In 2022, K-pop gifted us with lots of remarkable songs. Each melody can be listened to and perceived in multiple ways, from a mood-setter to a mood-changer. But let’s walk through what happened this year: 2022 satisfied our second-generation nostalgia thanks to the reunion of Girls’ Generation and Super Junior’s comeback; it showed us the power of fourth generations of idols with groups like aespa and ATEEZ; 2022 was the year that marked BTS’ first ever hiatus and also helped to establish the supremacy of girl groups in the K-industry. Additionally, K-pop fans were finally able to enjoy live concerts and festivals again, and thanks to that, they discovered there is way more to experience in the K-music panorama than just K-pop. 

We chose 20 songs that, in our humble opinion, stood out this year. We thoroughly enjoyed each release, and we will surely be listening to these songs well into 2023.

The order of the list is not a ranking. 

Hype Boy – NewJeans 

This debut song is something everyone was addicted to – probably thanks to the viral challenge that is still holding on after months on every social media channel. The nostalgic retro vibe, and the sweet and candid meaning of this song, makes it one of the biggest hits of 2022.

Best B-side track: Attention 

BTBT – B.I X Soulja Boy (feat. DeVita)

Kim Hanbin “biteulbiteul” us with a song that can be easily marked as “the song of the summer”. BTBT was everywhere, all around the world. The groovy rhythm and the compelling lyrics brought to life a memorable song. B.I didn’t expect the success of BTBT. We didn’t either. But with BTBT, he showed his full potential, hinting that there is much more left to be uncovered in 2023. 

Best B-side track: Tangerine

Nxde – (G)I-DLE

This song is iconic. And it will always be. Created as a hymn to female independence, addressing the over-exposed sexualisation of girl group, it became a way to fight child pornography searches online. In an interview, Soyeon revealed the mission to clear out research engines. Now, by looking at the words nxde or nude aideul you’ll find tons of results with the girls’ song and not non-consensual pics of kids and women. Oops. 

Best B-side track: Change

Hot – SEVENTEEN 

Well, what more can we say other than… hot, hot, hot, hot? These thirteen men probably released one of the sexiest songs of the year. The group delivered a masterful piece that remains stuck in your head. And let’s not talk about the choreography – this is definitely a piece that brought people back to life during live performances.

Best B-side track: Don Quixote 

Love Dive – IVE

To quote the song: “Narcissistic, my God, I love it“. The dance, the lyrics, the voices, and the mythology all came together in a modern concept. Everything in this song is an ingredient for a huge success. The sextet is now a consecrated rookie-not-so-rookie-anymore group. 

Run BTS – BTS

In Busan, for the first time ever, people were able to see a live performance of this song. Part of the PROOF anthology, this is a masterful piece created by BTS. The lyrics powerfully narrate the group’s story, marking the end of an era for BTS and ARMY. 

Antifragile – LE SSERAFIM 

Anti-ti-ti-ti fragile, fragile/Anti-ti-ti-ti fragile“. Raise your hand if you didn’t find yourself dancing around while humming this catching bridge. The girls revealed that they had been preparing for this song since their debut. The result is a catchy, funny, energetic K-pop-meets-Reggaeton song. Lovey, lovey, dovey.

Best B-side track: No Celestial

NaNaNa – GOT7

The boys are back. After reclaiming all their music and becoming fully independent, the group kept their promise to Aghase and, in 2022, gifted them with a full album: green as their signature colour. The track-list is a memorable walk down memory lane through the history of their sound.

Best B-side track: Drive Me To The Moon

Forever 1 – Girls’ Generation 

The undisputed queens of K-pop went on hiatus in 2017, and with this comeback, they proved their crowns are still untouchable. The song is reminiscent of their debut single: Into The New World. Iconic.

Best B-side track: Villain 

Guerrilla – ATEEZ

During the summer, the boys projected us into a dystopian world. The title track of their new album made them unstoppable. The beat, the cinematic MV, Jongho’s chorus, and Mingi’s rap all fused together to create a work of art. 

