2022 Year-End K-Pop Recap (& Honorable Mentions)

Top 50 K-Pop Songs Of 2022The 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:

  1. A song must have been released as a title, follow-up or promoted track between December 1, 2021 and November 30, 2022.
  2. A song must be paired with a full music video or big-budget performance video (the lines get more blurred each year).
  3. 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.

Honorable Mentions

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)

45 thoughts on “2022 Year-End K-Pop Recap (& Honorable Mentions)

  1. Not in the mood to predict the winner at this point. Anyway, Drummin by TO1 can be like Libido last year, predict it will place in the number 2 or 3. The top 10 mostly may come from winners of August and November.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really love Drummin’! I’ll wager it definitely makes the top 50. Regarding OnlyOneOf, I can’t rave enough about their Underground Idol series; I’m hoping #’s 1, 2, and 4 make the list, those 3 tunes are so high on my own!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d like to shout out here to Younha, whose “Event Horizon” is just crushing it on the kpop charts right now, 8 months after its initial release. PAK last month! In an era where music releases are fast fashion, entrenched tribalism in the fandoms, and so much ageism that a 34 year old is Old, to have this indie artist who wasn’t even promoting the song on music shows anymore have a hit song like this, everyone covering it, it is worth noting.

    For those in the US, it reminds me of the 00’s female singer-songwriters era viz Vanessa Carlton Michelle Branch Sara Bareilles Natasha Bedingfield-style, all talent and heart and soul and live live performing.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I loved this song the second I heard it way back when it came out, but do you know why it’s randomly charting so well? was it in an OST or something? pure luck? Either way am happy she’s getting attention lmao

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think ChungHa’s Sparkling & STAYC’S Run2U would probably make my personal Top 50. ChungHa’s in particular really grew on me, and I’m partial to Black Eyed Pilseung’s sophisticated production for Apink & STAYC.

    I’ve always been curious why b-sides are excluded? I don’t think I could even make a personal Top 50 list without including b-sides, they’ve been among my favorites this year [e.g. Dreamcatcher’s Starlight, Fifty Fifty’s Tell Me, STAYC’s Young Luv, Enhypen’s Polaroid Love, Rocket Punch’s In My World, IVE’s My Satisfaction, (G)I-DLE – MY BAG], and otherwise I’d be hard-pressed to find 50 great tunes…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. based on the images of groups I’m familiar with, Brave Girls, TREASURE, Changmin, NewJeans, WJSN, SNSD, Key, OnlyOneOf, DRIPPIN, iKON, ENHYPEN, and IVE made it!

    hoping it’s ParadoXXX Invasion for ENHYPEN 👀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I predict his #1 will either be a tune by RoaD-B (wouldn’t surprise me if both came in at 1 & 2; I think they come in at my #s 1 & 2), or Golden Child’s Replay.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Aww Kara!! I will say that while the song hasn’t really stuck with you it’s had the opposite effect with me? The live performances and the Kara energy around them has really sold me on the song more and more. Not a major career changing highlight sure but it feels eclectically them and the warm feelings of affection around that vibe has charmed me completely.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It appears that the song in first place on the Bias List’s “Top 50 Recap” has been leaked early.

    Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the number-one k-pop song of 2022:


    Liked by 3 people

  7. Ranking the top 10’s were pretty easy for me this year but everything else is so difficult as it’s more on my mood! I’m not including the ones from last December because comparing them to the fresh ones of this year is hard but my faves from last December and possible ranks if included are :

    TFN Red Lights Green Lights (Top 40′)
    Ateez The Real (Top 15’s)
    Ive Eleven (Top 10’s)
    Everglow Pirate (Top 40’s)
    NCT Beautiful (Top 15’s)

    Now to this year – a whole bunch of stuff probably goes into my honourable mentions really so mentioning a few of them :

    Tan Du Du Du
    SKZ Case 143 (I finally realised I like this more than Maniac lol)
    Nmixx Dice
    Road-B Non-Stop
    BTS Yet to Come
    P1Harmony Dum Du Doom
    Bugaboo Pop
    Kepler Wa Da Da
    Wei Too Bad
    Alice Dance On
    MCND W.A.T.1
    Kara When I Move
    Nature Limbo
    Enhypen Future Perfect
    Tempest Bad News
    Blitzers Hit the Bass Line

