prior to ‘Tempo’, I wasn’t the biggest EXO fan and was rather just a casual listener of their albums so I didn’t think too much about their comebacks. However, ‘Tempo’ definitely reignited the love I had for them earlier in their career. I honestly had no expectations for the comeback whatsoever, but was completely impressed and content with the comeback. Though ‘Tempo’ had a lot going on, everything just felt and sounded so nice and aligned with one another. I especially loved the second half of the song with the repetitive ‘don’t mess up my tempo’ and then the acapella bridge. EXO has always been known for their vocals, and they definitely showcased them in this song with all the beautiful and peaceful harmonizing and ad-libbing. I also liked that Sehun got a decent amount of lines in this song as he’s often a hidden member in their promotional tracks so that was a nice change. The album ‘Don’t Mess Up My Tempo’ was also a strong album and my personal favorites would have to be ‘Damage’, ‘Smile On My Face’, and ‘Oasis.’ EXO followed up ‘Tempo’ with a repackaged album with title track ‘Love Shot’ and although that song didn’t impress me as much as ‘Tempo’, I’m just satisfied enough with ‘Tempo.’ An unforgettable comeback by an unforgettable group, EXO was definitely one of the groups that saved 2018.
And this is it for my top 10 K-Pop songs of 2018! Next up is my review on my Top 3 K-dramas of the year as well the most disappointing dramas of 2018. Be on the lookout for that 🙂