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The Top 10 K-Pop Albums of 2022

Top 10 K-Pop Albums of 2022Compared to 2021, this year definitely felt weaker when it comes to albums. Mini albums faired better than full-lengths, but apart from a few mega-standouts, most K-pop releases took a piecemeal approach to their music — too often stuffing tracklists with a horde of different producers rather than settling on one unique vision.

Like usual, my top ten list is cut in half, presenting the top five mini albums and the top five full albums. My eligibility criteria has widened just a bit to include a few important highlights:

  • Mini albums must have at least four full tracks to qualify
  • Repackages are considered the definitive version of an album (unless otherwise noted)

2022 END-OF-YEAR MASTERPOST


MINI ALBUMS

Honorable Mentions:

LE SSERAFIM – Fearless
Woodz – Colorful Trauma
SF9 – The Wave Of 9
TO1 – UP2U
ATEEZ – The World Ep.1: Movement
Chungha – Bare & Rare Pt.1


5. ENHYPEN – Manifesto: Day 1

Manifesto Day 1

2022 was the year when ENHYPEN’s music finally clicked with me, and Manifesto was a big influence on that. It’s a lean, four-song effort where every song works well. Shout out to the fantastic “Shout Out” — a bombastic summertime single that never was.

Standout Album Tracks: Shout Out, TFW (That Feeling When)

Spotify Link


4. CSR – Sequence: 7272

sequence 7272

I love when rookie artists burst right out of the gate with an identifiable concept. You could criticize Sequence as nothing more than a Lovelyz/GFriend cosplay, but the songs are strong and no one else is tackling this sound right now. Fans of bright, effervescent pop music will find plenty to love here.

Standout Album Tracks: Euratcha!, Toi Et Moi

Spotify Link


3. Brave Girls – Thank You

thank you

Brave Girls retain last year’s third place slot with another all-killer, no-filler dance pop album that sees them in full mastery of their sound. Any of these songs could have been singles and there’s a consistency to Thank You‘s vision that makes it hang together well.

Standout Album Tracks: Can I Love You, Love Is Gone

Spotify Link


2. CRAVITY – New Wave

new wave

So many of CRAVITY’s past albums felt like a grab bag of styles. New Wave stands out for its consistency. The group fully embraces a brighter sound palette, resulting in a string of tracks that compliment each other while standing apart as individual highlights.

Standout Album Tracks: Automatic, Colorful

Spotify Link


1. Golden Child – Aura

Aura

Far and away my favorite musical project of 2022, Aura threatens 2018’s Miracle and 2021’s YES as my favorite Golden Child mini. Every song is excellent, but that opening trio marks a career highlight. The sounds on Aura are varied, yet pulled together by the group’s confident performance. And most importantly, the songwriting is just top-tier. Some of the industry’s best producers have highlights here.

Standout Album Tracks: Knocking On My Door, 3! 6! 5!, Miracle

Spotify Link


FULL ALBUMS

Honorable Mention:

Dreamcatcher – Apocalypse: Save Us


5. Key – Gasoline

Gasoline

Though not as consistently great as his first album, Gasoline is still the work of an artist who knows exactly what he wants to do. Its highlights are plentiful and the music drips with style.

Standout Album Tracks: Guilty Pleasure, Villain, Bound

Spotify Link


4. Oh My Girl – Real Love

Real love

Real Love‘s title track isn’t among Oh My Girl’s best, but the rest of the album makes up for this misstep. It’s a brilliant blend of quirky experiments and buoyant pop music, dripping with personality.

Standout Album Tracks: Blink, Replay, Parachute

Spotify Link


3. DRIPPIN – Villain: The End

The End

I anticipate this album will see a repackage soon, which may eventually raise its placement on this list. But even in its original form, The End holds enough highlights to make it a standout of the year. Some songs feel a bit too trendy for their own good, but the album’s dramatic, rock-fueled sound deepens DRIPPIN’s discography in a satisfying way.