    Also would you be reviewing the debut song by boy group Xeed – “Dreamland” ? I thought it was pretty cool! It might make my top 20’s if I included December songs lol but not doing that lol 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ok yall have fun w yalls predictions for the top song ive already got my personal soty list:

    my top kpop tts of the year
    1. skinz (onlyoneof)
    2. after like (ive)
    3. be free (kb)
    4. arson (jhope)
    5. guerilla (ateez)
    6. zero (drippin)
    7. attention (nwjns)
    8. girls (aespa)
    9. gasoline (key)
    10. love dive (ive)
    (7-10 are interchangeable tbh)

    my top kpop bsides of the year
    1. ultimate bliss (onlyoneof)
    2. cyberpunk (ateez)
    3. time lapse (nct 127)
    4. survive the night (tbz)
    5. royal (ive)
    (ok 2-5 are pretty interchangeable depending on how im feeling like theres such a massive wall between ultimate bliss and the others)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Well, here are my top songs of 2022 based off how many times I listened to them. It’s different to how I would rank them based on how much I like them but numbers don’t lie.

    Title Tracks:
    1. Begin – YooJung (OnlyOneOf)
    2. Be Free – KB (OnlyOneOf)
    3. Last Sequence – WJSN
    4. LOVE DIVE – IVE
    5. Tell Me Now (LOONA, Brave Girls Queendom Collab)
    6. POSE – LOONA
    8. SOUR – The Rose
    9. AURA – WJSN
    11. Do It Like This – P1Harmony
    12. Chemical – from20
    13. New Thing – ZICO, Homies
    15. BUT YOU – iKON
    ( VERY SPECIAL MENTION TO ‘HOLD MY HAND’ Cover by WJSN and VIVIZ. I streamed the heck out of that song on YT. Don’t know where it would place on this list though)

    1. Pale Dot Blue – LOONA
    2. Different Song For Me – P1Harmony
    3. Dragon – iKON
    4. Montage – ONEWE
    5. Siren – Taeyeon
    7. Shadow – SEVENTEEN
    8. Fairytale – Dreamcatcher
    10. SHOUT OUT – Enhypen
    11. Polaroid Love – Enhypen
    12. XXXX – Chungha
    13. That’$ Money – P1Harmony
    14. NEED U – LOONA
    15. Survive The Night – THE BOYZ

    I’m genuinely surprised that TXT, BTS, THE BOYZ or ONEUS aren’t on here much. Definitely missing Younha, KEY, Taemin, and IU on this list but that’s because I mainly listened to their songs that weren’t released in 2022.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. btw are any of yall following loonagate rn…..bbc really fucked up so royally w loona that almost their entire fanbase is urging ppl not to financially support their possible comeback bc the girls want to escape their hellhole of an agency that badly and have even told fans how much they want out. rlly. just imagine having to tell ppl not to buy ur groups album or even stream it/any video related to it bc u feel that bad for them. its so so sad and i just hope the girls can get out (and fast!)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I haven’t kept up with k-pop as much this year, but I’ve feel like you summed up my feelings very well. The song topping my list this year on my personal playlist has been Golden Child’s “Replay” ever since it came out. Thank you for putting me onto them because Golden Child somehow went under my radar (even though I love Infinite) and it was your blog that convinced me to check them out.

    For girl groups my top song was IVE’s “After Like.” I had been on a disco kick for a while and they announced it right in the middle of it, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

    My most listened to k-pop song ended up being Max Changmin’s “Maniac” tho. Ultimately not the best year, but we got some good songs in the end. I feel like it had such a slow start, with some standouts here and there. Then there was an influx of hit songs and then it went back to a drought lol

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Tan’s Du Du Du was my #1 title track, Gasoline has grown on me, and I think Cupid will be in my top 30. Won’t be issuing my official results until after the WayV album hopefully drops on the 28th.


  13. From the journal of Xeno Terran..

    January 2, 2022

    Good morning, Mister Journal! Hey! Can I just call you Mr. J? It sounds so cool! I can?! Great! Thanks, Mr. J! (*giggles*) It is such a wonderful day, don’t you think? I know I didn’t get to you yesterday because I was just too drained after that New Year’s Eve party, but I won’t let you down again, deal? 😛 🙂 😀

    I think this year is going to be special. Know what I mean, Mr. J? I mean 2021 was okay, sort of.. ..a bit.. ..depressi…. NO! Mister Negativity is not going to live in this house. No sirree. And we kicked Debbie Downer to the curb back in 2014, so her feminine products will not be taking up shelf space in our bathroom ever again. Only happy people hang their hats here; you betcha!

