With the end of 2022 fast approaching, it seems that every popular entertainment publication has been releasing lists of their top K-Pop releases of the year. And British brand NME (New Musical Express) is among those who are! Unlike most other year-end best lists, NME not only listed their 25 best K-Pop songs, but they are ranked from 25th to a definitive 1st rather than having the songs in no particular order. Here are their 25 best K-Pop songs from 2022, according to this list!
25. “Guerrilla” by ATEEZ
“Guerrilla” was released on July 29 on ATEEZ’s The World EP.1: Movement album.
Best bit: Jongho just going off with his vocals at the end of each chorus.
24. “MANIAC” by Stray Kids
“MANIAC” was released on March 18 on Stray Kids’ ODDINARY album.
Best bit: The first chorus where Felix’s guttural voice transitions to Hyunjin’s razor-sharp tone, piercing over Bang Chan’s delightful ad libs.
23. “Sexy Nukim” by Balming Tiger (ft. RM)
“Sexy Nukim” was released on September 1 as a digital single.
Best bit: RM’s witty songwriting seriously shines through in his brief verse; he harmonises with a line in Omega Sapien’s previous verse (‘how you doin’ boy?’) by bending and distorting the words to punctuate his delivery (‘what you doin’ boy?’).
22. “POP!” by Nayeon
“POP!” was released on June 24 on Nayeon’s IM NAYEON album.
Best bit: When that final chorus hits, somehow more effervescent and spectacular than any time before.
21. “FEARLESS” by LE SSERAFIM
“FEARLESS” was released on May 2 on LE SSERAFIM’s FEARLESS album.
Best bit: If ‘Bam, ba-ba-ba-bam-bam’ doesn’t get stuck in your head, you are lying.
20. “Shadow” by SEVENTEEN
“Shadow” was released on May 27 on SEVENTEEN’s Face The Sun album.
Best bit: Mingyu and S.Coups’ raspy hand-off on the bridge, before Dino bowls us over like a torrential wave.
19. “Super Yuppers!” by WJSN Chocome
“Super Yuppers!” was released on January 5 on WJSN Chocome’s Super Yuppers! album.
Best bit: Dayoung’s peppy introduction in the beginning of the song, which quickly segues into colourful synths that Orange Caramel would be proud of.
18. “Polaroid Love” by ENHYPEN
“Polaroid Love” was released on January 10 on ENHYPEN’s Dimension: Answer album.
Best bit: The first pre-chorus, delivered in a sickly sweet falsetto by Heeseung and Sunoo, that oozes with an unmistakable earnestness, which culminates in the syrupy, by now totally familiar chorus.
17. “Illusion” by aespa
“Illusion” was released on June 1 on as a pre-release single for aespa’s Girls album.
Best bit: Karina and Winter’s gorgeous harmonisation on the bridge’s climactic high note. Also, the slurps.
16. “Another Life” by Key
“Another Life” was released on August 30 on Key’s Gasoline album.
Best bit: Key’s transition from cooing in the chorus to a punchy rap verse – just one of the moments that cement him as one of K-Pop’s GOATs.
15. “Color Me” by Junny (ft. Chungha)
“Color Me” was released on June 23 as a digital single.
Best bit: The refrain, which showcases Junny’s rich, textured tones.
14. “Panorama” by Lee Chanhyuk
“Panorama” was released on October 17 on Chanhyuk’s Error album.
Best bit: The beautifully timed synth arrangement on the chorus – when combined with the beats, it feels like being shocked back to life. Message received, Chanhyuk.
13. “Heart Burn” by Sunmi
“Heart Burn” was released on June 29 as a digital single.
Best bit: The post-chorus refrain, where the looping melody is backed by Sunmi’s poignant accompaniments of ‘Ae yo, ae yo’.
12. “Thursday’s Child Has Far To Go” by TXT
“Thursday’s Child Has Far To Go” was released on May 9 on TXT’s Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child album.
Best bit: Taehyun’s raw, feverish declaration of ‘it’s tougher than the road I’ve come’ in the bridge.
11. “Impurities” by LE SSERAFIM
“Impurities” was released on October 17 on LE SSERAFIM’s Antifragile album.
Best bit: Aside from the fact that it lacks a single weakness? The seamless vocal fluidity of the chorus ramping up to a vibey bridge.
10. “Generation” by tripleS’s Acid Angel from Asia
“Generation” was released on October 22 on Acud Angel from Asia’s Access album.
Best bit: The la-la-la’s, which we will be humming until the end of time.
9. “Cyberpunk” by ATEEZ
“Cyberpunk” was released on July 29 on ATEEZ’s The World EP.1: Movement album.
Best bit: The odd but sticky melody in the chorus before Jongho howls.
8. “GingaMingaYo” by Billlie
“GingaMingaYo” was released on February 23 on Billlie’s The Collective Soul and Unconscious: Chapter One album.
Best bit: We take our hats off every time Moon Sua enters the scene spitting fire.
7. “Attention” by NewJeans
“Attention” was released as a pre-release single on July 22 for NewJeans’ New Jeans album.
Best bit: The layered, dreamy harmonisation when they go ‘You got me looking for attention’.
6. “Love Dive” by IVE
“Love Dive” was released on April 5 on IVE’s Love Dive album.
Best bit: It’s impossible not to chant along to Gaeul and Rei in the pre-chorus when they go ‘Yeah, it’s so bad, it’s good.’
5. “Antifragile” by LE SSERAFIM
“Antifragile” was released on October 17 on LE SSERAFIM’s Antifragile album.
Best bit: Kazuha striding into the second verse and confidently dropping ‘Lovey lovey lovey / Dovey dovey dovey’ – a snippet that continuously keeps pulling you back in for more.
4. “After LIKE” by IVE
“After LIKE” was released on August 22 on IVE’s After LIKE album.
Best bit: Gaeul’s pre-chorus, though the instrumental break is a very close second.
3. “INVU” by Taeyeon
“INVU” was released on February 14 on Taeyeon’s INVU album.
Best bit: The accompanying choreography with the assertive “INVU” chant on the airy chorus.
2. “BTBT” by B.I & Soulja Boy (ft. DeVita)
“BTBT” was released as a pre-release single on May 13 for B.I’s Love or Loved Part.1 album.
Best bit: The slickness in the way B.I transitions from a rhythmic rap in the pre-chorus to the honeyed serenade of the chorus – as expected of a multi-hyphenate as talented as he is.
1. “Hype Boy” by NewJeans
“Hype Boy” was released as a pre-release single on July 23 for NewJeans’ New Jeans album.
Best bit: When the NewJeans members deliver teasing, honeyed vocals over lush R&B beats before belting out passionately in the euphoric chorus.