Qualifications: Released December 10th to December 15th
In 2018, social justice and health took center stage in Kpop and Korean Entertainment. The year started in mourning following the suicide of SHINee’s Jonghyun and the passing of Seo Minwoo of 100%. Simultaneously, the #MeToo movement reached South Korea and sparked the reopening of the late actress Jang Ja Yeon’s case that followed her 2009 suicide. We saw a number of idols take hiatuses from their group’s activities to focus on their mental and physical health as well. In addition, we saw idols strive to break free of societal restraints and norms.
The importance of having honest, candid and straightforward discussions around physical, emotional and especially mental health, the stress of society’s criticisms of celebrities, as well as self-love was emphasized by the music that was released this year. Artists like IU and Jonghyun, on his posthumous album, took on hate comments and harsh criticisms about celebrities; Simon Dominic and Mino of WINNER got blunt about their struggles with suicide and panic disorder (respectively) in their music; BTS continued with their message of self love with the third album in their “Love Yourself” compilation, bringing their message and Kpop to a global stage like never before when they spoke to the UN in September.
There was so much good and meaningful and honest music that this year I am listing my top 100 songs that represented Kpop’s transformative year of rule breaking, finding its voice, and growth.
Wow Thing by 슬기 (Seulgi), 신비 (SinB), 청하 (Chungha) & 소연 (Soyeon)
Album: Wow Thing (Single) | Release: September 28, 2018 | Watch
“Wow Thing” was the fourth release in the SM Station collaboration with SK Telecom, Station x 0. The song about being positive and confident in the pursuit of one’s dreams, brought together Seulgi of Red Velvet, SinB of GFriend, Chungha and So Yeon of (G)I-DLE. “Wow Things” draw on retro, R&B girl group vibes and gives us the kind of inter-label collaboration Kpop fans crave.
사랑했었다 (Still Love You) by 이홍기 (Lee Hong Ki) & 유회승 (Yoo Hwe Seung)
Album: FNC Lab ‘사랑했었다 (Still Love You)’ | Release: April 8, 2018 | Watch
“Still Love You” was the first, and until mid-December the only, release from FNC’s version of SM STATION, FNC Lab. FTISLAND’s Lee Hong Ki has always been a capable vocalist, but Yoo Hwe Seung of N.Flying is able shine bright on this ballad, elevating this above the run of the mill OST-esque ballad it was shaping up to be with his impressive show of vocal strength with his five high notes.
Oh My! by 세븐틴 (Seventeen)
Album: 5th Mini Album- ‘You Make My Day’ | Release: July 16, 2018 | Watch
“Oh My!” is the quintessential boy band song. It’s bright, it’s catchy in a find yourself singing it randomly throughout the day way, and it makes the listener feel as though they’re the one having these thirteen guys sing to them about losing sleep because of how much they like them. “Oh My!” is a solid Kpop song, and is a departure in style from what most of their peers did this year.
Holiday ft. DPR 라이브 (DPR Live) by 수지 (Suzy)
Album: Faces of Love | Release: January 29, 2018 | Watch
Suzy sings about wanting to rest in the arms of the one she loves for her song “Holiday” which features DPR Live. The muted and relaxed instrumental create the feeling of being on vacation with memories of “busy days” melting away.
Teach You by 티파니 (Tiffany)
Album: Teach You | Release: September 28, 2018 | Watch
After 10 years as a member of one of the world’s biggest girl groups, in 2018 Tiffany began her venture into the American music industry. She kicked off her solo career with single “Over My Skin,” then followed it up by getting vengeful on an unfaithful ex on single “Teach You.” Tiffany takes this cheater’s card for a shopping spree, douses his clothes in bleach, and more as she teaches her ex a lesson his mother should have about what happens when you hurt a woman.
“Teach You” is also currently being featured on H&M’s Divided Music campaign which is meant to empower up and coming musicians.
내일해 (Lady) by 이엑스아이디 (EXID)
Album: 내일해 (Single) | Release: April 2, 2018 | Watch
EXID are the 90s with their flawless homage to New Jack Swing, single “Lady.” In lyrics written by LE and Shinsadong the girls of EXID have a hard time accepting the end of a relationship. “Lady” stands as a testament to EXID’s ability to reinvent their sound.
