As we move into July, we’re entering K-Pop’s third quarter of releases for the year. As always, it’s a good time to take stock of what 2018 has offered so far.
Back in early spring, I remember feeling pretty pessimistic about this year’s singles, but I’ve actually been able to compile a strong mid-year list. Interestingly, not a single song comes from artists that made up last year’s countdown. It feels like we’re truly in a transitional year, with highlights often coming from the most unexpected of places.
I decided to forgo honorable mentions this time and simply list my top eight songs in alphabetical order — though there are certainly many other worthy releases that will find their way into my top 50 countdown at the end of the year.
Stay tuned for my annual mid-year albums list and the always fun “biggest risers and fallers” feature — both coming soon! And be sure to sound off in the comments. What were your favorite singles during the first half of 2018?
(in alphabetical order)
Golden Child – It’s U / Lady
A one-two punch of of high quality Sweetune-produced tracks with vastly different tones. It’s U‘s sugary synthpop quickly blossomed into my most-played song of the year, while Lady impresses with its sweeping melody and emotive atmosphere. (It’s U review / Lady review)
Lovelyz – That Day
Another beautifully layered Sweetune track, That Day channels Lovelyz’ innocent image to craft the breeziest rush of girl group pop 2018 has given us yet. (full review)
NCT U – Baby Don’t Stop
NCT’s had a number of great singles this year, but Baby Don’t Stop remains the most potent thanks to its ever-evolving percussive frame and the compelling interplay between members Ten and Taeyong. (full review)
ONF – Complete
A showstopper of a comeback, Complete collects all the potential from ONF’s debut album and funnels it into a high-octane dance track with one killer hook after another. (full review)
SHINee – Good Evening
The 2018 comeback SHINee deserved, Good Evening is their strongest title track in years. With a nod to View‘s deep house instrumental, the song expands its uptempo appeal with a hint of melancholy etched just beneath the surface. (full review)
Stray Kids – District 9
The year’s most exciting debut, District 9 fuses the energy of early BTS material to the sucker-punch bombast of its rock guitar fueled chorus. (full review)
Sunmi – Heroine
Following last year’s incredibly popular Gashina, Heroine sparks with megawatt star power, culminating in the rare instrumental-drop-as-chorus that actually works. (full review)