Katherine’s Top K-Pop Releases of 2018: Intro and Special Mentions

It’s that time of year again! Starting today, I’ll be releasing my usual set of end of year posts and walking you through my favorite debuts and comebacks of 2018. It was a pretty great year for K-pop, so there was a LOT to cover – but it was great to go back through all of the music that I listened to and the comebacks that I enjoyed. I’ve kept my traditional Top 50 list as always, but I’m also trying something new and adding a different section!

Last year, I had so many songs on my playlist that I expanded my Top 50 to a Top 100. I was still in my massively multifandom phase, and I was trying to discover as many artists and groups as I could. This past year, I’ve found that I’ve become a lot more selective about what I listen to. It’s not personal or about liking or disliking a group; I just don’t have as much free time as before. Instead of very casually listening to all kinds of artists, my energy now goes into my established favorite groups or songs I’m just really drawn to.

As a result, I don’t actually have 100 songs that I listened to frequently in 2018! I still keep track of dozens of groups to various degrees, so I faithfully checked out all of their releases – but I didn’t always keep listening to them. That being said, there are a fair amount of songs that didn’t make it into my Top 50 but that I want to acknowledge for various reasons. So, I took them and made a special mentions section! To make things interesting and not just make a long list of music, I’ve broken these tracks down into three categories and explained my logic a bit more.


I’m going to get this out of the way: once you’ll scroll down, you’ll see three songs that are probably THE most popular songs of 2018. You’ll probably think, “Katherine, you’re crazy!!! “[Insert song here] was THE song of the year! It even won [insert award(s) here]!” These three songs, along with a few others, didn’t make The Top 50 because of my personal preference. However, I’ve put them in this category because they were popular in South Korea or internationally (or both!), and I want to acknowledge that they are good objectively. I did actually enjoy them once upon a time; I just played them a few times too many to still appreciate them months later. Listed alphabetically by artist, they are:

Category #2:

Though I try to keep music as the primary factor for making these lists, this category is more based on the group rather than the song. These are groups that I think are underrated in the industry, with the exception of one well-known rookie and the one veteran I put in there. (Though to be honest, they could both do with more attention as well.) Though most of them didn’t make my Top 50 this time, I put them here to recognize that I do like their music in general – even if I didn’t listen to the chosen song a lot beyond the promotion period. In alphabetical order by artist, they are:

Category #3:

These are the songs that almost made it into the Top 50. To be honest, three of these were on the first drafts of the list back when I started preparing in November… but they lost out to some last minute end of the year releases. (Blame my bias toward SM groups that I finally allowed to run unchecked.) The fourth song was released in December, but by then I had already locked in the Top 50 and was drafting my blog posts. And the fifth one was always on the fence, but never quite made it. So, these get an extra special mention! In alphabetical order by artist, they are:

Stay tuned for my official Top 50 – I’ll be releasing them in sets of ten over the next few days!

MUSIC VIDEO AND IMAGE SOURCES: Big Hit Entertainment (BTS), Cube Entertainment (BTOB and CLC), DSP Media (KARD), Fantagio Entertainment (Weki Meki), Jellyfish Entertainment (VIXX and gugudan SeMiNa), JYP Entertainment (Stray Kids), MakeUs Entertainment (Sunmi), MBK Entertainment (DIA), M&H Entertainment (Chungha), NH Media (Laboum), RBW Entertainment (MAMAMOO), SM Entertainment (SHINee), Star Empire Entertainment (IMFACT), Stone Music Entertainment (fromis_9 and Wanna One), Swings Entertainment (Wanna One), WM Entertainment (Oh My Girl), Woollim Entertainment (Lovelyz), and YG Entertainment (WINNER and iKON)

ADDITIONAL MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS: The music videos for “Only One For Me,” “Black Dress,” “That Day,” “Starry Night,” “Egotistic,” “Bboom Bboom,” “Secret Garden,” are also distributed by 1theK. The music video for “Between Us” is distributed by Bugs! Music. The music video for “To Heart” is distributed by CJ E&M. The music video for “Na Na Na” is distributed by Genie Music. The music videos for “Rollercoaster,” “Light,” “Spring Breeze” are distributed by Stone Music Entertainment.

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