The first half of 2022 proved why it has been an exciting year for K-pop.
Electronic, rock ballad, hip-hop, bubblegum pop, funk, and 2nd-Gen renaissance are some of the genres that dominated the first half of the year as K-pop idols served a ton of iconic bangers. So, allow us to list down 16 of the best title tracks of 2022 so far. Remember: this list covers only the title tracks that were released from January to June—which were tough to narrow down, btw.
16. Maniac by Stray Kids
What makes Stray Kids so unique from their peers? Well, allow Maniac to show you what these boys can do. The single is more subdued compared to their previous repertoire but it shows that the members have fully taken control of their craft—fully embodying the essence of the “oddinary.”
God-tier: Maniac is a masterful display of Stray Kids using “noise music” as a powerful weapon.
15. HOT by SEVENTEEN
The moment that first note dropped, we’re whiplashed that this is SEVENTEEN now—masculine, gloriously charming, and downright hot. The use of autotune and repetitive hooks can sometimes be grating, but the boys used these tools as a way to add layers of dimension to an already catchy banger. If there’s one thing that Hot proved to us, it’s that the members know what they’re doing with this track—and they did it so well.
God-tier: We get it, SEVENTEEN. You’re all hot. So, calm down because we can’t stop fanning ourselves.
14. DM by fromis_9
Gone are the shy girls who secretly swoon over their crushes. Enter fromis_9, the nine-member female group who are upfront about what they want. It seems that retro-inspired bangers are the quintessential reminder of a K-pop group’s maturity, but DM is proof that you can take a tried-and-tested formula and give its well-deserved makeover. Plus, doesn’t the catchy single remind us of one of their God-tier singles, Feel Good?
God-tier: fromis_9 are women and we “can’t look away” from now on.
13. Still Life by BIGBANG
A lot of us were once desperate to grow up—and now, we sometimes find ourselves in a sentimental wonder of how much time has passed. There’s something about the production and lyrics of Still Life that feels like watching a replay of our past in slow motion with a painful and realistic punch. Growing up is a painfully formative journey and the lyrics, “Goodbye now to my beloved young days,” illustrate it so well.
God-tier: No one knows where BIGBANG is headed from here, but Still Life is a bittersweet reminder that they’ve all grown up now.
12. Pop! by TWICE’s Nayeon
Stay mad, haters. Nayeon is a superstar and Pop! had us front, line, and sinker. The catchy bop is a display of pure, immaculate fun as TWICE’s center and lead vocalist takes us into a melodic ride—with all the right pops. The extravagant melody, bombastic brass, and Nayeon’s no-nonsense vocals remind us of Sharpay Evans—which is such a fabulous way to mark your territory as a soloist.
God-tier: We want to thank Im Nayeon for bringing us back to the cute, crazy, and charming sides of 2nd-Gen K-pop.
11. Good Boy Gone Bad by TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT)
The charming boys of TXT have embraced their emo side as they launch into an angst-driven rant about how “love is a lie” with Good Boy Gone Bad. The banger is a sign that the members had their wholesome, fairy-inspired sides ahead of them, as they deliver a complete-180 of their previous selves with impressive and powerful synergy. Plus, their amplified tortured cries are so heart-wrenching— you can almost see Yeonjun, Soobin, Beomgyu, Taehyun, and Huening Kai laying down their heartbreak for us to stream.
God-tier: TXT fully surrendered to the dark side—and they’re unapologetic about it.
10. Glitch by Kwon Eunbi
Eunbi entered uncharted territory with Glitch—since experimenting with neuro-bass is rare in K-pop—and emerged as a queen. The song’s skeletal production and Eunbi’s wispy vocals are intentional, mimicking the “glitchy” feeling a person gets when they’re faced with an unlikely moment with their crush. Both artist and producer had a lot to work with in this addictive number but they’ve played with each other so well.
God-tier: Is it just us or Glitch’s chorus reminds us of a banger that a drag queen would perform?
9. Devil by TVXQ’s Changmin
TVXQ’s Changmin has always been an enigma since debut but Devil is a display of his manly charm in all its glory. The number starts off spine-tingling as he plays around with his lower tone—almost as if he’s seducing the listeners—before hitting us in the face with his signature effortless belts. Until the epicness of the banger reminds you that you’re fully enraptured in his spell. Well played, Mr. Shim.
