The end of the year countdowns are finally here! As always, things kick off with the big one… The Bias List’s top 50 songs of the year! Each day this week, I’ll be counting down ten of the year’s best, until number one is revealed on Friday.
To be eligible for this top 50 list, songs must have had a Korean release as a title or promotional track between Dec. 1st, 2017 and Nov. 30th, 2018.
Make sure to check out the rest of the countdown first!
Day One: 50-41
Day Two: 40-31
Curious about last year’s countdown? Check out the masterpost here!
30. SHINee – I Want You
In a year where tropical pop wore out its welcome, SHINee proved that they could resuscitate even the most stale of sounds. I Want You‘s trendy bounce benefits from the group’s layered vocals, quickly transforming into a summer anthem. (full review)
29. Astro – Always You
Transitioning to a darker sound, Astro harnessed a familiar EDM ballad structure but twisted it just enough to fit within their melodic pop discography. I was a skeptic at first, but the track boasted unexpected staying power. (full review)
28. Soya – Artist
After a series of tropical-tinged singles, Soya blew things wide-open with the anthemic disco of Artist. If you’re not sold by the sky-high, propulsive chorus, that unabashedly over-the-top guitar solo will get you. (full review)
27. Halo – O.M.G.
Many of 2018’s best title tracks came from groups who could barely afford a big, glossy music video. Such was the case with O.M.G., which is every bit as funky and assured as a world-conquering single by Seventeen or EXO. (full review)
26. GFriend – Time For The Moon Night
Moon Night marked the first time GFriend strayed from longtime collaborators Iggy & Youngbae on a title track, and thus required a learning curve of sorts. But, its gentle symphonic arrangement proved to stand the test of time, swelling with an understated beauty. (full review)
25. Momoland – BAAM
Though BBoom BBoom was the track to put Momoland on the map, BAAM was the rare retread that improved on its predecessor. The dance beat is louder, the chorus more exuberant, and the energy more hopelessly infectious. (full review)
24. Seventeen – Oh My!
After a 2017 that saw them move from melancholic to powerful, Seventeen split the difference with the laid-back funk of Oh My! It was a sleeper summer hit, unveiling its charms more convincingly each time it played. (full review)
23. BTS – Fake Love
If there was any doubt of BTS’s international appeal going into the year, Fake Love‘s unprecedented success proved they were ready to conquer the world. Its rock influences and serpentine hook recalled their very best material, while its striking moodiness felt perfectly attuned to today’s trends. (full review)
22. Sungkyu – True Love
Infinite’s leader had one last gift for fans before his mandatory military enlistment, and it came in the form of a straightforward, indie rock power ballad that acted as a killer spotlight for his inimitable voice. (full review)
21. Nu’est W – Dejavu
Dejavu took 2018’s groovy, inverted chorus trend and coupled it with some of the summer’s most sly hooks. Bookended by more powerful singles, its restraint paid off and resulted in the year’s biggest slow-burn earworm. (full review)
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Lots of growers this year, I see! It’s interesting to see how your final list lines up with what I predicted would grow on you.
Definitely lots of growers this year. I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing!
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wow I thought I was the only one that preferred Baam to Bboom Bboom!
Though I understand your Sunggyu bias (I love him also)
I can’t help but feel his solo comeback this year was generic and disappointing.
I much preferred Kontrol or The Answer’s style…there just wasn’t enough to hook me in production wise.
Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2018 (Day Four: 20-11) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion
I’m glad someone else realizes that BAAM is the superior Momoland 2018 title track!
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–more detailed spam for your comments–
30. Chuu – Heart Attack: I was heavily put off by the blues-scale uh-HUH Ailee-style melody of the first verse – this is seriously not my thing – and so I refused to like this song for a few months. Then I listened past the kind of boring bits and I got to an extremely lit chorus with great descending harmony in the second half. I remember you having the opposite sentiment, but I have to disagree! In particular the chorus-bridge-last chorus sequence is just as effective as the one from Target’s “Awake” (and really any other iconic kpop bridge). Also the music video is cool; that doesn’t give it any points in my book but it’s worth mentioning anyways.
