It’s that time of year again! And as always, I had trouble putting together my list of favorite music from this year. It’s very interesting for me because at first, I wasn’t even sure if I could fill a list of 20 or 40. Compared to recent years, this year didn’t have as many of the immediately memorable tracks that made it hard for me to whittle down my options.
So this year, instead of having trouble keeping the list as short as possible, I almost had trouble even finding songs to add to the list. But after really sitting down and listening once again to some of the music of 2022, I was able to jot down these 50 tracks.
How did I put this list together? It’s really just songs I enjoyed, liked or even loved. Usually it’s just a gut feeling. Other times it’s a quantitative measure. (Which songs were on repeat?!) And for many, it’s their staying power on my playlist. Which songs did I love when I first heard them and love them even more now. There might even be songs I wasn’t a fan of on first listen, but months later have accumulated dozens of repeat plays. Then there’s even songs that I might have loved originally, but ended up fading away over time.
So without further ado, here are my 50 Favorite Songs of 2022!
50. “Made for You” by JWiiver
Rookie group JWiiver made their debut with the track “Jtrap.” I liked it a lot and it definitely left a great first impression for them. The catchy dance track gives them the opportunity to introduce themselves with their strong vocals and eye-catching performance. But my favorite track from their debut album is definitely “Made For You.” A nice, bright track that allows the group to show off their versatility. They have not made their first comeback yet, but apparently it’s coming very soon! Definitely looking forward to them in 2023!
49. “Creature” by E’LAST
E’LAST returned with another captivating track in “Creature.” Continuing along the world they have established with their releases, “Creature” tells the story of the emotions triggered by a betrayal and misunderstanding. The dramatic song is matched by an equally dramatic and lush MV and a performance that is always powerful from the group. I definitely love the softer pre-chorus as it leads into the period of a chorus.
48. “Villain” by DRIPPIN
DRIPPIN is making big strides with every release. And “Villain” was an awesome track. The groovy electric bass of this dance track offers DRIPPIN the opportunity to show off a different side of themselves from their title tracks so far. Their growth and maturity were evident with their Universe app-exclusive release “Vertigo” last year (my favorite release from them so far). And “Villain,” as well as the rest of their 3rd mini album of the same name, was a great showcase for that.
47. “Hit the Bass” by BLITZERS
BLITZERS have had a diverse string of solid releases so far. But “Hit the Bass” has to be their biggest and most impactful yet. Accompanied by a stunning music video filmed in Lahore, Pakistan, the hip-hop dance track is a flashy, confident and charismatic performance from the talented rookies. Though perhaps, this is the track that has them taking that step up to the next level.
46. “Monochrome (Color)” by ATBO
ATBO had a rousing debut with their title track “Monochrome (Color).” The rookies deliver a strong, undeniably charismatic performance through a song that showcases the group’s skills and charms right off the bat. The dreamy pre-chorus pairs well with the all-out anthemic chorus. They followed their debut up with the also great “Attitude,” a song that very easily could’ve made this list as well.
45. “Adrenaline” by CRAVITY
Just like the title says, CRAVITY’s March comeback was definitely a big shot of “Adrenaline.” The groovy and energetic dance track is a great song that is effortlessly brought to life by a charismatic and youthful performance from the group.
44. “We Are Young” by Vincent
I first discovered singer-songwriter Vincent thanks to Arirang’s Pops in Seoul back in 2018. His songs like “Talk About,” “No More Lonely Night,” and “Thinking About” have been on my repeat playlist since. His last release was “Burn It All” in 2019, so seeing him post about a brand-new track was very exciting. And “We Are Young” definitely did not disappoint. The stunning, moody track makes full use of Vincent’s silky-smooth vocals as they glide across the atmospheric melody. The track crescendos into an electronic section that is dramatically jarring, but in a good way. “We Are Young” is very much a great introduction for anyone who might not be familiar with his work. And of course, a welcome return for fans who have waited for his comeback.
43. “Move” by TNX
Psy debuted his first boy group at P Nation, TNX. Title track “Move” led the album “Way Up” and it perfectly introduced the group as they aim to make a name for themselves in the industry. The confident track blends the rap and sung parts in a great way that allows the bumping, affirmative chorus to not feel empty or out of place. The group definitely showed off their potential and talent with their performance. And I’m looking forward to their comeback hopefully soon!
42. “Villain” by TRENDZ
TRENDZ had a great debut. And they followed up their strong title track “TNT (Truth&Trust)” with the awesome “Villain.” The guys exude confidence and charisma with the song and its lyrics. But it is their performance that really stands out. Check out all the different versions of the performance video on YouTube. An excellent showcase for these super rookies’ talents.