God-tier: The pauses in the track are tastefully done. Because let’s be clear—pauses also matter in music.
8. Run2U by STAYC
There’s something about STAYC’s oeuvre that seems so easy to the ears, but RUN2U showed listeners that that’s the earworm they’re going for. The record hints at the girls slowly letting go of bubblegum-pop, while reminding us their high-teen and sanguine selves are not going anywhere. If Sieun—and her blonde locks in the M/V—reaching the heavens at the bridge didn’t convince you enough, we don’t know what else would.
God-tier: The track might’ve suffered from a lack of “STAYC girls, it’s going down” but Sumin, Sieun, Isa, Seeun, Yoon, and J’s youthful confidence are hard to ignore.
7. Adrenaline by CRAVITY
A rugged bass loop, seamless funky loops, and swoon-worthy charm all in one satisfying track? Shantay you slay, CRAVITY. Another seamless single worthy of a chef’s kiss, the members embraced their signature boyish charm as they smoothly delivered a charming vocal, rap, and sing-talk performance from start to finish. Can we also talk about the disco funk-inspired melody? Because whoever created the melody and meshed it with the boys’ teasing vocals also deserves applause.
God-tier: If the groovy banger didn’t spell it out enough, CRAVITY wants that “one shot” of Adrenaline.
6. Tomboy by (G)I-DLE
(G)I-DLE has nothing to prove—and the sassy Tomboy is the perfect example why. Since their debut, the quintet’s discography portrays the woman’s coming of age and this song is an empowering take on self-acceptance. The pre-chorus even said it best, “People say it's crazy / What’s the loss to me,” so, why should the girls force themselves to fit in?
God-tier: The “Yeah, I’m f***ing tomboy” was a hit on our faces in the chorus—and that’s the point.
5. But You by iKON
It seems that synth-pop is the industry’s trend, but iKON’s But You is a masterclass of a trend done right. There’s something about the song’s melody that feels so effortless as it smoothly glides from start to finish, without sounding too repetitive. The boys’ vocals were also spot-on as they seamlessly married the music without losing themselves completely.
God-tier: The instrumental is such an easy-to-listen melodic glide, we’re seriously obsessed with it.
4. GingaMingaYo (the strange world) by Billlie
Tsuki’s viral fancam aside, GingaMingaYo (the strange world) is the song that Billlie needs to separate themselves from the pack. The girl group’s concept means a lot of things, including someone’s inner psyche, and this quirky single is the representative song of a person’s messy innermost self or in their words, “can’t explain.” Plus, the track reminds us of the signature weirdness that we love about K-pop.
God-tier: Call us weird or whatever, but the loud raps, playful vocals, and disjointed melody is the perfect display of Billlie.
3. INVU by Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon
Kim Taeyeon outdid herself yet again with INVU, a song that highlights the cruel reality that not everyone will love you. Listening to the idol feel “envy” towards someone is unlikely—because why would she—but her way of letting out emotions through music is flawless. At first, it’s hard to imagine her powerful voice combined with synth-pop but then again, this track proved why she’s the Kim Taeyeon.
God-tier: The way Taeyeon’s envy starts out small with her hesitant “Falling in love” until it evolves into full-blown jealousy with her powerful adlibs is masterfully done.
2. Feel My Rhythm by Red Velvet
It’s one thing to incorporate Bach’s Air On The G String in a song, it’s another to use a classic sample to create a spectacle. Feel My Rhythm did just that and surpassed all expectations. The song is proof of Red Velvet’s confidence to shrug off threads while displaying their vocal prowess at its best. One thing’s for sure, the group is known for their signature eccentricity and it’s here to stay.
God-tier: Combining Red Velvet’s idiosyncrasy with Bach was genius—but their beautiful vocals sealed the deal.
1. Love Dive by IVE
Eleven was a banger that put IVE on everyone’s radar, but it was Love Dive that had us wrapped around their fingers. The track is a luxurious display of the group’s confident personas, with the “whoo” luring listeners into their spell. Not only the track feels like the theme song of a high-fashion series but the way the girls sang the song—in all their Clueless-esque glory—was a chef’s kiss.
God-tier: Rei and Wonyoung’s sass reflected on their vocals the most—giving the Beverly Hills flavor the song needs.