수퍼비와 ft. 비와이 (BewhY) by 슈퍼비 (Superbee)
Album: 쇼미더머니 777 Semi Final | Release: November 3, 2018 | Listen
Superbee and BewhY get boastful to a BewhY produced beat that features his signature grand, orchestral instrumental. The exclusive “superbewhy” zone they have entered, armed with “Romans 16:19” is where they become legends of the rap industry ordained by the Lord.
피노키오 (Pinocchio) by 태민 (Taemin) & 비와이 (BewhY)
Album: The Call Project No.4 | Release: June 22, 2018 | Listen
Another BewhY collaboration has made it on the list. Taemin and BewhY, the epitome of a collaboration I didn’t know I needed, resent themselves on this collaboration for MNET’s The Call. Taemin and BewhY are desperate to regain their innocence and transparency by having someone be able to recognize all the ways they live “hidden behind [a] smiling mask” so they pray to be like Pinnocchio, whose lies are always instantly exposed. “Pinoccho” is dark and sensual, perfectly blending both their individual styles.
Louder by 태양 (Tae Yang)
Album: Louder | Release: January 10, 2018 | Listen
As an honorary ambassador for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Tae Yang of BIGBANG released this rock tinged, tropical house cheer song for Korea and its teams during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The song is lyrically typical, full of motivational and positive lines like “even brighter than the stars of the night sky, let’s run to the very end for that day,” however, Tae Yang elevates the song with his exceptional vocals and presence and makes it feel and sound like something out of his own discography.
Yes or Yes by 트와이스 (Twice)
Album: Yes or Yes | Release: November 5, 2018 | Listen
No isn’t an option for TWICE as they eagerly pursue a relationship. TWICE have truly perfected the art of these Bubblegum Pop songs about being young and in love, and even though they have done this concept exclusively over their four year career each song feels new and sounds fresh.
백일몽 (Daydream) by 제이홉 (J-Hope)
Album: Hope World | Release: March 1, 2018 | Watch
Bangtan Boy’s J-Hope raps about his yearning for balance in his life on the lead single “Daydream” from his mixtape “Hope World.” He casts a spotlight on the celebrity struggle to live a “half and half” life, split between a very public life as a celebrity and a private life as a regular person.
“Daydream” details his desire to be able to have normal experiences, to “cry in peace,” to “party like crazy” or to be “fluttered with love” without it being taken as a rejection of his career and public life. He compares his desires for balance, his daydreams, to the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland or the secret road to Hogwarts to emphasized that they feel impossible and out of reach.
Other Memorable J-Hope Releases: P.O.P (Piece Of Peace) pt.1, 항상 (HANGSANG) ft. Supreme Boi
운명 (The Chance of Love) by 동방신기 (DBSK)
Album: The 8th Album- ‘New Chapter #1 : The Chance of Love’ | Release: March 28, 2018 | Listen
DBSK have returned after a three year hiatus, during which they served their mandatory military service, with their eighth album “Chapter #1.” The duo start their new chapter with this fresh and bouncy love song that draws from jazz and swing influences.
Other Memorable DBSK Releases: 평행선 (Love Line)
Moondance by 비에이피 (B.A.P)
Album: 8th Single Album- ‘Ego’ | Release: December 13, 2017 | Listen
B.A.P has really been put through the wringer by their label TS Entertainment. After suing the label in 2014, the group finally settled and made a comeback in 2015, but as TSE has continued to poorly manage their artists B.A.P and other TSE artists have been slowly leaving the label, both Bang Yong Guk and Zelo terminating their contract this year.
B.A.P’s released what we now know is their last album, “Ego,” at the end of last year. Main vocalist Daehyun and Youngjae a break from their high notes, while Jongup and Himchan are given more room to flex their vocal abilities on EDM song “Moondance.”
Other Memorable B.A.P Releases: Think Hole
Don’t Call Me by 에릭남 (Eric Nam)
Album: Honestly | Release: | Listen
Eric Nam explores EDM and Electro Pop on his album “Honestly.” For “Don’t Call Me” set to a Tropical EDM beat, Eric struggles with moving on from a break up and hopes that his ex won’t call him to relieve their loneliness because he doesn’t have the strength to resist going back.
