2018 was a fantastic year when it came to album tracks. In fact, many of them were stronger (and more interesting) than their title track counterparts.
This makes for a very competitive top 40 list. Check out yesterday’s first part of the countdown, and read on for the top twenty of the year!
+ Make sure to check out the rest of the year-end countdowns here!
20. KEY – IMAGINE
A stuffed-to-the-brim explosion of complextro beats and a confident English-language performance that stood as the surprise standout on Key’s solo album. (full review)
19. STRAY KIDS – SCHOOL LIFE
A giddy guitar-splashed guilty pleasure (if I believed in guilty pleasures) from a group more often known for their hip-hop attitude and brooding lyrics. (full review)
18. GOLDEN CHILD – CRUSH
A riff-driven slab of power pop that leverages Golden Child’s unflagging energy for a fist-pumping guitar crunch of a chorus.
17. NU’EST W – SHADOW
A dynamic blend of deep house and sky-high vocals that saw Nu’est try on Seventeen’s high-octane sound to brilliant effect. (full review)
16. INFINITE – SYNCHRONISE
A soaring surge of vocal-driven, Britpop-infused dance pop, so dedicated to its origins that it used the British spelling for its apt title. (full review)
15. TARGET – TEMPEST
A good old-fashioned jolt of Sweetune-produced synth-pop, criminally relegated to b-side status when it should have been a strong kick-off to Target’s career. (full review)
14. ONF – WHAT IS A LOVE?
A groovy mid-tempo with elements of New Jack Swing and an ultra-smooth, vocal driven chorus that ranks among ONF’s best. (full review)
13. BTS – ANSWER: LOVE MYSELF
A soaring finale to BTS’s Love Yourself series, with anthemic production and a powerful chorus that takes advantage of the group’s lush vocal blend. (full review)
12. MONSTA X – HEART ATTACK
A staccato stab of percussive hip-hop dance that expertly melds Monsta X’s harder edges with sly songcraft and a big, beating pop heart. (full review)
11. EXO – COSMIC RAILWAY
A majestic ballad that feels destined to soundtrack a yet-to-be-created anime series, Cosmic Railway offers a sense of grandeur missing from much of 2018’s K-pop. (full review)
10. GOLDEN CHILD – I’M FALLING
A galvanizing fusion of acoustic guitar and EDM, I’m Falling unveiled new avenues for Golden Child’s pop sound while delivering one of the most exciting bridges of the year. (full review)
9. RAINZ – OPEN UR HEART
An instant-classic union of retro synths and robust melody that expertly skirts the line between ballad and dance track. This is the song I’ll remember Rainz for. (full review)
8. ASTRO – CALL OUT
An anthemic flood of propulsive dance beats and go-for-broke power vocals that allows Astro to mature their pop sound while leaning into the brightness that makes their music so addictive. (full review)
7. INFINITE – PRAY
A long-delayed reunion between Infinite and Sweetune, Pray‘s orchestral production and powerful vocal arrangement proved worth the wait, taking advantage of the group’s varying tones and penchant for theatrical instrumentation. (full review)
6. GFRIEND – FLOWER GARDEN
A reminder that GFriend can still deliver a blisteringly mighty chorus, Flower Garden draws on their potent vocals with its dynamic structure and bursts of electric guitar. (full review)
5. BTS – SO WHAT
An oasis of propulsive dance pop within the group’s otherwise trendy hip-hop offerings, So What stretches BTS in new directions while retaining their unique color. It would have made an absolutely stunning single. (full review)
4. COSMIC GIRLS (WJSN) – I-YAH
A fully-realized encapsulation of Cosmic Girls’ sound at its peak, I-Yah builds from its dramatic verses to climax in a standout chorus that layers the girls’ vocals to riveting effect. It’s their best song yet — title track or not. (full review)
3. EXO – GRAVITY
A hit single if I’ve ever heard one, Gravity was criminally buried on EXO’s newest album. Its funk-pop sound throws back to Lucky One, but deepens the appeal with a gorgeously spacey chorus and climax to die for. (full review)
2. GOLDEN CHILD – EYES ON YOU
A hard-hitting, expertly produced synthesis of aggressive electronics and blistering guitar. The energy recalls Infinite’s The Chaser, but the unique harmonies and constantly shifting arrangement give it a life all its own. This feels like where Golden Child are headed, and that’s a very exciting prospect. (full review)
1. INFINITE – WIND
An encapsulation of everything I love about Infinite’s sound — and pop music in general. From the electrifying guitar riff to the orchestral swell during the pre-chorus, Wind unfolds perfectly and presents an invigorating gust of chugging production and honed melody. It’s not the showiest song in the group’s discography, nor the trendiest. But, it’s probably my favorite track of the year, buoyed by a sense of directness and powerful, vocal-driven pop arrangement. (full review)
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Bit unfortunate that LABOUM’s Love Game didn’t make it into your top 40. That’s probably my favourite (or one of) B-sides of the year.
Glad you got WJSN’s I-Yah and one of ONF’s B-sides.
Infinite appearing 90 times on this list is no surprise – Top Seed sure was album of the year!! I would post my favorite b-sides but that would just be songs Top Seed, I-Yah, and some of this year’s Oh My Girl songs;; the truth is that I don’t have the energy to wade through mostly-kind-of-bad albums in order to find the gems. Your list and Buried Treasure is always a #1 starting place. Other album tracks I like tend to end up with “special videos,” and I sneakily count those towards my favorite titles of the year (which I’ll post in your comments when I get the time to actually put it in order!!)
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