The world of K-Pop moves at a lightning pace, and 2018 was no exception. With several incredible bops released across the year, we’re rounding up some of our favorites to add to your end-of-year playlist.
Whether you’re hosting a party, or chilling out at home, to welcome in the New Year, adding a few K-Pop songs into your playlist rotation is a must-do. We’ve covered BTS extensively as they continued to take the world by storm in 2018 — and made a few entries into the history books — but we’re going to step out of that sphere and provide you with some more best-of-the-best songs from the K-Pop scene in the last 12 months to enjoy, as 2018 winds down.
(Oh, okay, You got us. There’s going to be some BTS, too.)
So, with that in mind, here are some of our favorite K-Pop songs from 2018, to end your 2018 the right way.
10 great K-Pop songs from 2018 to add to your end-of-year playlist
‘Idol’ — BTS
Call it recency bias, if you must, but when it comes to BTS’ “Idol,” we’re still finding ourselves singing and humming it whenever we get the chance — while grocery shopping, at the gym, doing laundry, washing the dishes, all the time — which is testament to the incredible earworm that it is.
There’s something incredibly empowering about it, like many of BTS’ catalog. But “Idol” takes that one step up. With BTS’ influence on the world stage stepping up a gear, it feels like an incredibly poignant and necessary song to have released about the version we see, versus who they are. And, beyond that, it strikes at the heart of the human condition: there are so many versions of ourselves contained within, and we should be proud of all of them, no matter what others might say.
Of course, there are several options you could add here — anything from Love Yourself: Tear or Love Yourself: Answer will do, really — and I would happily concede that “FAKE LOVE” should be in this spot. But for now? “Idol” is my go-to BTS jam. (Well, other than “MIC Drop,” but that’s a 2017 flashback track.)
‘뚜두뚜두 (DDU-DU DDU-DU)’ — BLACKPINK
I’m certainly not alone in being hyped at BLACKPINK releasing a new EP in 2018 — however short — and I’ve made it a point to play the “DDU-DU DDU-DU” music video for anyone that’ll entertain me for its 3:35 runtime.
Much in the same way that BTS is empowering — actually, K-Pop in general seems to follow that exact theme — “DDU-DU DDU-DU” became something of an anthem for me at the half-way mark of 2018. It kept me motivated in a way I’m not sure I could capture in words. (And, also, instilled in me a desire to own a pink, sparkly, bedazzled tank.)
The entire SQUARE UP EP was fantastic, of course, but it was “DDU-DU DDU-DU” that endured, and became a regular staple on every single K-Pop playlist that I curated from June onwards.
‘What’ — Dreamcatcher
Dreamcatcher, we’ll admit, are something of an acquired taste. However, their blend of metal and pop sets them apart in an interesting way, and “What” ended up securing a firm favorite spot.
Dreamcatcher’s offerings in general are pretty diverse — and for anyone with an eclectic taste, they mix things up enough to keep it interesting — but their mix of strings, a belting chorus, and some excellent rapping elevated this song to another level.
We highly recommend giving them a shot, especially this song, even if it takes you a little out of your K-Pop comfort zone. We promise, you won’t be disappointed.
‘Shine’ — PENTAGON
PENTAGON might be most familiar to people outside of the K-Pop sphere due to the huge controversy that arose when it was revealed that band member E’Dawn and HyunA had been dating for two years. The fallout saw PENTAGON leave their record label, CUBE, and the news centered mostly around that, rather than some of the incredible music they’d released during the year.
“Shine,” however, has endured through the year, and for good reason. The viral dance that accompanied it has definitely helped matters some, of course, but beyond that it was another immediately classic entry in their discography. It’s extremely catchy, and we defy anyone to make it through and not end up singing it for the next few days.
‘Egotistic’ — MAMAMOO
If there’s one thing you can say for K-Pop artists, it’s that they’re never afraid to experiment with different musical genres, sometimes all in the same song. In MAMAMOO’s “Egotistic” that experimentation is on full display, as it starts off with a firmly Latin beat, before throwing a reggae curveball, and then mixing in a little Bollywood styling as well.
Admittedly, a few of the groups on this list edge towards the more iconic “cutsey” side of K-Pop, but if you’re looking for a group that eschews that expectation, look no further than MAMAMOO.
‘Good Evening’ — SHINee
“Good Evening” by SHINee is an emotional entry on this list, for more than one reason. In a year that celebrated 10 years of the group, it was tinged with something bittersweet, due to losing band member Jonghyun in the latter part of 2017. This song was SHINee’s return to the public eye, and it was nothing short of triumphant.
It’s a quieter offering that some of the other songs, and largely flew under the radar, but is no less deserving of being in rotation on an end-of-year playlist. It may even be my favorite K-Pop song of 2018, despite the strong competition.
‘What is Love?’ — TWICE
Are you a fan of classic rom-coms? Well, then do I have a music video to recommend to you! “What is Love?” alone is a fun, cheery song, that is catchy enough to stick in your head for days at a time, but the music video is where it really shines. It takes iconic scenes from several cult-classic movies — from The Princess Diaries, to Ghost, to Romeo + Juliet, to Love Letter — and blends them all together. It gets no less delightful each time that I watch it.
Though I’m also guilty of doing some estimation of dancing in my hallway whenever it comes around on my playlist. What can I say? When you’ve got to dance, you’ve got to dance.
‘Love Scenario’ — iKON
There’s little to no denying that “Love Scenario” was something of a hit for iKON — and one that was a very, very, very long time coming. I’ve enjoyed their music since their debut, but none of their songs had quite hit that same level as other groups on the list, for reasons that continued to escape me.
“Love Scenario” introduced the group to a whole new audience of K-Pop fans — as well as outside of the genre — and for that reason alone, it deserves to take a spot on any playlist. But also? This song is an absolute jam.
‘BBoom BBoom’ — MOMOLAND
I’m not going to apologize for including “BBoom BBoom,” and you can’t make me. Even though I am never getting this song out of my head ever again. It’s definitely one of those songs, what I like to call “Marmite.” You either love it, or you hate it. I fall firmly into the former camp of loving it, but can absolutely understand if it’s not to everyone’s taste. However, it IS a ton of fun, and ultimately that is all that matters.
“BBoom BBoom” never takes itself too seriously. It’s a little bit bonkers, a whole lot colorful, and a genuinely good time all around. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you need.
‘Latata’ — (G)I-DLE
There’s a very weirdly specific reason that “Latata” stuck in my head from the moment that I heard it — and it has everything to do with a former NHL hockey player called Michael Latta — but outside of that reason, it is still a fantastic song.
I’m guilty of hitting the skip button religiously whenever I’m in a certain musical mood, but no matter when “Latata” comes on, I can never bring myself to do it. That might be the sentimentality speaking due to that more personal connection — “HANN” could equally have taken this spot — but whenever the bridge and chorus come back around, I can’t stop myself from belting it out.
“Every day, every night, latata,” indeed.
What were some of your favorite K-Pop songs from 2018?
This list could have been 50 songs longer, quite easily, but I had to rein myself in a little. Please share your favorites in the comments below so that we can continue this K-Pop party through to the new year!