Other Memorable Eric Nam Releases: Potion ft. 우디고차일드 (Woodie Gochild), 솔직히 (Honestly…)
We Young by 찬열 (Chanyeol) & 세훈 (Sehun)
Album: We Young (Single) | Release: September 14, 2018 | Watch
“Young” was the third single from SM Station x 0 by EXO’s rap line, Chanyeol and Sehun. In line with the music platform’s mission the song is about motivating young people to follow their dreams, persevere through struggles and to remember that many of the things they perceive as a crisis are only temporary and there is so much time to get where you want.
레츠기릿 (Let’s Get It) ft. 박재범 (Park Jaebeom) & 도끼 (Dok2) by 우디고차일드 (Woodie Gochild)
Album: 레츠기릿 (Single) | Release: December 16, 2018 | Watch
“Let’s Get It” is a quintessential trap song, it’s a boastful, it’s addictive, but it’s got an interesting angle with the use of a steel drum to give the song an island vibe.
Other Memorable Woodie Gochild Releases: Positive Bounce ft. 페노메코 (Penomeco), 솜사탕 (Cotton Candy) ft. 화사 (Hwasa), Roll Cake ft. Zene The Zilla, Muse ft. 박재범 (Park Jaebeom) & 식케이 (Sik-K)
Coupe ft. Rich The Kid by 吴亦凡 (Kris Wu)
Album: Antares | Release: November 2, 2018 | Watch
While Kris is sub-par in his lyrics writing, he makes up for it big time with his choice of beats and his ability to ride those beats in a way that’s pleasing to the ear. Kris Wu released his first album “Antares” in the U.S this year, and while it doesn’t push the boundaries, it was pack with catchy and of the moment trap beats. “Coupe” which features Rich The Kid is trap song that holds its own next to the music of rappers in his weight class.
“Antares” made it to the Billboard Hot 200 list, if he can hone his lyric writing skills, Kris Wu can reap an even bigger harvest with future works.
Other Memorable Kris Wu Releases: Freedom ft. Jhené Aiko, November Rain, Tough Pill, Selfish, Deserve ft. Travis Scott
Million by 박재범 (Park Jaebeom)
Album: Ask About Me | Release: July 20, 2018 | Watch
After signing with ROC Nation in 2017, in 2018 Jay Park started his venture into the American music industry with album “Ask About Me” which featured collaborations with 2Chainz, Rich The Kid, Vic Mensa and Gashi. I always prefer a singing Jay Park to a rapping Jay Park, but on this album his rapping showed improvement.
Jay Park is feeling himself with song “Sexy 4eva,” singing about excelling in spite of obstacles and being confident in himself, particularly his looks. For the MV Jay Park shines the spotlight on diversity, making people of different body types, races, abilities, ages, genders, and more the stars.
Other Memorable Releases: Finish Line ft. 슈퍼비 (Superbee) & Jvcki Wai, Ask About Me [Album]
빛나리 (Shine) by 펜타곤 (Pentagon)
Album: Positive | Release: April 2, 2018 | Watch
Pentagon struck gold with this hyper addictive anthem. Equipped with a catchy melody via the piano, a repetitive chorus, and the viral Shoot dance, “Shine” has clocked over 109 million views making this one of the most popular songs of 2018. Despite having a viral hit, Pentagon was hit with a bump in the road when member E’Dawn was kicked out of the group and their label CUBE for revealing he and labelmate HyunA have been dating for two years.
Monster by 헨리 (Henry)
Album: Monster (Single) | Release: February 2, 2018 | Watch
In 2018, Henry left SM Entertainment after 10 years and established his own one man agency in addition to joining Monster Entertainment Group for his Chinese Promotions, and label AXIS, established by former YGE creative director SINXITY.
As if to signal the changes that were coming for him in 2018, Henry made a 180 with “Monster,” that came in three languages (Chinese, English, and Korean). In a pleasant surprise Henry swapped his boy-ish Pop sound that we know in songs like “Trap” or “Fantastic,” for the grungier, more soulful “Monster,” that is about leaving a relationship that just isn’t working anymore.
나타나줘 (Post It) ft. 박재범 (Park Jaebeom) by 로꼬 (Loco)
Album: 나타나줘 (Single) | Release: March 14, 2018 | Watch
Loco is stuck in limbo waiting for the person he likes to post on their Instagram in song “Post It.” Loco does a bit of singing about the Millennial activity of stalking your crush’s Instagram and then having your mind wonder when they stop posting and you lose your one connection to them.