41. “On a Highway” by Ciipher
Ciipher came back with their latest album The Code and its title track “Fame.” The song was an immediately engaging pop-dance track that blends together some feel-good K-pop vibes and a modern sound. It was definitely my favorite title track from them so far and also could’ve easily made this Top 50 But R&B dance track “On a Highway” ended up being my favorite from the album and has been on my repeat playlist since.
40. “Just a Little Bit” by TEMPEST
TEMPEST had a fun and energetic debut with “Bad News” and made their first comeback with the strong “Dragon.” But my favorite track from them so far has definitely been the sweet pop track “Just a Little Bit.” It is different from their title tracks, so it’s been a great show of versatility for the rookies.
39. “Moon&Back” by Park Jihoon
Spoiler alert! This won’t be the last time you’ll see Park Jihoon on this list! Ahead of his comeback, I immediately loved pre-release track “Moon&Back.” The dreamy R&B track with Jihoon’s soft voice reminds me of some of my favorite tracks of his, especially “Paradise.” And its vibe fits perfectly with the romantic lyrics.
38. “When I Move” by KARA
Hearing that KARA would be making a comeback for their 15th anniversary was a wonderful and welcome surprise. In the year or two before their now-hiatus, the group kind of strayed away from the sound and style they had become known and loved for. But their big comeback track “When I Move” definitely returns to those early days of catchy hooks and charismatic charm. It’s really wonderful to see KARA back. But also happy to see the members doing well in their solo careers as well.
37. “Long Live the King” by KINGDOM
KINGDOM never disappoints. And the title for this comeback track fits perfectly for this talented group. “Long Live the King” indeed. The track has all the unique qualities of their previous titles. That distinctly regal and traditional touch with contemporary pop-dance melodies. “Long Live the King” has a bit more modern flair this time, as evidenced as well with the choreography and its accompanying music video. And it’s a great progression for the group as they continue with their epic series of releases.
36. “No Rules” by Baekho
It is so exciting to see Kang Dongho aka Baekho officially making his solo debut. He was always my NU’EST bias. So getting to finally listen to his solo album Absolute Zero is a big treat. Title track “No Rules” is a bass-backed and rock-infused track that is both romantic and sensual. Baekho’s vocals just glide across the addictive melody for an impactful performance.
35. “W.A.T.1” by MCND
MCND prepared for their comeback with the pre-release track “W.A.T.1” and it definitely got me excited. I’ll admit I’ve been 50/50 with their comebacks. I like them fine. But none have really caught my ear. I guess that’s partly thanks to just how perfect “Ice Age” was. “W.A.T.1,” however, is probably the closest I’ve felt to being excited about an MCND release since that debut. The rock-infused pop dance track suits them so well and I would love to hear more from them in this style.
34. “Universe” by ONEWE
ONEWE released Planet Nine: VOYAGER at the beginning of the year and “Universe” is a stunningly beautiful title track. Leader Yonghoon co-wrote the soaring, emotional rock ballad and is very much what one might come to expect from the talented band. Both the song and accompanying music video builds up and crescendos with a stirring and emotional finish as they sing of always being by their loved ones, physically, emotionally and through the cherished memories when those loved ones may be far away. Truly a heartrending song performed with captivating passion. As ONEWE often does.
33. “Dessert” by Kim Yohan
Fresh off his drama debut, Kim Yo Han made his solo debut with the release of Illusion. Title track “Dessert” is a fun and funky track that plays up the cheeky lyrics with its disco-tinged melody. Taking part in the song’s rap-making, the song is a great showcase for his solo talents. And he effortlessly takes ownership of his solo stage with a strong performance. *spoiler alert* This won’t be the last you’ll see of Kim Yo Han on this list either!
32. “In My Heart” by Black Level
Continuing the strong debuts of this year, Black Level had one with the charismatic “Infection.” My favorite from their debut album though is “In My Heart.” I don’t know how many times I’ve hummed the chorus since first listening to the song. The guitar and bass help to make the song a sweet and dreamy track. The group’s “I’ll Wait” was also great and just on the cusp of my Top 40.
It’s a bit sad to have recently found out that several members had left the group and they are in the process of looking for new members. But hopefully we’ll be hearing more from Black Level in 2023!
31. “It Ain’t Over” by NOA
NOA has released a diverse mix of songs since his debut and he’s delivered great performances with each on. The groovy “It Ain’t Over” is no different in that sense, but definitely a different kind of vibe from the talented solo artist. And just another awesome display of his talent and charisma.
