10. SOLO, Jennie View this video on YouTube YG Entertainment / Via YouTube I initially didn’t have this song on my list, but then it grew on me so much in the last few weeks that I had to squeeze it in. There’s no doubt that it’s a remarkable debut track for a solo artist even if the solo artist happens to be a member of one of the world’s biggest girl groups. Tbh, it’s exactly the kind of track I’d have expected Jennie to drop - sassy, savage and sexy. Can’t wait for the solo debuts of Lisa, Rosé and Jisoo and where’s that BLACKPINK full album again? *crosses fingers for news of a comeback* 9. POP/STARS, K/DA View this video on YouTube Riot Games / Via YouTube I know I’m taking liberties by classifying this song as k-pop but you know what, I don’t care. To me, K/DA as a project symbolizes the future of entertainment, as it’s a culmination of so many of the things that capture the attentions of millions around the world. For those of you who don’t know, POP/STARS is the lead single of the world’s first virtual girl group, made up of four avatars from League of Legends and given life to by Miyeon and Soyeon of (G)I-DLE, and American singers Madison Beer and Jaira Burns. The music video which was released only a few days before the song’s first live performance at the League of Legends World Championship opening ceremony held in Incheon, went viral and accumulated millions of views in no time at all. The magnitude of success that K/DA has received has convinced me that we’re witnessing the birth of a new genre of entertainment, a hyper-entertainment of sorts. 8. Airplane pt.2, BTS, Love Yourself: Tear View this video on YouTube BigHit Entertainment / Via YouTube I tried to stick to singles on this list but I couldn’t imagine not including this song as it’s literally the reason I’m even writing this list. I didn’t really know much about k-pop until I saw BTS perform this on the Ellen Show and the rest is history. Apart from it being my first exposure to k-pop though, I do think that Airplane pt.2 is a musical masterpiece. 2018 was so characteristic for k-pop in terms of so many groups trying to experiment with Latin music (SuJu with Lo Siento & One More Time/GOT7 with Lullaby/Mamamoo with Egotistic) but none managed to do it as well as BTS did with this track. Co-written by Ali Tamposi who also had a hand in writing Camila Cabello’s Havana (aka the best Latin-inspired song of all time) and BTS’s RM and J-hope, the song is a sequel to a track from J-hope’s mixtape Hope World released earlier in 2018 and talks about the group’s successes, how far they’ve come, and how they’re only going higher up. 7. BOOMERANG, Wanna One, 0+1=1 (I Promise You) View this video on YouTube Stone Music Entertainment / Via YouTube I think I can safely say that everyone expected Wanna One to have a great year, but no one expected the kind of popular and critical acclaim they actually did end up receiving. And they deserved every single bit of it. Their several comebacks have managed to all be markedly different from each other, and have showcased each member’s strengths in the best fashion. But their “I Promise You” EP tends to stand a notch above the rest when viewed in retrospect, primarily due to the ingenuity of its lead single. BOOMERANG is one of those songs that is so refreshingly unlike anything else that’s being released that you can’t help but fall in love with it. The exotic electro-hop sound of BOOMERANG is one that Wanna One will always be remembered for apart from their breathtaking visuals, insane fan service and spot-on moves. I miss them so much! Wannable forever <3 6. BOSS, NCT U, NCT 2018 Empathy View this video on YouTube SM Entertainment / Via YouTube Where do I even begin? This is the song that really led to my discovery of k-pop groups other than BTS. The bass-heavy beat accompanied by the finger snaps and chant-like vocals really make for something unique and I’ve realized NCT sounds the best when they sound unique. The MV is absolutely gorgeous, filled with swooping shoots of Ukraine’s cityscapes and of the boys nailing the sick choreo (honestly, how is everyone in this group such a rad dancer?). I just hope NCT gives us more tracks like this one in 2019. 