Other Memorable Loco Releases: 시간이 들겠지 (It Takes Time) ft. 콜드 (Colde)
Rolling Stones ft. 카더가든 (Car, the garden) by 우기 (Woogie)
Album: Rolling Stones (Single) | Release: | Listen
Woodie produces songs that sound like they’re part of a movie soundtrack. For song “Rolling Stones” sung by car, the garden, Woodie channels a Western with this bluesy rock and roll song about wanting to be alone and wander.
Other Memorable Woogie Releases: Call My Name ft. 지소울 (G.Soul), Man Just Wanna Get Paid ft. 박재범 (Park Jaebeom), Play Me ft. 식케이 (Sik-K) & 페노메코 (Penomeco), 웰컴 투 서울 (Welcome To Seoul) ft. Ugly Duck, pH-1 & 박재범 (Park Jaebeom), Have A Good Night ft. ELO
전화받아 (Pick Up The Phone) ft. 키노 (Kino), Woodz & 네이슨 (Nathan) by 박지민 (Park Jimin)
Album: jiminxjamie | Release: September 4, 2018 | Listen
Jimin rightfully lost her patience with JYP and being made to wait two years to release a new album on her show After School in January, and it did the trick because in September Jimin finally put out mini album, “jiminxjamie.” With her M.O.L.A crew members, UNIQ’s Seungyoun as WOODZ, Pentagon’s Kino and Nathan, she gets creative and funny about a Millennial problem of trying to get someone to respond to your phone call.
Over three verses the other three take turns trying to get in contact with Kino, then Woodz to go eat and write their song. Even though they see the M.I.A member has read their messages and is active on social media they won’t pick up the phone.
Other Memorable Jimin Releases: April Fools (0401)
미끌미끌 (Slip N Slide) ft. 크러쉬 (Crush) by 썸데프 (Somdef)
Album: Some Definition of Love | Release: September 26, 2018 | Watch
Loco & Bravo, Crush, George, Hoody & BewhY, and Jinbo & Sumin all give their definitions of love for Somdef’s album “Some Definition of Love.” Unfortunately I couldn’t put the whole album on this list but the hard choice of best song goes to Somedef and Crush’s “Slip N Slide.” The instantly addictive Bossa Nova style love song is all about being so jumbled with emotion when struck with love at first sight.
Other Memorable Somedef Releases: Some Definition of Love [Album]
KitKat by 우디고차일드 (Woodie Gochild), 하온 (HAON), 식케이 (Sik-K) & pH-1
Album: Good Luck | Release: September 27, 2018 | Watch
Playing on the KitKat slogan, set to an instrumental that sounds like a mix between a video game and a children’s song, Woodie Gochild, HAON, Sik-K and pH-1 long to break free from their stressful daily lives.
Egotistic by 마마무 (Mamamoo)
Album: Red Moon | Release: July 16, 2018 | Watch
Mamamoo confronts a selfish and self-absorbed lover, who puts themselves first in the relationship with summer release “Egotistic.” Latin influences were everywhere in Kpop, and Mamamoo made their own successful interpretation the trend of the year with the lead single from their album “Red Moon.”
Other Memorable Mamamoo Releases: Midnight Summer Dream, No More Drama, Wind Flower
Simon Says by NCT 127
Album: The 1st Album Repackage- ‘Regulate’ | Release: October 12, 2018 | Watch
NCT 127 had a a great year, making an appearance at the American Music Awards, having DJ Khaled agree to a collaboration, and having their album “Regular-Irregular” peak at 86 on the Billboard Hot 200.
“Simon Says” opens with a sample from a viral clip of Maori Haka wedding performance, then bursts open into layers of a synths and a booming bass. The group boasts their departure from the norm and what society, “Simon,” dictates as the formula for success. NCT 127 has a way of taking these super busy, almost chaotic songs, that could easily get messy when you have such a large number of rotating members, and making it work. An ability that no doubt comes from the chaos of their group concept of an endless rotation of members.
Other Memorable NCT 127 Releases: The 1st Album- ‘Regular-Irregular‘ [Album], The 1st Album Repackage- ‘Regulate’ [Album], NCT 2018 Empathy [Album]
알러뷰 (I Love You) by 이엑스아이디 (EXID)
Album: 알러뷰 (Single) | Release: November 21, 2018 | Watch
EXID is back as five one again! After a two year battle with hyperthyroidism, member Solji has recovered and returned. She marks her return by flexing her vocal strength with high notes on this Pop song with subtle injections of House in the chorus. The group sings about fighting their urges for the the object of their affection.