30. “Lights On” by Just B
JUST B finally released some new music in April and my favorite track from the album is the mellow “Lights On.” A change of pace from the group’s strong title tracks, but just the kind of song I will definitely have on my Night Drive playlist.
29. “Find You” by BZ-Boys
BZ-Boys made my list of favorite songs of 2021 with the great “Close Your Eyes.” And they started off 2022 with their latest comeback track “Find You.” The midtempo house track evokes a great nostalgic atmosphere as their smooth vocals sing of longing and regret for a past relationship. The group has really been able to find their voice with every comeback. And it’s awesome to see their exponential growth with every one. So good!
28. “Young Boy” by NINE.i
I really loved NINE.i’s debut title track “Parallel Universe.” Probably my favorite debut track from a rookie group this year. But at #28 is their follow-up track “Young Boy.” The group’s first comeback definitely solidified NINE.i as my favorite rookies of the year. The synth-infused “Young Boy” includes elements of pop-punk and rock and the group’s effortless performance perfectly encapsulates that youthful nostalgia and hopeful energy.
27. “I’ll Go First” by EPEX
EPEX released some great music this year. My favorite track from them this year is the mellow and comforting “I’ll Go First.” A perfect closer for the strong album they released in April.
26. “Again” by NU’EST
NU’EST wrapped up their time together as a group with the release of “Again.” The beautifully nostalgic track was a wonderful, though of course bittersweet, way for the group to end on a high note and gift fans and audiences alike with one last excellent performance.
25. “Candy Sugar Pop” by ASTRO
ASTRO’s “Candy Sugar Pop” is indeed a sweet track. The retro-infused pop-dance track is probably my favorite ASTRO title track in a while, especially since their obvious shift in style last year. It’s a fun, energetic track that actually harkens back to ASTRO’s early days, but with a contemporary feel.
24. “Nitro” by Park Jihoon
I loved the retro, synth-infused vibe of “Nitro” from Park Jihoon’s latest album. Actually, together with the music video, I very much got some Akira vibes too. And I love Akira, so mix that with Park Jihoon whom I also love, that’s a perfect combination once again. Jihoon’s performance is a mix of softness and charisma that really makes the whole thing so captivating and exciting to watch and listen to.
23. “O” by VERIVERY
I had no idea what to expect from the song when I first went in to the MV of “O.” But it definitely was not this!
I absolutely love it. Within the first few seconds of the song, I was already thinking to myself, “Woah, what is this song?!” I started to get a feeling what it might end up sounding like and was hoping so much that it would pan out the way I was envisioning. And it did. This smooth, dreamy R&B track is definitely not the VERIVERY one might expect. But it is very much the natural next step forward for a group that has grown with every release since debut.
22. “Chemical” by from20
Kim Raehwan has released some incredible music as from20. And that was definitely the case again with “Chemical,” his synth-infused latest single. It is a catchy, upbeat, yet fanciful song that easily grabs your attention and has you feeling its lyrics and melody.
21. “Because” by Rie of OnlyOneOf
OnlyOneOf’s “undergrOund idOl” series has really been a wonderful opportunity for each member to show off their unique talents and flavors with solo tracks. They’ve also been accompanied by eye-catching music videos, again exemplifying the group’s creativity and artistry. “Because” by Rie might be my favorite release so far. (And the releases by KB, Yoojung and Junji have all be excellent already.) The pop-rock-infused track has this great, dreamy vibe that matches Rie’s soft vocals. The atmosphere is excellently depicted in the very cinematic music video. At first glance, you might think you’re watching a trailer for a feature film. The song and Rie’s performance definitely capture the feelings of first love and the complicated feelings (happy and sad) that come with it.
20. “PNGNP” by BGYO
I’ve been kind of hot and cold with BGYO. They’re definitely a great, talented group. But other than maybe one or two songs from them, I haven’t really had their music on repeat. “PNGNP” was another story. And story it is. The sexy, romantic track has that perfect R&B vibe that has the guys singing the flirtatious lyrics to that special someone. It reminds me of “Kundiman,” one of the few tracks I truly love from the group. And it’s certainly a harana-ready track. Like the vowel-less title suggests, the track’s dreamy vibe is made possible by the group’s silky smooth vocals. Night drive worthy? Yes! Playlist worthy? I think so! My new favorite BGYO track? Absolutely!