Standout Album Tracks: Silence, Monster, Champion

Spotify Link


2. PSY – PSY 9th

PSY 9th

This album has been postponed more times than I can count, but the end result turned out to be worth the wait. PSY 9th plays like the coolest party in K-pop, inviting multiple high-profile guests to join in the fun. It’s incredibly varied and occasionally quite bonkers, but even the album’s more “out there” moments hold together thanks to the strength of PSY’s personality.

Standout Album Tracks: Now, Everyday, Dear Me

Spotify Link


1. Girls’ Generation – Forever 1

forever 1

Girls’ Generation understood their mission with Forever 1, and they succeeded beyond the shadow of a doubt. The album plays like an extended victory lap, bounding through genres that reference the group’s various eras. The front half is particularly strong, with highlights like Lucky Like That, You Better Run and Villain painting the group in different musical colors. And of course, it all kicks off with the blazing title track — one of the most effusive openers in Girls’ Generation’s history.

Standout Album Tracks: Lucky Like That, You Better Run, Closer

Spotify Link

31 thoughts on “The Top 10 K-Pop Albums of 2022

  1. I enjoyed N.Flying and Kihyun’s EPs, as well. Plus, LUCY’s Childhood really clicked with me around the beginning of November (so, a drastic listening habit change right when Spotify stoped tracking, as is tradition 😉 ). Helps that I’m starting to understand the lyrics on my own a bit!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. my faves this year are FOREVER 1, FEARLESS, YOUNG-LUV.COM and The ReVe Festival 2022 – Feel My Rhythm. I’m really liking NCT DREAM’s newly released Candy EP too.

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  3. My fave albums this year :

    Ateez’s Guerilla Album (For once a whole album from Ateez and a the bsides actually managed to catch my attention!! ❤❤)

    Le Sserafim’s Anti Fragile Album (Excellent album and I loved all the songs in this!)

    Xdinary Heroes Test me Album (The bsides are low-key more amazing than the title! Strawberry Cake and Sucker Punch are probably my favorites!)

    HM : P1Harmony’s Do It Like This Album, SKZ Maniac Album (Venom, Charmer and Freeze are real highlights!)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. im sorry but onlyoneofs instinct pt 2 eats everything here up by MILES for me. i love industrial type stuff and experimental pop/r&b (in particular i ADORE machine girl iamx portishead crystal castles and jpegmafia) so that being said its prolly the only kpop release this year i completely loved from front to back it just ticks SO SO many of my personal music boxes and it rlly sounds like nothing else in kpop rn aaaaaaa i love that mini so much

    (that being said ultimate bliss is easily my top bside of the year)

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m getting into (and really liking) Jpegmafia, and although I don’t adore OOO’s mini as much as you do, I still quite like it.

      What’s your favourite album from him?

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      • easily veteran! the production is unlike anything ive ever heard before. its….how do i describe it…..the auditory equivalent of one of those creepypasta videos where it glitches to some cryptic disturbing image for a millisecond every 20 secs or so. and ofc u got peggy himself the mans delivery is incredible

        his other albums are a lot more toned down in that aspect imo so theyre a bit harder for me to enjoy

        Liked by 1 person

  5. csr and golden chikd’s albums are the fucking goat, deserved those spots

    anyway nick, if you’re going to review loona’s comeback on january (you probably shouldn’t for morality’s sake), DO NOT LINK THE ORIGINAL MUSIC VIDEO. try to find some reupload on youtube which doesn’t give revenue to their company, since the more money thats given to BBC, the more they’ll continue to exploit the members

    Liked by 5 people

  6. My favorite EPs are NewJeans (4 perfect songs), Fifty Fifty (3 perfect songs marred by the last track, which I pretend isn’t there), and Le Sserafim’s two. Favorite album is Dreamcatcher’s Apocalypse: Save Us. If OnlyOneOf combined all the Underground Idol tracks into one EP, that would be far and away my favorite EP.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have your honorable mentions on heavy rotation since a few weeks, so I guess I’m in agreement with all of this haha.
    I don’t know if you’ll mention it because it qualifies as Jpop but Twice Celebrate has turned out to be one of my standout albums this year. There’s a cohesive vibe, and some kind of maturity in the lyrics. The whole thing matches the cover so well haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My album picks this year are:

    (Minialbums)
    Fighting by Rolling Quartz- incredible rock songs, Jayoung’s voice is insane. My fav songs are Azalea, Holler, and Delight

    Thank You by Brave Girls- So I just love everything they do, apparently! Lush synthy dancepop perfection. My fav songs are literally all of them

    Feel my Rhythm by Red Velvet- This was such a Pretty album, they all sound so good and I love the orchestral sounds. Ny fav songs are Bamboleo, In My Dreams, and the title track

    Memem and Geekyland by Purple Kiss- I’m forever impressed by how much lyric-writing and composition they do, and both their minis were excellent this year. My fav songs are Cursor, Hate me Hurt me Love me, and Love is Dead

    Between 1&2 by Twice- Twice’s alhums continue to get stronger and stronger! This felt like a perfect marrying of both their pre and post-Fancy work. My fav songs are Talk That Talk, Trouble, and Queen of Hearts

    28 Reasons by Seulgi- Seulgi slayed this, quite simply. My fav songs are Crown, Los Angeles, and Dead Man Runnin

    Lethality by Kwon Eunbi- A measured and lethal (ha!) execution of pop that delves into some interesting styles along the way. My fav songs are Croquis, Simulation, and Underwater

    (Full albums)
    INVU by Taeyeon- I am SO here for dance!Taeyeon, I love her voice so much and this is her best album by far. My fav songs are Toddler, Siren, and INVU

    Lowlife Princess: Noir by Bibi- I am completely obsessed with Bibi’s work and artistry, and this was an absolutely killer first album. My fav songs are Animal Farm, City Love, and Jotto

    Horn by Apink- I recently (finally!) got into Apink and this was such a good album, I’m so glad they’re so active nearly twelve years into their career. My fav songs are Dilemma, Red Carpet, Single Rider, and My Oh My

    Bare and Rare pt. 1 by Chungha- this is a full album, not a mini! While I patiently wait for part 2, I appreciate her lyricism on this and the variety of sounds. My fav songs are Love Me Out Loud, Crazy Like You, California Dream, and Goodnight My Princess

    Forever 1 by Girls Generation- there is an alternate universe in which SNSD didn’t release this and instead had one boring ballad released, and I am SO glad we do not live in it. My fav songs are the title track, Villain, and Lucky Like That

    Liked by 3 people

  9. just a bunch of albums and eps I liked, not really in any order but the NCT monolith made some nice things so they are kind of camped at the top. I put in anything else I like besides K-pop.

    NCT 127 – 2 Baddies (the title was a stiff,but the rest of the album is great).
    NCT Dream – Beatbox
    Golden Child – Aura
    UP10tion – Novella and Code Name: Arrow
    Tempest – it’s me, it’s we and Shining up
    Onew – Dice
    TAN – 1TAN
    Kinoj2sly – Act!
    Da-Ice – Reversi
    Ayumu Imazu – Pixel
    DPR Ian – MIITO
    KAI – Peaches
    Nine-i- New World, I (Pt1)
    Yena – Smiley
    TripleS – Access
    CIX – OK Not
    PSY – 9th

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There were so many great albums this year. Key, I love Twice with all my heart and soul and both of their albums are the best things ever, Onew’s Dice, NewJeans, Le Sserafim’s Anti Fragile, Nayeon has every single little bit of my heart, I really love RM’s album, SNSD are never not great, ditto for Red Velvet, I also really loved Stayc and Kep1er, and Stray Kids are the best. I loved so many releases this year. I think if forced to chose Key’s Gasoline is probably my favorite but its very close.