떠나지마요 (Don’t Leave) by 블락비 (Block B)
Album: Re:MONTAGE | Release: January 9, 2018 | Watch
We didn’t know it at the time, but “떠나지마요 (Don’t Leave)” was Block B’s last release as seven. In 2018, Zico decided to leave their label, and the group to focus on his solo music, and while the group will stay together, with Jaehyo’s enlistment and the other members choosing to focus on their solo work as well, it will be a while before see them as a group again.
Block B has always been a versatile group, flawlessly bouncing from strong Hip Hop concepts to Ballads like “떠나지마요 (Don’t Leave).” The mournful theme of not wanting things to end with the one you love is especially emotional in hindsight.
Cupid ft. 페노메코 (Penomeco) by pH-1
Album: loves | Release: August 20, 2018 | Watch | One To Watch
pH-1 debuted under H1GHR MUSIC in 2017 with album “Island Kid,” the lead single, “Donut,” made it on my Top 50 songs of 2017 list. Despite having a few popular songs, pH-1 has struggled to get elevated to mainstream, a struggle he’s openly expressed his frustration with. In 2018, he and the rest of his label mates went on a sold out U.S Tour, and he joined season 7 of SMTM and made it all the way to semi-finals. In addition, he put out four single albums, “loves” being the third.
pH-1 comes together with Penomeco for “Cupid,” a smooth electronic hip hop song about falling for a girl from afar and wanting Cupid to intervene and make their love a reality. pH-1 has the lyrical ability and a solid discography so far, armed with the exposure from SMTM7, 2019 has the potential to be his year.
SoulMate ft. 아이유 (IU) by 지코 (Zico)
Album: SoulMate (Single) | Release: July 30, 2018 | Watch
Zico steps away from him typical style of music and makes his own, successful, interpretation of IU’s style of Contemporary R&B. IU and Zico are an unexpected, but in hindsight inevitable and perfect collaboration. They’re both young and considered two of the best song writers in the industry. Together for “SoulMate” they sing about always finding their way back to their comfort, their soulmate.
행복했던 날들이었다 (Days Gone By) by 데이식스 (Day6)
Album: Remember Us : Youth Part 2 | Release: December 10, 2018 | Listen
Day6 tap into feelings of nostalgia for their song “행복했던 날들이었다 (Days Gone By).” This 80s synth pop song is all about reminiscing on the past. From lyrics like,
“Ah, what happy days (It was like a dream)
Now though there won’t be more
I’m going to leave them in the past,”
to the retro styling of their music video, Day6 nails this concept in every way.
Other Memorable Day6 Releases: Shoot Me : Youth Part 1 [Album], Remember Us : Youth Part 2 [Album]
Trivia 承 : Love by RM
Album: Love Yourself 結 ‘Answer’ | Release: August 24, 2018 | Listen
The biggest issue I had with Bangtan Boy’s “Love Yourself 承 ‘Her’” album last year, was that Jimin’s solo song,
“Serendipity” didn’t get the moment it deserved as the two and half minute intro to the album. This year with “Love Yourself 結 ‘Answer’” the members got full solo songs, but again they weren’t given they shine they deserved by being put on a group album with no promotion.
Rap Monster, now known as RM, focuses on spelling and distance. He uses the position of letters I and U in the alphabet,
“It’s a long way from I to U
as well as the distance created by one letter in 사랑, meaning love, and 사람, meaning person to express his difficulty in describing what love is and how fragile it is.
Other Memorable Bangtan Boys Releases: Euphoria, I’m Fine, Singularity (V Solo), Fake Love, Magic Shop
Kiss Me Like That by 신화 (Shinhwa)
Album: Twenty Special Album- ‘Heart’ | Release: August 28, 2018 | Watch
Shinhwa celebrated twenty legendary years with their special album “Heart.” Lead single “Kiss Me Like That” is a sweet, acoustic love song that shows of the versatility that gave this boy band the longevity like no other.
Other Memorable Shinhwa Releases: In The Air with 윤미래 (Yoon Mirae)
Playlist by DPR 라이브 (DPR Live)
Album: Playlist | Release: June 12, 2018 | Watch
After dropping two albums in 2017, DPR Live took a break from releasing music, only dropping “Action!” and “Playlist,” and instead focused on his first world tour. DPR Live seduces with Bossa Nova inspired single “Playlist” and draws on Latin influences for the visuals.