29. Twice – Dance The Night Away: Another one that I really just didn’t like at all at first, DtNA eventually won me over with its sheer Twice-ness. Twice have absolutely no chill, which is great. DtNA is just so eminently happy, that it makes me happy too. Happy enough to buy a “Summer Nights” album and happily think about how cute Dahyun is – see this is why Twice is successful. It’s pure addictive energy, and I don’t even care. It’s like: “you know what? I WILL Dance the Night Away. I HATE dancing, but I LOVE Twice, and Twice are FUN. FUck it”
28. Aseul – Sandcastles: This is the first “SIKE bet you didn’t expect that” entry I’ve got here (there’s more coming, just wait). I’ve been an Aseul fan since just after she released “New Pop” and duly blew me directly out of the water. Everything Aseul touches is gold, including “Sandcastles,” which has an effortless energy in a way that is diametrically-opposed to most of kpop’s chill (read:boring) songs. “Sandcastles” has a really droney vocal line in the chorus, relying on the really quite gorgeous instrumental work (notice a theme on this list yet?) to get the job done, and I love it. Also check out that heavily melancholy tone shift in the bridge after the choruses – this is how to change to a moody tone with subtlety, boy group producers kindly take note.
27. CLC – Distance: A supremely cruisy ballad echoing the best of Korea’s early 2000s coffeeshop electronica phase, Distance might be something I’ve heard before – but it’s also something I want to hear again. Originals like Casker’s songs or Rollercoaster’s classics “습관” and “Love Virus” never got the benefit of modern kpop production – actually “Love Virus” got remade by a band called Life and Time and it came out great – but regardless, my point is that this sound rewritten like a T-ara ballad from 2011 works, and it works incredibly well.
26. Weki Meki – Crush: Despite suffering from slight cheerleader melody syndrome (I made this up, but think Jennie’s opening in AIIYL) in the verses, the moment the guitar kicks in in the prechorus you know the rest is going to be great. From an extremely catchy recurring opening synth line, to that earworm of a second-half chorus melody Weki Meki is straight pop energy all the way through. You literally can’t say no to this.
25. ONF – Complete: I know, so far down on my list! Forive me TT I never got into this one to the point of it making my top 10, but it’s still supremely cool, and one of the best songs this year. I had lots of complaints about verses this year, but not with ONF!
This song is an anthem from start to finish, and that’s something that we all desperately needed in kpop. ONF better keep this unflagging energy up in 2019 – because it sure served them well on “Complete.”
24. Oohyo – Papercut: SIKE again. Actually, you might have heard of Oohyo; “Pizza” last year somehow got some attention, which was shocking and made me super happy. I’ve been basking in the greatness of Oohyo since 2016, when I did some serious digging into the kpop electronica community (check it out, they have some great artists that create electropop left-of-field of kpop’s usual). “Papercut” is full of like jazzy extended and 7th chords and stuff that I generally don’t like, but the vibe is so absolutely cool and assured, the textures so retro-surreal that you can’t help but love it anyways. Not that I particularly care, but the lyrics are great as well. 100% JYHB-approved content.
23. Holland – I’m So Afraid: “I’m Not Afraid” was pretty good, but “I’m So Afraid” was even better. You think it’s going to be a dull-ish ballad (like Neverland, sorry @Neverland) but then the super-heavy synths hit, and you realize “oh my God, Holland just made the most intense idol song of 2019, wow.” “I’m So Afraid” not only drips with sincerity, but is just absolutely great music regardless. K-pop doesn’t do this kind of thing too often, but Holland proves that it should.
22. EXID – I Love You: It might be “Up & Down” part 27: “Down & Up” but that doesn’t make it any less good. “I Love You” smartly relies on that vocal sample to lodge itself directly in the listener’s head, and then proceeds to have some wack-o textures and the best EXID chorus around. It also smartly keeps things to two choruses, meaning things stay fun instead of descending into please-kill-me-from-repetition territory. Also Junghwa
21. Aseul – Always With You: SIKE she’s back (and not for the last time mind you). Aseul is so good, seriously. “Always With You” brings in some more dissonant sounds and ’80s-ness to great effect. Along with insistent hi-hats and a vocal melody that’s darker and more present than most of Aseul’s work, the song transforms into something almost otherworldly. This is IT, folks
Loving to see some artists on your list that I’m unfamiliar with. I’ll have to check some of them out this weekend.
I’ll forgive you for ONF, but not for Genie! 😉 Haha just kidding. At least you had one spot to spare for my dear Golcha.