5. What Is Love?, TWICE, What is Love? View this video on YouTube JYP Entertainment / Via YouTube In this light-hearted yet soulful track, Twice poses forth one of the most frequently pondered about questions that has plagued mankind - what in fact is love really? The lyrics read like the personal journal entries of a lovelorn teenager and the MV feels like the wistful daydreams of one. Like we’ve come to expect from every Twice release, the song is an absolute bop which will stick to the insides of your brain like chewing gum and have you listening to the track way more than just twice. Also, I do have a soft corner for Hollywood recreations and the MV contains portrayals of iconic scenes from some of my all time favorite love stories. They had me at La La Land tbh. 4. Bad Boy, Red Velvet, The Perfect Red Velvet View this video on YouTube SM Entertainment / Via YouTube This one isn’t surprising at all, considering the production credits of this track read like the Who’s Who of the Recording Academy’s Hall of Fame - Maxx Song, Whitney Philips, and the Stereotypes (who recently took home 2 Grammys for Bruno Mars’ That’s What I Like). The dichotomy of Red Velvet as a girl group never ceases to amaze me as they seem to effortlessly belt out extremely sensual and groovy R&B tracks like this one while dropping candy pop summer bops like Red Flavor and Power Up at the same time. It must be said though that it is only with “Bad Boy” that Red Velvet has really managed to flesh out the latter half of their name. One of the most musically layered songs I’ve heard in months coupled with the scintillating visuals of snowy landscapes and dark smoky chambers that the music video is filled with make for the best girl group K-pop release of the year. 3. KILLING ME, iKON, New Kids: Continue View this video on YouTube YG Entertainment / Via YouTube The k-pop dance track of the year, Killing Me is the emo goth sister of iKON’s earlier chart-shattering release of 2018 - LOVE SCENARIO - describing the dark twisted effects of a bad break-up on the half of the relationship that hasn’t been able to move on. Seductive and smooth until the dance break, the song suddenly dives into the littest (for want of a better word) EDM drop I’ve heard in a while, replete with high pitched synths and modulated vocal chops. The aesthetic of the music video is absolute goals (think EXO’s Monster/NCT U’s The 7th Sense) and the choreography is totally irresistible (made me get up and learn it right away). 2. FAKE LOVE, BTS, Love Yourself: Tear View this video on YouTube BigHit Entertainment / Via YouTube This song is a broken record just because of the number of records it has broken (and of course, also because of the number of hours I’ve spent hearing it on repeat). Not only did it become the first K-pop group song to chart in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, but the momentum of the song’s success propelled Love Yourself: Tear to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (making it the first foreign language album to do so in 12 years) and in doing so thrust BTS - and the entire k-pop industry tbh - into international limelight. Suga mentioned in an interview that the lead single of every album is always the hardest to produce because there’s so much pressure on it to be amazing. But this one felt different and he knew it would be a stunner the first time he heard it. And I feel the same way about it. It’s so effortlessly beautiful and simple and complex at the same time, and does such an amazing job at portraying the overarching theme of Love Yourself: Tear. And although I’m a relatively new ARMY, I feel immense pride watching this masterpiece of a MV and acknowledging that it is in all ways comparable if not better than the stuff produced by the top notch music studios of California and New York. Finally, Asians are an integral part of, if not leading, the conversation on musical innovation. 1. LOVE SCENARIO, iKON, RETURN View this video on YouTube YG Entertainment / Via YouTube What a year for iKON 2018 was. Song of the year, imho (no shade intended to Onces or any other fandom out there). Songs that have the kind of impact this one did only tend to come around once in a while. And honestly, it isn’t hard to understand why. The track contains such a beautiful thank-u-next esque message of learning from one’s failed relationships and holding those memories close because they all represent tiny bits and pieces of our lives and souls and make us who we are. B. I. is the Korean songwriter of his generation (I said what I said) and this time he’s really churned out a masterpiece. The track became the first release of 2018 to achieve a perfect all-kill and is iKON’s most successful song to date by far. Also, the song was so irresistibly catchy and had such a widespread appeal that it was literally banned in schools because kids wouldn’t stop singing it. Also, the video is so beautifully shot with brilliant edits and cuts and I’ve seen it at least 50 times if I’ve seen it once. Don’t believe me? Take a listen for yourself.