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  11. following up on my first comment, news recently came out about the loona members’ contracts

    basically, any revenue that is earned through loona is split between 70% for BBC and 30% for the members

    however, expenses that go into activities are split 50:50 between both the company and the members

    let’s say 100,000 krw was generated and costs were 70,000 krw

    bbc: 70,000 – 35,000 = +35,000
    loona members: 30,000 – 35,000 = -5000

    which means for every activity that’s done, the loona members are going further and further in debt

    in conclusion, FUCKING BOYCOTT THIS COMEBACK, DO NOT DO ANYTHING THAT PUTS FURTHER MONEY INTO BBC’S POCKETS

    Liked by 1 person

  12. 10) *Seulgi – 28 Reasons*
    1. 28 Reasons
    2. Anywhere But Home

    9) *NewJeans – New Jeans*
    1. Attention
    2. Hurt

    8) *fromis_9 – Midnight Guest*
    1. DM
    2. Escape Room

    7) *fromis_9 – from our Memento Box*
    1. Rewind
    2. Stay This Way

    6) *Golden Child – Aura*
    1. Replay
    2. Miracle

    5) *Yena – Smiley*
    1. Pretty Boys
    2. Smiley

    4) *Le Sserafim – Fearless*
    1. The Great Mermaid
    2. Fearless

    3) *Le Sserafim – Antifragile*
    1. Antifragile
    2. Impurities

    2) *viviz – summer vibe*
    1. Love Love Love
    2. #FLASHBACK

    1) *CSR – Sequence: 7272*
    1. Pop? Pop!
    2. Manito

    Other good albums:
    NCT 127 – 2 Baddies
    Prsnt – Crazy Driver
    Girls’ Generation – Forever 1
    Key – Gasoline
    Red Velvet – Feel My Rhythm
    SF9 – The Wave OF9
    Kim Areum – Ocean Wave
    OnlyOneOf – Instinct, Pt. 2
    Eunbi – Lethality

    Like

  13. I am so happy Cravity put out some good music this year. Both releases were solid and Automatic and Boppin are two of my favorite B-sides this year.

    You also reminded me to dive into Key’s album. I need to cross that off the list before the year is over.

    I think my favorite release of the year was Nayeon’s debut mini album. It stayed on repeat for me for weeks, and I really don’t think it had a weak song on it.

    Other highlights for we were Red Velvet’s Reve Festival-Feel My Rhythm, Tempest’s debut mini, Winner’s Holiday and Le Sserafim’s Antifragile (The Hydra is one of the best intros to an album I’ve heard in a long time!).

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Manifesto : Day 1 is not my most favorite album of Enhypen (I still prefer Border : Carnival). But I admit that the tracks from this album is very stable, even Walk The Line and Foreshadow are so good just to be an intro and outro. It’s been two years since Enhypen’s debut and they always feel novel and experimental for each comeback, kinda get why people always have different opinion and taste for them, it’s often controversial (lol). Given-Taken is an alluring, graceful mysterious song that describes their Vampire lore. Drunk-Dazed, the dance type of song that makes you wanna dance along with it in the darkness. Feeling the energetic and refreshing side of them in Tamed-Dashed. Started Y2K concept in 2022 with the cool Blessed-Cursed, but then comeback with Future Perfect that seems futuristic & passionate. I’m very excited to see their new side for the next comeback!

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    • There is, and I have them disabled. But for whatever reason, it’s not working. I may go in and manually delete some from these EOY posts because you’re right… they’re kind of taking over.

      Like

  15. 1. Golden Child – Aura
    2. Seventeen – Sector 17
    3. Enhypen – Manifesto
    4. Nine.i – New World and Part 1
    5. MonstaX – The Dreaming (I know it was Dec2021, but I consider it a 2022 album)

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  16. Onew, Ateez, Seulgi, CSR and Key make out the top 5 albums for me. Shocked that neither Onew nor Seulgi made the honourable mentions *insert aggressively surprised smiley*

    Liked by 1 person

  17. even though I didn’t like Hot as a title track much, Seventeen’s b-tracks were amazing. Special shout out to Don Quixote and March. hands down my personal fave of the year.

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