2018 is the year I re-discovered K-Pop and fully allowed it to take over my life. I read a Billboard list of the best K-Pop released of 2017 and have practically only listened to K-Pop ever since. I used to listen to a few Wonder Girls songs in my teens and one or two 2NE1 tracks after watching Adore Delano’s lip syncs to them. But since embracing the genre I’ve followed my favourite girl groups’ and soloists’ releases and enjoyed a number of debuts from new groups. So, here is my top 10 list of K-pop releases of the year so far in no particular order.
BLACKPINK – Ddu-Du Ddu-Du
It’s safe to say that BLACKPINK are my favourite girl group. I fell in love with As If It’s Your Last and binged all of their MVs when I found them at the start of the year.
I watched all of BLACKPINK House and fell in love with the girls. My favourite member (or bias, to use K-Pop terminology) changes each day, but right now Rose has my heart.
I eagerly waited for their comeback earlier this year and couldn’t have asked for a better song than Ddu-Du Ddu-Du. The MV is incredible. I have watched it countless times and listened to the song even more. It shows the girls’ individuality and the dance break at the end gets me every time.
The levels of sass I feel when I listen to Ddu-Du Ddu-Du are ridiculous, so I had to have this in my top 10.
Pristin V – Get It
Pristin‘s Wee Woo was the first K-Pop song I became obsessed with when I first started listening this year. I started researching them and found out Kyla was on hiatus from the group, which meant they wouldn’t be bringing out new music. But in K-Pop, the groups often split off into smaller sub-units.
That’s where Pristin V come in, made up of Kyulkyung, Nayoung, Eunwoo, Rena and Roa. When I found out Pristin V would be making a debut my heart couldn’t take it. I was a big fan of Kyulkyung and Nayoung especially, which had led me to listening to IOI.
Get It is similar to Pristin’s Black Widow, in the sense that it’s darker than Wee Woo’s bubblegum sound. It’s a more mature sound and I had it on repeat when it was released.
Momoland – Bboom Bboom
I’m a late adopter of Momoland, initially brushing them off. But after Baam got stuck in my head this summer, I re-listened to Bboom Bboom. Now it’s probably my favourite song of the year.
It’s ridiculously catchy and the dance in the chorus is easy to pick up. The live performances are also must watches, thanks to JooE’s “GREEEAT!” sections. There’s even a compilation of them which I’ve watched over and over.
I just discovered that Bboom Bboom was released on my birthday, which probably explains why I love it so much…
GWSN – Puzzle Moon
I try and listen to new releases as soon as I find out about them, and in the case of rookie girl group GWSN, I’ve not stopped listening to their debut Puzzle Moon.
If the chorus doesn’t make you want to dance, I’ll assume you live a life full of greyness and silence.
Anne (the one with the red hair) is my star of the group with her singing, dancing and rap skills. But I’m so intrigued by Miya (short grey hair). I can’t wait to see what the girls come out with next.
YOLOWA from their mini-album is also great and has a fun dance routine.
Hyolyn – See Sea
Everything Hyolyn has released this year could’ve made it to my top 10, but See Sea was one of my songs of the summer. The MV is gorgeous and I love the airy sounds of her voice. But she’s got strength there too, as heard in the live performances of the song.
What I love about Hyloyn is that her backing dancers are diverse, which isn’t often seen in K-Pop.
Hyolyn is different in that she seems like she’s for a more mature audience. Her dance routines and costumes are sexier – I mean, hello, Dally. And it’s probably come through growing up as a K-Pop idol and being a part of Sistar.
Her Instagram is also everything.
Chung Ha – Love U
I found out about Chung Ha after reading up about Pristin. She was also part of IOI but debuted as a soloist afterwards.
after reading up about Pristin. She was also part of IOI but debuted as a soloist afterwards.
Love U was another of my favourite songs this summer for obvious reasons. The video is stunning. She’s stunning. The song is stunning.
Her dance routines are also fun in that they incorporate sections with both male and female backing dancers.
Blooming Blue, the mini-album from which Love U is taken, is also perfect to listen to on a warm day, with cocktail and nothing to worry about except having a good time.
LOONA – Hi High
I missed most of the hype surrounding Loona before their debut this year, but I’m so on board with it now. Loona released loads of music before they debuted as a full 12-member group, each of them coming out with solo songs as well as forming three sub-units.
Hi High is what I think of as classic K-Pop. It’s fun, futuristic sounding and dance routine is energetic. It’s one of my favourite songs to listen to in the gym too.
Now that they’ve debuted properly, I have a feeling that 2019 will be Loona’s year. I already can’t wait for their next comeback.
Girls’ Generation-Oh!GG – Lil’ Touch
Girls’ Generation have been around for years but I’d only really listened to one of their songs, All Night, before their sub-unit debut.
They returned as a five-piece in September with Lil’ Touch and I was hooked after my first listen.
Like Hyolyn, they have a more mature sound. The girls are older than most of the other singers mentioned in this list, with the five in Oh!GG being 28 or 29. I’m in no way a Girls’ Generation stan, I couldn’t name any of their other songs. But if Oh!GG keep bring out bangers like Lil’ Touch that might change.
BTS – Idol (ft. Nicki Minaj)
BTS are taking the world by storm and I was so excited when I found out Nicki Minaj had done a feature with them. Idol is different from their other songs I listen to, DNA being my favourite, but it sounds modern and I’m surprised I’ve not heard it played in any clubs yet.
The MV is ridiculously colourful and Nicki’s section fits perfectly. The BTS boys are some of the best dancers in K-Pop in my opinion. I don’t know how anyone can move their legs that fast.
I would’ve listened to the version without Nicki if the one with her didn’t exist, but it’s her feature that got the song a place in my top 10.
Dua Lipa & BLACKPINK – Kiss and Make Up
I wasn’t sure whether or not to include this certified banger as it isn’t a single (yet) and doesn’t have a MV (yet). I hope Dua Lipa hears the demand and everyone’s schedules allow that to change. But I’ve listened to it literally on repeat since it was released last week and don’t see that changing any time soon, so it had to be on the list.
Dua Lipa didn’t just give the girls a feature, she gave them half of the song. The five voices work so well together but Rose’s is heavenly. I love the marriage of English and Korean lyrics, with Jisoo only singing in Korean, while Jennie, Lisa and Rose sing some English.
The song has broken into Spotify UK’s Top 50 and I really hope it brings BLACKPINK onto more people’s radars over here. Only because I’m scared I’ll never get to see live otherwise.