Hey, guys! It’s been a while. It feels like I’m only posting when something awful has happened lately, but not today! I got in this crazy blogging mood, so I decided to ride that wave. Therefore, starting with this one, you can expect a whole slew of posts coming up, all of them concerning the kpop released during 2018. This first one will count down the 14 kpop artists who contributed most to my music library during the past year, i.e. the ones I’ve downloaded the most songs from.
So, I went through all the songs I’ve downloaded from 2018 and compiled this list. Of course, artists who had tons of comebacks during the year will benefit from that, as they’ve had more chances to impress me, and these are not necessarily the artists I think have done the best during the year. (Look forward to the posts after this one to see my favorite songs.) In those cases when I had downloaded the same amount of songs from two (or more) artists, the one whose songs I liked better is ranked higher on this list. Also, sub-unit and solo songs are counted towards a group’s total.
14. The East Light
The East Light were (sadly) a lovely group. So young, so talented, so sweet. I just found out that they have disbanded, following allegations of physical and mental abuse against the members by a producer, while the CEO did nothing about it. It’s a horrid story, and I’m glad they boys are free of it. Hopefully they’ll be able to reunite under a decent label, if that’s something they would want.
However, the group was very active during the year and I definitely enjoyed what I saw, especially their boppier sounds, like in “Love Flutters”.
(Including solo work by Lee Hong Ki)
I like FTIsland, generally. They are definitely still one of the best kpop bands, even though the youth may have moved on to younger and hipper iterations. Lee Hong Ki was very active as a solo artist this year, and that especially stood out to me. His song “I Am” is especially fun, and the group’s song “Summer Night’s Dream” is great.
(Including solo work by Nam Woo Hyun and Kim Sung Kyu)
Infinite can at times be one of the best kpop groups out there, but I wasn’t entirely sold on their group work this year. I eventually grew to kind of like “Tell Me”, as the strong chorus won me over, but it does not live up to how good some of their older songs are. My favorite song from the group this year was actually Kim Sung Kyu’s solo song “True Love”. Sung Kyu is a lovely singer, and that song is so gorgeous.
(Including BTOB-BLUE and solo work by Jung Il Hoon)
BTOB are always great. Always. And so again are they this year. However, they were massively overshadowed by Il Hoon’s “She’s Gone”. That song blows my mind and it’s for sure one of my favorite songs of the year.
(NCT U and NCT 127)
I’m so mad about NCT. SM told me (yes, me personally) that this would be a group where the sub-units would have set concepts but the members would rotate. So, NCT Dream would always be cute, and if they wanted a certain member to be cute, they’d put him in that unit for the comeback. However, that is not what they’re doing. This year, NCT 127 released the very cute “Touch” and NCT Dream released the not cute at all “Go” and “We Go Up”. So, what the hell. What’s the point. Sigh.
Anyway, besides that, NCT did release some songs I really liked this year. NCT U has always been my favorite unit, and so they have stayed this year. I love “Boss”, but I LOVE “Baby Don’t Stop”. This was the first year I at all enjoyed NCT127 since I enjoyed both “Simon Says” and “Regular” (though only the Korean version”. I didn’t really fall for the stuff NCT Dream put out this year though, even though I loved what they did last year.
(Including duet with Yesung and collaboration with Soyeon, SinB and Seulgi)
I have been very fond of Chungha ever since the first season of Produce 101, and I am very pleased that she became a solo artist, as I think a group would only have dulled her shine. I really liked the stuff Chungha provided us with this year, both her collaborations with other idols, but especially the songs she put out on her own. “Roller coaster” especially has been a staple in my headphones.
8. Super Junior
(Including Super Junior D&E and Yesung’s duet with Chungha)
Super Junior really stepped up this year. Their turn into the latin sounds is not only musically delicious, but also brilliant from a marketing perspective. As far as I understand it, there are a tons of kpop fans in Latin America, and Super Junior were the first to hold concerts there. So, by turning to a key market of theirs they have made themselves relevant again, which makes me very happy. Also, latin sounds + kpop = amazing.
