Billboard has joined the list of many publications to release their choices for the best K-Pop albums of 2022! Chosen by a couple different staff members, including well-known K-Pop journalist Jeff Benjamin, the list of 25 K-Pop albums they chose as the best of the previous year is definitely diverse and enjoyable. Here are Billboard’s choices for the best 25 K-Pop albums from 2022, ranked in order!
25. The Second Step: Chapter One by TREASURE
The Second Step: Chapter One was released on February 15 with the title track “JIKJIN”, and sold a total of 811k copies.
While “JIKJIN” leaned into the group’s high-flying performance style (particularly on the final chorus), a TikTok trend utilizing a sped-up version of “DARARI” helped the track debut on Billboard Global 200 even without a music video or proper single push.
24. Sequence by Cosmic Girls (WJSN)
Sequence was released on July 5 with the title track “Last Sequence”, and sold a total of 182k copies.
Lead single “Last Sequence” delivers the glossy, sophisticated synth-pop the ladies are known for in one of their catchiest earworms, while “Done” turns them into dancefloor divas with an empowering message: ‘‘Cause I love myself, I love my body…/ Don’t touch my mind.’
23. Dimension : Answer by ENHYPEN
Dimension : Answer was released on January 10 with the title track “Blessed-Cursed” and sold a total of 771k copies.
Lead single “Blessed-Cursed” produced one of the group’s most ambitious singles to date with its blend of ’70s hard rock and modern hip-hop poured over Post Malone-esque deliveries.
22. The Earth : Secret Mission Chapter.2 by MCND
The Earth : Secret Mission Chapter.2 was released on July 7 with the title track “#Mood” and sold a total of 17.7k copies.
Once they revealed lead single “#MOOD” (written by leader and main rapper Castle J), MCND proved their evolution with expanded genre offerings (“Back to You” is an unexpected piano ballad, also written by Castle J) while honoring their roots and core message to one day achieve greatness.
21. YOUNG-LUV.COM by STAYC
YOUNG-LUV.COM was released on February 21 with the title track “RUN2U” and sold a total of 247k copies.
While theirEP included yet another earworm with the surging, bubblegum-pop single “RUN2U,” tracks like the stunning mid-tempo “Young Luv” (which lets the members’ vocals shine their brightest yet), as well as slinky R&B numbers like “Same Same” and “Butterfly,” laid the groundwork for STAYC to show far more than radio-ready hits.
20. It’s Me, It’s We by TEMPEST
It’s Me, It’s We was released on March 2 with the title track “Bad News” and sold a total of 97.5k copies.
The septet’s first single, “Bad News,” brought feel-good pop with a playful, hip-hop twist, reminiscent of the early days of K-Pop superstars like Block B and SEVENTEEN.
19. BORN PINK by BLACKPINK
BORN PINK was released on September 16 with the title track “Shut Down” and sold a total of 2.58 million copies.
But instead of giving BLINKs more of the same, Jisoo, Rosé, Jennie and Lisa subverted expectations for what a sophomore album could be by filling Born Pink with a devastating, career-defining ballad (“The Happiest Girl”), a surprise solo track (Rosé’s “Hard to Love”) and a previously unreleased fan favorite cut (“Ready for Love”) amid bangers like “Pink Venom,” “Shut Down” and “Typa Girl.”
18. Color by Kwon Eunbi
Color was released on April 4 with the title track “Glitch” and sold a total of 57.9k copies.
Lead single “Glitch,” alongside tracks like “Magnetic” and “Colors,” take sharp, unexpected musical turns (particularly during the final minute of the former) that Kwon navigates like a pro.
17. Devil by Max Changmin
Devil was released on January 13 with the title track “Devil” and sold a total of 34.9k copies.
Throughout the lavish, six-song set, Changmin commands listeners from beginning to end with his pure vocal talent. His powerful, sonorous four-octave range — which can move seamlessly between throaty belts and breathy falsettos across multiple genres — tackles hypnotic R&B on lead single “Devil,” explosive pop-rock on “Manic,” as well as smooth slow jams on “Airplane Mode.”
16. Real Love by OH MY GIRL
Real Love was released on March 28 with the title track “Real Love” and sold a total of 96.9k copies.
The best songs are the most experimental: “Eden” is one half-acoustic ballad and another half of glitched-out vocal drops, while their girl-group harmonies dance over the drum-and-bass track “Kiss & Fix”.
15. New Jeans by NewJeans
New Jeans was released on August 1 with the title tracks “Attention”, “Hype Boy”, and “Cookie”, and sold a total of 680k copies.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a collection of songs that all scream ‘hit’ as much as NewJeans’ debut EP.
14. ‘OK’ Episode 1: OK Not by CIX
‘OK’ Episode 1: OK Not was released on August 22 with the title track “458” and sold a total of 99.7k copies.
Even with CIX being down in their feelings, like on the heartfelt rock-pop anthems “Without You” and “Drown in Luv,” the group still sounds so good and so in-sync with a true knack for finding quality pop tracks to best share their stories.
13. I Never Die by (G)I-DLE
I Never Die was released on March 14 with the title track “TOMBOY” and sold a total of 255k copies.
Beyond excellent comeback single “TOMBOY,” (G)I-DLE had to prove the K-Pop girl group was back and bolder than ever. “Never Stop Me” showed range, “Already” messaged their resilience to move forward with no regrets, while “Polaroid” illuminated a more tender side of the quintet.
