Client: Dazed (2018)
BTS kicking down America’s door remains the peak of K-pop’s globalisation, but the trickle-down effect has been noticeable, too. This year, we’ve seen a renewed focus on the west, with artists including NCT, Girls’ Generation’s HYO, and MONSTA X all releasing English versions of their songs. It’s also become more common to see artists plan world tours – and not just the biggest idol groups, but also hip hop, R&B, and rock acts too.
As these acts drew fresh, curious eyes, 2018 also saw an uptick in music quality. Over the past few years, K-pop’s trend-chasing had gotten out of control, resulting in a somewhat identikit musical landscape, and while tropical house, trap, and Latin sounds are still popular, producers are consciously refining and redefining those sounds. Elsewhere, a clutch of debuting groups swung the bat hard, and there were a number of solid solo releases (like CHUNGHA, Holland and Kim Dong Han) and big songs from the likes of LOONA and Twice that must be mentioned.
Our annual rundown of the year’s best K-pop songs is limited to one track per artist or group, and – given the genre’s focus on unified music and visuals – takes into consideration both the song and its MV (music video). Here’s our dive into the year in K-pop.