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
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