12. Im Hero by Lim Youngwoong
Im Hero was released on May 2 with the title track “If We Ever Meet Again” and sold a total of 1.14 million copies.
Crucially, Lim’s first full-length does not see the singer staying only in his trot lane, but hitting a range of genres: there are moving ballads (like the singles “If We Ever Meet Again” and “Our Blues, Our Life,” plus tearjerker “Father”), rock-pop songs (the anthemic “Rainbow” and raw, acoustic “I Love You”), jazz (the moving “Lovely Touch”) and even reggae (the unexpected Auto-Tune treat “A bientot”).
11. Jack in the Box by J-Hope
Jack in the Box was released on July 15 with the title track “MORE” and sold a total of 542k copies.
But his first proper solo album, Jack in the Box, unveiled an entirely new side of the star—a darker and more reflective one. Under the umbrella theme of its title, the LP lets the rapper-singer open up from “Pandora’s Box” for a cohesive sound and story about what moves him internally.
10. Daydream by HIGHLIGHT
Daydream was released on March 21 with the title track “Daydream” and sold a total of 91.8k copies.
As HIGHLIGHT‘s first full-length album since changing their name from BEAST, the 10-song project displays the kind of sophistication only true K-Pop veterans can achieve on this effortless and timeless set.
9. The World EP.1: Movement by ATEEZ
The World EP.1: Movement was released on July 29 with the title track “Guerrilla” and sold a total of 1.00 million copies.
The EP elevates the band’s hard-hitting hip-hop with new electronic influences and heavy synth-pop sounds, kickstarting a new musical era for the boy band. The entire project sounds like it could soundtrack a futuristic action movie as the band sings about looking for truth and finding themselves through tracks that read like different chapters of an epic movie saga: “Sector 1,” “Cyberpunk,” “WDIG (Where Do I Go)” and “New World.”
8. Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child by TXT
Minisode 1: Thursday’s Child was released on May 9 with the title track “Good Boy Gone Bad” and sold a total of 1.79 million copies.
“Good Boy Gone Bad” sees razor-edged guitar licks rubbing up against melodic “whoa-WHOA”s, “Thursday’s Child Has Far to Go” evokes the lonely but pulsating synths of the ‘80s, while tracks like “Trust Fund Baby” and “Lonely Boy (The tattoo on my ring finger)” show off their introspective side.
7. 28 Reasons by Seulgi
28 Reasons was released on October 4 with the title track “28 Reasons” and sold a total of 241k copies.
The EP sees the 28-year-old playing with darker and more mature themes on its title track and the vocally demanding “Dead Man Runnin’”. She outshines featured guest BE’O on bouncy R&B collab “Bad Boy, Sad Girl” and embraces her inner dance diva for the thumping “Anywhere But Home”.
6. Sector 17 by SEVENTEEN
Sector 17 was released on July 18 with the title track “28 Reasons” and sold a total of 1.70 million copies.
On the studio set, the 13-piece boy band shows their devotion on English-language single “Darl+ing,” turns up the heat with the bouncing “HOT,” and leans into their swagger on “CHEERS,” performed by S.Coups, Woozi and Hoshi as the ‘SVT Leaders’, who put their versatility to the test and coming through with flying colors.
5. Glitch Mode by NCT DREAM
Glitch Mode was released on March 28 with the title track “Glitch Mode” and sold a total of 2.10 million copies.
Introduced via its futuristic and fun title track, Glitch Mode delivers songs that always feel like a preview of what’s next in K-Pop while bringing moments of youthful brightness and nostalgic memories.
4. Undo by HEIZE
Undo was released on June 30 with the title track “Undo” and sold a total of 1.1k copies.
Opening with the disco-lite title track, the first half of the LP lets the soulful star play with a range of uptempo beats and guest stars that complement her unmistakable, raspy timbre, including I.M of MONSTA X, Minnie of (G)I-DLE, and Giriboy. Meanwhile, the second half lets HEIZE take on the spotlight for some of her most introspective work yet, which takes us through a journey of shifting emotions and soundscapes.
3. Error by Lee Chanhyuk
Error was released on October 17 with the title track “Panorama” and sold a total of 3.4k copies.
While Chanhyuk has crafted some of K-Pop’s biggest chart hits as one half of the folk-pop duo AKMU with his sister Suhyun (the acoustic-guitar number “Castle in the Sky” recalls their classic sound), on Error, it feels like a genuinely new artist has arrived.
2. ODDINARY by Stray Kids
ODDINARY was released on March 18 with the title track “MANIAC” and sold a total of 1.75 million copies.
Stray Kids have always had significant messages in their music, but ODDINARY sounds like a SKZ more secure in themselves than ever: the ambition and experimentation of songs like “MANIAC” and blitzing trap opener “Venom” are balanced by ODDINARY‘s more subtle unit tracks.
1. Indigo by RM
Indigo was released on December 2 with the title track “Wild Flower” and sold a total of 717k copies.
RM captured the essence of his twenties in the 10 tracks on Indigo, but this 32-minute journey touches far beyond one person’s experience. Like good art, Indigo speaks to ideas and messages that are complicated to put into everyday words, but just listening to the music lets it all come to the surface.