The end of the year on The Bias List always feels like the K-pop Olympics. I spend 365 days writing about every major (and most minor) releases, and it all culminates in a weeks-long celebration of great music.
Yes, there was great music in 2022. We also had to wade through a boatload of not-so-great music to find the good stuff, and the ratio of these highs and lows wasn’t quite where I’d like to be. But over the next few weeks, I’ll be counting down the diamonds in the rough… the pearls amongst swine. You get it.
Compared to past years, 2022 was often a frustrating one for me. It reminded me a little of 2020 in the fact that it had vast stretches of time without many highlights. But, the year saw some fantastic debuts and girl groups made a huge resurgence in popularity. We’re witnessing the arrival of a new vanguard and I’m excited for the shift in sound they seem to be ushering in. These rookie artists were a highlight of an otherwise underwhelming year.
2022 was more of a mixed bag for boy groups. I can’t remember another period where boy group releases felt so cookie cutter, slavishly following the same template over and over. I’m a big fan of boy group music, so my countdown will have plenty of it. But, almost all of these favorites pushed against the year’s trends rather than embrace them.
It was a bit harder to cobble together my list this year. As usual, it feels somewhat top-heavy. There weren’t as many 10-out-of-10 legendary songs in 2022, but I’m pleased with my top ten. The most surprising thing about this year’s list is which acts didn’t make the cut. Many big-name artists who have placed toward the top of my countdown in the past are nowhere to be found in 2022. I think it was a weak year for K-pop’s a-list – at least when it comes to quality of music.
As the industry began to claw itself out of the pandemic, tours and live shows resumed. Fan chants were back at full force. Everyone seemed to be travelling and meeting their fans, including newer acts who had never had a chance to perform in front of a live audience before. I was able to attend a few concerts myself, and these are among my best K-pop memories of the year.
For those who like statistics, The Bias List published a total of 702 posts this year, which is slightly down from the 762 from 2021. That’s still over two a day on average! Those posts add up to over 246,000 words, which is like… three novels. In 2022, you all commented over 12,500 times and I’m 95% sure I’ve read all of them. Thank you again for interacting with my posts. It’s one of things that makes this blog worth writing!
Now, for the nitty gritty specifics for countdown eligibility. Nothing has changed since last year, so this is largely cut-and-paste.
For tomorrow’s main countdown, the eligibility rules remain the same:
- A song must have been released as a title, follow-up or promoted track between December 1, 2021 and November 30, 2022.
- A song must be paired with a full music video or big-budget performance video (the lines get more blurred each year).
- English-language singles are eligible. Japanese singles by K-pop artists will be part of the J-pop countdown.
It’s always funny to highlight “bias” in the context of a blog called “The Bias List,” but I want readers to know that this list is very much my own. It’s not cobbled together by committee or trying to be objective or cater to every taste. I’m sure some of you will agree with the bulk of my choices and others will wonder what the hell I’m thinking. Either way, I hope you discover (or re-discover) a song or two that click with you.
I’ll see you tomorrow for the kickoff of 2022’s Top 50 list, which opens the floodgates for several weeks of countdowns here on The Bias List! Before that, here are the ten songs that narrowly missed this year’s Top 50.
60. BIGBANG – Still Life (review)
59. The Rose – Childhood (review)
58. Kim Junsu – Hana (review)
57. TAN – Du Du Du (review)
56. Kara – When I Move (review)
55. Key – Gasoline (review)
54. Chungha – Sparkling (review)
53. DKZ – Cupid (review)
52. STAYC – RUN2U (review)
51. TO1 – Freeze Tag (review)