19. “Beauty and the Beast” by The Rose
As great as The Rose’s dips into other flavors of rock have been, it was wonderful to see their first release in two years harken back to their iconic debut “Sorry” which immediately enthralled listeners and fans. Released almost a year ago in January, “Beauty and the Beast” is an excellent, emotional and moving rock ballad about love in all its forms. With the band back together after their members have completed their military service, “Beauty and the Beast” was the perfect song to announce their comeback, reminding old fans and introducing themselves to potential new fans of how talented they are.
18. “Talking Myself” by LUMINOUS
The first, but definitely not the last time LUMINOUS will pop up on my list today. LUMINOUS’ first full-length album was full of excellent tracks. And retro pop “Talking Myself” is one of my favorites. It is an addictive track with a catchy synth-infused melody.
17. “Aswang” by ALAMAT
It’s been wonderful finally getting into P-pop this year. And ALAMAT has become my favorite P-pop group. “Aswang” is a modern pop-dance track whose melody and music will have no problem getting you to groove along with it. But ALAMAT infuses what might be a familiar sound with that Filipino flavor. Taking something like the idea of an “aswang” from folklore to create a distinctly Filipino approach to a common theme about love (such as a dangerous, but irresistible infatuation) in modern pop gives the song that extra bit of charismatic charm. The music video brings that all together into a visual treat. With some cinematic flair, ALAMAT’s performance is just as irresistible as the titular aswang’s enchanting allure. Anyone who might be new to ALAMAT or P-pop in general will certainly be impressed, I’m sure.
16. “Crazy About You” by ARTIST
It’s been a while since I’ve truly loved an UP10TION title track. But that immediately changed with the release of “Crazy About You” at the beginning of the year. It’s a more mature UP10TION as the currently 7-member group offer up the dramatic and emotional song about longing for the moments once spent with someone now gone. The chorus is especially appealing and it’s the kind of soaring melody I don’t know I’ve heard from them. At least, not in a long time.
15. “Love Burn” by Baekho
I love Baekho’s debut solo album. And “Love Burn” is my favorite track from it. The synth-infused pop rock track has a refreshingly addictive melody that Bakeho’s vocals definitely takes and runs with. It’s been on my repeat playlist since it was first released.
14. “Back Then” by Kim Jaehwan
I really loved Kim Hae Hwan’s rock-focused album last year. A few of the songs from that album made my favorite songs of the year list. And while his ballad-focused release earlier this year was great, his latest comeback title track “Back Then” reminds me so much of the songs I loved from him last year. It’s not the typical sound you’d hear from a K-pop artist, which is always refreshing. But Kim Jae Hwan being such a versatile artist, it is especially enjoyable and addictive to have a song like “Back Then” to add the playlist. A mix of rock, pop and dance really make for an irresistible song you just have to listen to over and over and experience.
13. “Crazy” by LUMINOUS
LUMINOUS’ groovy pop track “Crazy” is my favorite from their first full-length album. Luminous in Wonderland was definitely a great showcase for what the group has to offer. And among the unskippable tracklist, “Crazy” has been played the most for me this year. At least, from this album. *wink*wink*
12. “Parallel Universe” by NINE.i
This title track probably would’ve been enough to make NINE.i my favorite rookies of 2022. Their follow-up release definitely solidified it. But “Parallel Universe” was really just excellent. The dreamy pop dance track and its motivating message was a great way for the group to introduce themselves to the public. And the rest of the debut album followed suit with wonderful vibes. It’s a different route for a rookie group to take in terms of style and sound. But in doing so, NINE.i definitely set themselves apart from the rest. And that’s why I can confidently say they and the song are my favorite rookies and debut song of 2022.
11. “Burn” by Corbyn
Cory Hong, aka Corbyn, is an incredibly talent who has a way to being able to so effectively express himself through his music. “Burn” is more proof of that. The pre-release track is an ethereal R&B ballad. It is easy to get swept up in the track’s soulful vibe with Corbyn’s mellow, though passionate performance bringing the pointed lyrics to vivid life.
10. “Say U Love Me” by ALAMAT
It’s been such a treat to have discovered and now grown to love ALAMAT this year. Of their 2022 songs, “Say U Love Me” is definitely my favorite. The chill heartbreak vibes of “Say U Love Me” offer ALAMAT another opportunity to show off their talents and impressive versatility. The song’s mellow and at times stripped down melody accentuates the group’s soft vocals as they glide across the wistful lyrics. This is our sad boy hours anthem fellas! huhu
9. “WEOL” by ARTIST
from20 has become one of my favorite solo artists after his amazing releases last year. He came back with his new single “WEOL” and the synth-infused track is very much a spiritual successor to his excellent “Because It’ll Be Faster For You to Forget Me Than Me Loving You.” The similar kinetic vibes of both the songs and music videos are really such a great showcase for from20’s creative mind. Kim Raehwan is just simply a talented man and “WEOL” is more proof of that.