7. Stray Kids
Honestly, I haven’t paid much proper attention Stray Kids, but somehow I have still managed to download all of their singles from this year. I was honestly surprised as I was compiling this list, because I truly had no idea. If I had to pick a favorite release from the year I think it would have to be “Grow Up” which seemed sweet, lovely and I was gonna say age appropriate, but then I found out the youngest member is almost 18 and the oldest is my age, so oh well.
(Including solo work by J-Hope)
BTS are very good, as the whole world has realize. Honestly, this sounds bad, but the hype is kind of turning me off. Which is not at all fair, because the boys are still nothing but lovely. I just have to remember them as the group I saw live 4.5 years ago. To be completely honest, I do not love the turn BTS’ music have taken since their big international break. I was not very fond of “DNA” and while “Fake Love” has gorgeous choreography, I do not love the song. I do love “Idol” however! That is just some good goddamn fun, and we all need that. I also really enjoyed J-Hope’s solo work, I think that was excellently done.
5. Girls’ Generation
(Including solo work by HYO, Yuri and Taeyeon)
I really do not know if one should consider Oh!GG a sub-unit or not. I mean, will the other three members ever return? I have a slight feeling they will not, and therefore I find it odd to see the remaining members promoting under a sub-unit name. Oh well, either way “Lil Touch” is an amazing song. I’ve also really enjoyed the solo work by HYO, Yuri and Taeyeon. Taeyeon is becoming one of my absolute favorite solo artists, and the other two are not too far behind.
I am very impressed with how well Girls Generation have coped with losing Jessica a few years ago and now Tiffany and Seohyun more recently, all of which were central vocalists to the group. Honestly, I wasn’t sure that the group had enough vocal power left to sound good, even with Taeyeon still around. However, I was wrong about that. I am especially impressed with Sunny, who is finally getting to shine.
(Including solo work by all members)
Mamamoo are goddamn queens and we all know that. Their sound this year was lovely, in all the turns it took, and while I wasn’t super obsessed with their individual solo work, it was still quite nice. My favorite song from them as a group would have to be “Starry Night”, though “Egotistic” is also amazing. From them as solo artists my favorites are Wheein’s “Easy” and Solar’s “Where the Wind Rises”, which is just so goddamn pretty.
(Including solo work by all members)
The reason why GOT7 are so high on this list are not that I was obsessed with their music this year (even though I did like “Lullaby” more than any single they’ve released the last 3-4 years), but because I kinda sorta liked all the solo songs they released together with “Lullaby”. And since there were so many of them that puts them up here. GOT7 are alright.
(Including solo work by Onew and Key)
Jonghyun was my absolute favorite celebrity in the whole world, for almost a decade. However, even without him, SHINee is still my favorite group, and, I guess, now they’re all my ultimate bias (since I used to put all four of them at number 2). I loved the songs SHINee released this year. All amazing. I’m very happy to see Onew and Key debut solo, and while I haven’t 100% fallen for those songs yet (I’m not huge into ballads, and I haven’t had time to listen to Key’s songs much yet) I am happy with those two. SHINee will continue, even without our beautiful angel, to be the best group in kpop.
(Including EXO-CBX, Lay’s solo work, Chanyeol & Sehun’s collaboration and Baekhyun’s collaboration with Loco)
EXO have an unfair advantage compared to the other groups on this list, because they’re the only group where I took the time to sit down and listen to an entire album this year (“Don’t Mess Up My Tempo” – which was good). I know, I know, that’s really bad. Fake fan, all that. I guess that’s the joy of thesis writing. I like “Tempo” and “Love Shot” is even better, but my favorite single from EXO this year would have to be the sub-unit EXO-CBX’s “Blooming Day”. That sub-unit is just so expertly put together I can’t stand it.
Stay tuned for more 2018 kpop posts coming soon!