Other Memorable DPR Live Releases: Action! ft. 그레이 (Gray)
One of Those Nights ft. 크러쉬 (Crush) by 키 (Key)
Album: The 1st Album- ‘Face’ | Release: November 26, 2018 | Watch
Key made his solo debut with album “Face.” Lead single “One of Those Nights” featuring Crush swings back and forth between a lone acoustic guitar and a mellow house beat as Key sings about longing for the one he loves.
Other Memorable Key Releases: The 1st Album- ‘Face’ [Album]
소나기 (Sudden Shower) ft. 십센치 (10cm) by 용준형 (Yong Junhyung)
Album: 소나기 (Single) | Release: | Listen
Junhyung of Highlight along with Kwon Jung Yeol, the now sole member of 10cm, reminisce on a relationship ended too soon on “Sudden Shower” This mellow Indie R&B song, perfect for spring, reached number 1 on the Naver, Bugs, Genie, Mnet, Soribada, and Olleh charts.
Other Memorable Yong Junhyung Releases: 무슨 말이 필요해 (Go Away)
돗대 (One And Only) by 비아이 (B.I)
Album: Return | Release: January 25, 2018 | Listen
B.I puts a spin on the usual boastful nature of rap by acknowledging his relatively low position on the totem-pole, but taking pride in where he is as well as being confident that his position will soon change. He also raps about his determination to not take the path most traveled, and instead of taking the easy way that his seniors have cleared for him he will be successful in his own way, struggles and all.
Unfortunately, what could have been a great single for B.I is smothered among iKon’s b-sides, the same disservice that was dealt to Jimin of Bangtan Boys with the placement of his “Serendipity” on “Love Yourself 承 ‘Her’.”
북향 (Hemi’s Room) ft. 오혁 (OHHYUK) by 다이나믹 듀오 (Dynamic Duo)
Album: 북향 (Single) | Release: November 12, 2018 | Watch
Gaeko and Choiza who have been on hiatus for three years but for the occasional single are back with Ohhyuk to explore isolation on single “Hemi’s Room.” They hope for someone to come and pull them out of isolation as they detail the experience of only seeing the world through a window that doesn’t even face the sun, sacrificing one’s basic needs like sunshine, human interaction, and food, and despite feeling lonely and frustrated about it are not being able to find the strength or confidence to go out into the world.
Other Memorable Dynamic Duo Releases: 봉제선 ft. 수란 (Suran)
Really by 블랙핑크 (BLACKPINK)
Album: Square Up | Release: June 15, 2018 | Listen
The girls of BLACKPINK want to know all the ways that their significant other loves them on “Really” from their comeback album “Square Up.”
After a frustratingly inactive 2017, thanks to YG, BLACKPINK finally put out music in 2018 and starved fans showed up for the girls. After the release of their single album “Square Up,” lead single “DDU-DU DDU-DU” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at 55, making history by being the highest charting song of any Kpop girl group, the music video broke YouTube’s record for most viewed Korean video in 24 hours.
Other Memorable BLACKPINK Releases: Square Up [Album]
Down by 제시 (Jessi)
Album: Down (Single) | Release: July 6, 2018 | Watch
Jessi’s goal with “Down” was “Breaking Korea’s societal norms.” Jessi simply existing and being her authentic self, having darker skin than most, being open about plastic surgery, being a rapper, right down to her voice being raspy and the way she speaks, and doing and being all that while being as successful as she is, is doing enough to break Korea’s societal norms. She chose to take it a step further by bringing some very American elements to her video, and embracing her sexiness and sexuality.
“Down” as a song is great, perfect for summer. The added challenge of what society deems acceptable takes it from great to excellent.
Other Memorable Jessi Releases: All I Need, 젖어‘S (Wet)
Man In The Suit by 비와이 (BewhY)
Album: Suits | Release: May 2, 2018 | Listen
“Man In The Suit” is on of the two songs BewhY did for the Korean remake of American drama “Suits.“ It’s got the elements of a signature BewhY song, his unique base heavy instrumental and a reference to Christianity and his devotion.