8. “Illusion” by KINGDOM
Title track “Ascension” was another amazing all-around performance from KINGDOM for their first release this year. But my favorite track from that album and from them overall this year is definitely the dreamy, synth-infused “Illusion.” What’s even more fascinating is that since then, apparently the song has a much deeper meaning to it as well. And that’s added a whole other layer to the track. KINGDOM are just amazing artists and it’ll be exciting to see them continuing their epic series of releases next year.
7. “Wish You Were Here” by LUMINOUS
LUMINOUS released their first single album with the track “Wish You Were Here” and it was an unexpectedly sweet midtempo pop song encouraging the youth during hard times. The band said this was a special treat for fans before they continue on with the third story of their debut Luminous series. (And that of course resulted in the excellent full-length album Luminous in Wonderland.) A great way for the talented group to show off a different side of themselves. But the more I listened to it, the more I fell in love with it. A really beautiful track that’s been on repeat since its release.
6. “Run Up (Korean Version)” by T1419
T1419 (now known as TFN) released my favorite track from them so far with the Korean version of Japanese single “Run Up.” It’s a bit of a different feel from their powerful and intense title tracks so far. But it’s definitely the kind of song that I immediately gravitate to.
I chose the Korean version over the Japanese original mainly because of one specific moment in the track. I even tweeted for help identifying the second voice in the 2nd chorus of the track:
A question for any #T1419 fans/EDELWEISS out there. Who's the second voice in the 2nd chorus that harmonizes the "Run Up"? It's my favorite part of the song. 😊
Around 1:33 ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/9AW3oIrrUS
— DryedMangoez (@dryedmangoez) June 1, 2022
T1419/TFN’s wonderful fans EDELWEISS definitely came to help and let me know that it was actually the voice of Sian. I don’t know what it is, but I really love that moment in the song so much. And that’s even as I love the song as a whole already.
It’s a refreshing track from the rookie group where they are still able to deliver that charismatic performance while offering up a charming dance melody in a way they have not yet done.
5. “But You” by iKON
iKON’s latest title track “But You” is an awesome retro dance track. The group has branched out in sound and style with their recent releases. And “But You” continues that as the nostalgic track fits perfectly with the theme of their album Flashback. The more I listened to the track, the more I loved it.
4. “Diamond” by Yonghoon of ONEWE
Going to You at a Speed of 493km is definitely one of my favorite dramas of 2022. But Yonghoon’s contribution to the OST “Diamond” quickly also became one of my favorite tracks. The excellent pop rock ballad definitely encapsulates the feelings of youth from the drama. Just listening to the song’s encouraging lyrics as performed with the always stunning vocals of ONEWE’s Yonghoon is truly one of the best musical experiences of this year.
3. “Cold” by CORBYN
Simply put, “Cold” is absolutely stunning. As always, Corbyn puts his heart and soul into his music. He is able to effortlessly draw you in to his emotions, no matter how high or how low. Passionate is an understatement when it comes to Corbyn’s performances. He expresses himself in such captivating ways. “Cold” is a haunting appeal to a loved one from someone fighting to overcome struggles. Corbyn conveys those complicated emotions with so much heart and sincerity. You just feel it and hear it through his music. And it’s no different with “Cold.”
As if I wasn’t excited already for his album, Our Static Seatbelt, “Cold” is just another reason to feel that way. Not enough words to describe this feeling. Except, THANK YOU Corbyn for sharing your music with all of us! 2023 is going to be an exciting year!
2. “Selfish” by Kim Yohan
From his acting to his solo debut to of course WEi continuing to release great music too, I’ve been so impressed by Kim Yohan this year. My favorite track from his solo album and my #2 favorite of this year is “Selfish.” An absolutely perfect track. Everything about it from the vibes to Yohan’s voice to the music to the lyrics; I love it all. I just wish Yohan had performed it live or had an MV for it. This track absolutely deserves so much more attention.
1. “Lovender” by Han Seung Yun
I was definitely a fan of Lunafly back in the day. So I was so happy to see Han Seung Yun back and releasing new music. The title track of the album of the same name, “Lovender,” made its case upon release. And almost 11 months later, it has held on to its spot at the top of my list. Such an excellent track that highlights Seung Yun’s beautiful and powerful vocals. The rock-infused pop ballad has an impactful and memorable melody. And it’s not hard to just get lost in the song.