The best K-pop songs of 2022 take a journey through girl group dominance, flashy modes and inspiring men, memories of the past and visions of the future.

As we’ve written in the past, K-pop is not a single genre – in the same way that American pop encompasses a variety of artists and voices, so does K-pop. Slow and whispery, intergalactic and frenzied, five songs crammed into a monologue or ballad make for a very touching and plaintive cry.

In its third year on this Best K-Pop list, 79 journalists and critics have chosen the songs that speak to them and the world around them. Some have listed the bombastic side of what sounds like a K-pop genre mash-up. Others celebrated the breakout year’s breakout 4th-generation girl groups that dominated the charts and playlists this year. Still others highlighted the indie creators and B-sides that added depth and dynamism to Korean pop music that will last for years to come. What a time to be alive.

Below, find the best K-pop songs of 2022 in no particular order, subscribe to your favorites, and pick a new song or two to add to your rotation.

Newgens, “Hype Boy.”

Surprise drops are rare in K-pop, and even more surprising are group debuts. Newgens, the first girl group under HYBE’s sub ADOR, pulled the strings with a cool mid-2000s style sound. It is stuck in the suburbsIn a year when new girl groups were already taking over – esque mirage. As July fades into August, we’re introduced to NewJeans through seven music videos in one week — four of which tell the story of “Hype Boy” in alternating mini-narratives, with the members playing characters who each experience first heartbreak and romance. It was a sweet trick, and Newgen’s dynamic nature was amplified by the song itself – vibey and funky, nostalgic yet fresh, with sick little beats and production vocals. There’s a reason why not everyone can stop listening, and covering the track: “You’re My Chemical Inspiration Boy” has changed something in our collective psyche. P. Claire Dodson, Senior entertainment editor In Tin Vogue

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Sai and Suga, “That.”

Come here… it’s the return of the king. In the year The artist responsible for K-pop’s first major American breakthrough in 2012, Psy, aka Park Jaesang, hit Dopamine with a song earlier this year. Psy saunters through the lounge doors to “Ya,” a funky, trot-influenced bop and post-lockdown celebration, produced by BTS’s Suga. The accompanying music video is one of the most memorable of 2022, with dark “Gangnam Style” era psy, stuntman Suga jumping into a rap battle with eagle screams, and some truly relentless choreography. Psy never lost it, but “that” proves why he’s an industry icon. Katie Gohcultural journalist

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