Best B-side track: Cyberpunk 

Pink Venom – BLACKPINK

What can we say? Blackpink in the area! New music and a world tour gave Blinks what they had been waiting for a really long time. The ra-ta-ta-ta at the end is so addictive that it makes you scream Blackpink’s fanchant with all the air in your lungs. 

Best B-side track: Typa Girl

Still Life – BIGBANG

BIGBANG’s music never grows old. Four seasons for no reason. The whispered sentence in the lyrics gave us chills. G-Dragon’s voice and T.O.P’s rap go hand-in-hand, and the song feels like a walk down memory lane.  

Talk That Talk – Twice

The girls have been playing in the K-pop arena for seven years and just renewed their contract with JYP. This song proves they are growing together as a group and have switched to a bolder and more charismatic style. The party has just begun.

Best B-side track: Queen of Hearts

Don’t Wait – Super Junior

Seventeen years after their debut, and Super Junior are still on fire. The Road: Keep on Going shows the charm of SuJu in their most pure form. The song is a cheerful melody that looks back at the group’s history and doesn’t disappoint the group’s die-hard fans.

Best B-side track: Mango 

Feel My Rhythm – Red Velvet

The ballerina concept and the mix between K-pop and classical music was the right choice for the girls’ comeback. Bach’s Air on the G String works perfectly with their honey voices and creates a modern, romantic song. 

Best B-side track: BAMBOLEO 

Maniac – Stray Kids 

Felix’s deep yet sweet voice conquers from the very first listen. The song is K-pop at its best and shows all the charms of JYP’s golden boys.

Best B-side track: Venom 

Candy – NCT DREAM 

At the end of this year, NCT DREAM released a Christmas album, featuring a remake of H.O.T’s top hit, Candy. The result is a refreshing, bright song that will stick with us for months. 

Best B-side track: Tangerine Love (Favorite)  

2 Baddies – NCT 127 

Fast. Not furious. But 100% compelling. The chorus “Two baddies, two baddies, one Porsche makes your head nod along to the music, and it’s a very masculine way to sing about the joy of being free. 

Best B-side track: Gold Dust 

Blessed-Cursed – ENHYPEN

“To hell with your rules”. The septet is known for their perfectly synchronised choreography, which they presented at the beginning of the year with a powerful single that mixed Hip-hop and Rock sounds with powerful lyrics.

Best B-side track: Polaroid Love 

Good Boy Gone Bad – TOMORROW X TOGETHER

This song presents a hardcore style of Hip-hop infused with Rock to portray heartbreak in its raw and dark form. TXT are by definition the voices of Gen Z. This concept shows a different side of the group. Note to Yeonjun’s laugh. Hysterical. 

Best B-side track: Thursday’s Child Has Far To Go 

As we said before, BTS announced they were going on hiatus this year. Their solo projects and collaborations with other artists put streaming platforms on fire. A special mention goes to j-hope’s album Jack in the Box and the song MORE, RM’s Indigo featuring the title track Wild Flower, Jin’s Astronaut, and Suga’s collaboration with PSY that resulted in the addictive That That. We chose not to include these songs in our list, but we still think they are worthy of mentioning since they mark the opening of a new chapter for BTS’ members and the whole K-music soundscape.

We have something for you to listen to on Spotify too, check out the playlist here.

Written by Marianna Baroli

B.I. MV – MV © 131 Label

BTS Video © HYBE Entertainment

ATEEZ MV © KQ Entertainment

RED VELVET & NCT127 MV & Girls’ Generation Image © SM Entertainment

TXT MV © HYBE Entertainment

View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, and art, with an emphasis on the Asian entertainment industry. We are hoping our audience will grow with us as we begin to explore new platforms such as K-pop / K-music, and Asian music in general, and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, music, and arts, worldwide.

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