Other Memorable BewhY Releases: Suit Up
Jump by 샤이니 (SHINee)
Album: The 6th Album- ‘The Story of Light’ Ep. 1 | Release: May 28, 2018 | Listen
If I could put every song from the album on this list I would. Without a doubt this group released the best album of 2018. “The Story Of Light,” was a cohesive exploration of Electronica and House music, genres SHINee has excelled at in the past. In addition, the singles stood up in quality to the b-sides and visa versa.
On “Jump,” a song from the first part of their three part album, SHINee delivers on the harmonies we love as they sing about new found freedom set to a funky bass that swells in and out of the song.
떠나보낼수없어 (I Can’t Let You Go) ft. 스페이스 카우보이 (Space Cowboy) by 뮤지 (Muzie)
Album: New Wave City | Release: March 12, 2018 | Listen
Muzie channels the 80s synth pop and electronic music, what he does best, for his love song “I Can’t Let You Go” featuring Space Cowboy. In 2018, with his album “New Wave City” and collaborations with Killagramz, Muzie has broken out of the comedy music he is known for as a member of UV while still remaining true to his strengths in retro style music.
Other Memorable Muzie Releases: New Wave City [Album]
위로가 돼요 (Pluhmm) by 핫펠트 (Ha:tfelt)
Album: Deine | Release: April 18, 2018 | Listen
Ha:tfelt kept proving that her move to Amoeba Culture was a brilliant one with the release of her single album “Deine,” meaning yours in German, a follow up to her 1st single album “MEiNE.”
On “위로가 돼요 (Pluhmm),” a sensual song with a hint of Latin influences, Ha:tfelt explores the relationship with someone once you’ve slept together. She gets bold and flirts while being direct about the topic with lines like “Hey, should we speak more informally now? You can just call me YeEun.” This song is mature and daring of a former top idol.
Other Memorable Ha:tfelt Releases: Cigar
All Day All Night by 샤이니 (SHINee)
Album: The 6th Album- ‘The Story of Light’ Ep. 1 | Release: May 28, 2018 | Listen
“All Day All Night” starts “The Story Of Light” off with a punch. The instrumental is loud and busy, but SHINee’s voice penetrates through the noise, symbolic of the lyrics about shouting about their love to the world.
차가워 (Give It To Me) ft. 뮤지 (Muzie), 인크레더블 (Incredivle) & 데비 (Debi) by 킬라그램 (Killagramz)
Album: Princess | Release: February 24, 2018 | Listen
Killagramz pays tribute to this favourite Disney Princesses with his mini album “Princess.” “Give It To Me” is the New Jack Swing homage to Elsa and the 80s about a person who seems cold but is actual warm on the inside, and features Muzie, Incredivle and Debi.
Other Memorable Killagramz Releases: Princess [Album]
느낌 (Feel) by 트리플 H (Triple H)
Album: Retro Futurism | Release: July 18, 2018 | Listen
Triple H a unit group made up of HyunA and E’Dawn (formerly) and Hui of Pentagon, made their second and unfortunately last comeback with mini album “Retro Futurism.” After HyunA and E’Dawn admitted to dating their label, CUBE Entertainment, terminated their contracts. After public criticism the label agreed to renegotiate, but HyunA and E’Dawn ultimately they left the label, and the two have been challenging society standards and dating quite publicly, a huge taboo for idols.
On “Feel” Triple H stand up in their care free attitude. They call out public critique of idols with lines like “They say entertainers are stupid, not true. The foolish me is busy with work,” emphasizing that at the end of the day this is a job and they should be able to live life as they please.
Other Memorable Triple H Releases: Retro Futurism [Album]
Something New by 태연 (Taeyeon)
Album: The 3rd Mini Album- ‘Something New’ | Release: | Listen
Taeyeon gives Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” tease in the beginning of “Something New” before bursting into a jazzy Pop song with a groovy bass. She sings about people’s need to be like everyone else, and constantly be something new, encouraging listeners to revel in the thing that makes them unique and to share that with the world, to “fill the world with your favorite colors.”
Other Memorable Taeyeon Releases: 바람 바람 바람 (Baram x3), 너의 생일 (One Day)
왠지 (Time) by 신세하 (Xin Seha)
Album: 왠지 (Single) | Release: | Listen | One To Watch
Xin Seha debuted back in 2017 with single “Touch,” and has released three albums since then. This year he caught my attention with his collaboration with Sumin on her song “Your Home.” His song “Time” draws from 80s rock and New Wave music.