    Thank goodness Woo!Ah! and fromis_9 moved into the neighborhood last year. There was an emptiness that I never realized was there until they came along. Now that vacuum is filled with cheer and merriment, YAY! And they’re such good and responsible neighbors too. If I were a few years younger… What, Mr. J? I’m just daydreaming! Fine.. ..back here on good ole solid Earth…

    Anywho, I won’t take up too much of your time, Mr. J. I just wanted to let you know that I’m doing great and I can’t wait for this year to gift me with all the joy it will bring. See ya tomorrow Mr. J!

    Signed, X

    P.S. You really are my bestest buddy, Mr. J.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. WOOOOOO!!!!!! Honestly I place more importance on this than spotify wrapped itself (especially this year where I discovered Exo’s bsides and omfg 50% of my wrapped is Exo!) Rooting for Nonstop!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Well, I put all my money on Can’t stop shinning, Drummin, Icarus, Hello (or Zero), After like, Limbo and Pop?Pop! for the top 10 (ᴗ ͜ʖ ᴗ). The rest could divide properly for senior groups like Golcha, Twice, SNSD…
    Concluse, Rookies dominate the best songs this year.


  16. Looking forward to the recap!!

    My Top 25 based on how much happiness or melancholy they brought to my 2022 are:

    1 Seventeen World
    2 Rie Because
    3 Kihyun Youth
    4 JJun Nobody like u
    5 Chanhyuk Panorama
    6 RoadB Icarus
    7 Ikon But You
    8 Drippin The One
    9 F.able Cloud9
    10 MCND #Mood
    11 Enhypen Paradoxx Invasion
    12 To1 Drummin
    13 Oneus Same scent
    14 The Rose Sour
    15 Winner I love u
    16 JustB Me (Naneun)
    17 Ninei Young Boy
    18 NTX Old School
    19 P1Harmony Do it like this
    20 Golcha Replay
    21 Up10tion What if love
    22 TAN Dududu
    23 StayC Beautiful Monster
    24 GG Forever 1
    25 Ive After like

    1 Golcha 365!
    2 Nine.i Love
    3 Enhypen TFW
    4 ATBO Good Vibes Only
    5 Ateez Cyberpunk
    6 Tempest Young & wild
    7 Key Villain
    8 Victon Bonnie & Clyde
    9 TxT Thursday Child
    10 Pentagon Sparkling night


  17. Trying to rank them would be really hard. I think it’s easier for me to first separate it by male groups and female groups. My Favorite K-Pop 2022 tunes (probably less than 50; could easily flesh it out w/ next-tier faves):

    Male groups (in some kind of rough order): RoaD-B’s Nonstop & Icarus, OnlyOneOf’s Underground Idol (YooJung – begin, Rie – because, KB – be free), iKON – But You, Golden Child – Replay, TO1 – Drummin’, Treasure – HELLO, Woozi – Ruby, Max Changmin – Devil & Maniac

    Female groups: Fifty Fifty – Higher (also Lovin Me), NewJeans – Hype Boy (also Attention), IVE – Love Dive & After LIKE, Brave Girls – Thank You, Chung Ha – Sparkling, Jessi – ZOOM, LE SSERAFIM – Impurities, Sorn – Sharp Objects, Sunmi – Heart Burn, Hyolyn – Layin’ Low, APink – Dilemma, Red Velvet – Feel My Rhythm & Birthday

    B-sides: Fifty Fifty – Tell Me, Enhypen – Polaroid Love, STAYC – YOUNG LUV, Dreamcatcher – Starlight, IVE – My Satisfaction, Rocket Punch – In My World, NewJeans – Hurt, TXT – Opening Sequence, (G)I-DLE – MY BAG, Girls’ Generation – You Better Run


    • Oh, and soundtrack songs: 2 favorites, coincidentally from the same show, which I didn’t even watch [Bulgasal OST]: Kim Yeji, Kardi – Tunnel, 4men – Leave. Both songs have been on my playlist all year, and I never tire of them.


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