As part of my 2018 mid-year retrospective, it’s time to look at those songs that either rose or fell as the months have passed. Some songs are slow-burners. Others impress in the moment but fizzle out quickly. And sometimes, a song surpasses expectations to become a cultural phenomenon.
This year has actually seen more risers than fallers, which is definitely a positive thing. Either that, or I’ve just been much harsher in my reviews as time has gone on!
(G)I-DLE – Latata (review)
Over the past year or two, I’ve become increasingly biased against anything that embraces K-pop’s tired tropical trend. Latata’s cut-and-paste nature caused me to underestimate its long-term appeal.
GFriend – Time For The Moon Night (review)
GFriend singles always seem to grow on me, and Moon Night has been one of the year’s biggest slow burns. Once I thought of it less as a typical pop song and more like a symphonic movement, I was able to fully appreciate its unusual structure.
Golden Child – It’s U (review)
When it was first announced that Golden Child would be working with Sweetune, it instantly set my expectations sky high. Maybe that’s why I was critical back in January. I can’t imagine not loving every single moment of this song.
iKON – Love Scenario (review)
Love Scenario’s mid-tempo hip-hop is not the style I usually go for, but it won me over through sheer ubiquity. Massive commercial success can do that!
Momoland – Bboom Bboom (review)
I could say the same thing about Bboom Bboom, even though its ultra pop sound is much more aligned to my usual taste. This has blossomed into one of the year’s most emblematic tracks. Even that post-chorus trap breakdown eventually clicked.
NCT U – Boss (review)
Of all the NCT singles released this year, Boss has had the most staying power. I liked it from the start, but have grown to appreciate its little quirks even more through repeated listens.
Nu’est W – Dejavu (review)
I may have only reviewed this a few days ago, but it’s already grown leaps and bounds since that time. Moodier songs usually take longer to click with me, and I have a feeling I’ll be playing this a lot throughout the summer.
Pentagon – Shine (review)
Though I only rated this in the low 8’s at the beginning of April, it ended up as one of my top three songs of that month. I think I was initially put off by its similarity to Love Scenario, but it’s a stronger song with one of the year’s best choruses.
Rainz – Turn It Up (review)
I think I found this a bit messy upon its release in January, but I quickly remembered that some of my all-time favorite K-pop songs draw their strength from unusual structures. The sheer dancefloor energy of this song has bolstered its staying power.
Stray Kids – District 9 (review)
I loved this when I first heard it, but I’d bump that rating up even higher now. That guitar-fueled chorus has stood the test of time, remaining just as thrilling now as it was back in March.
fromis_9 – To Heart (review)
Sometimes my love of a producer throws objectivity right out the window. To Heart is still a fine Iggy/Youngbae track, but I haven’t returned to it nearly as much as I thought I would.
HyunA – Lip & Hip (review)
A place as one of my top three songs of December doesn’t usually mean much, since that month is so sparsely populated with new releases. Back then, I was thrilled to hear a winter comeback that wasn’t a ballad. I’m not sure I’ve played it at all this year.
Produce 48 – Pick Me (review)
Both Produce 101 themes have grown on me as the series has gone on, but this year’s is taking the opposite trajectory. It’s not bad, but the shtick is beginning to wear thin.
Samuel – One (ft. Jung Ilhoon) (review)
I was a big fan of Samuel’s 2017 releases, and that goodwill carried over to One. However, the song has had almost no staying power on my playlist.
Seventeen – Thanks (review)
What?? A Seventeen release on the “fallers” list? Thanks is still a great track, but I’ve returned to it fewer times than any other Seventeen single. I find it easier to appreciate than to fully enjoy, if that makes sense.
Teen Top – Seoul Night (review)
Seoul Night has almost all the ingredients I look for in a dynamite K-pop track, yet was overshadowed by stronger releases in its wake.
What about you? Any 2018 tracks surprise you after you got to know them a bit more closely?