What's been your favourite song of the year?
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21 Dec 2018 - 11:14 AM  UPDATED 21 Dec 2018 - 11:20 AM

In a year of incredible hits across languages in Asian pop, we've compiled PopAsia's top 100 songs for 2018. In what was a huge year for so many artists, we looked at all the biggest songs released from December 1 2017 to December 14 2018 to compile an epic list of 100 songs.

Here's the first half in ascending order. We'll be publishing the top 50 on Monday 24 December, so keep your eyes out for that too!

100. KARD: "Ride on the Wind"

Busy on a world tour, "Ride on the Wind" was KARD's only release this year but fits right in with their aesthetic of summery trop-pop made for dancing.

99. The Boyz: "No Air"

For a minute it looked like The Boyz were stuck in a rut of mid-tempo releases but "No Air" revitalised their sound with its perfectly paced electronic pop undertones, reaching their climax with the beat drop on the chorus.

98. The Rose: "Baby"

A catchy slice of pop-rock that marries a driving bass line with interchanging vocals, this song about a couple on the verge of falling apart is the dose of rock K-pop needed this year.

97. Heize ft. Gaeko: "Jenga"

One of the most distinctive female vocalists in K-pop/K R&B, "Jenga" plays with genre and a jazzy refrain that ebbs and flows in unexpected ways. 

96. Keelong and Rays: "Flashback"

Mando-pop with all the best elements of tropical house, the lilting beat on this easygoing tune is reminiscent of road trips to the beach.

95. E-Girls: "Showtime"

E-Girls stand out for their less traditional J-pop girl group aesthetic, and their music reflects it too. The Middle-Eastern hook running in the background of this song is the real star, and the members' distinct vocals add to what makes a stand-out pop song.

94. Weki Meki: "Crush"

Weki Meki slid right into club bangers with this track that showcases their darker side. It has all of the year's popular music moves like a bombastic electro chorus followed by a beat drop. It's a direction we can only hope the group keeps moving in.

93. ONF: "Complete"

Enthusiastic is the best way to describe this track. The bright vocals are mirrored by the chorus' centrepiece saxophone - a totally under-utilised instrument in pop music - making this an earworm you can't forget.

92. Amber x Luna: "Lower"

Sensual and stylish, this collab from the two f(x) members was unexpectedly leftfield, considering its minimalist style. There's not much in the way of lyrics, but the beat alone makes it a tune perfect for heady nights out under dark lights.

91. 831: "Young Guns"

This boisterous Taiwanese rock-pop song combines anthemic singing with horns to make music fit for stadium singalongs.

90. Kim Donghan: "Sunset"

A striking solo debut from the former JBJ member, the track has all the hallmarks of a mid-tempo pop banger. The moment Kim Donghan's vocals drop several octaves to deliver "you'll never get away from me" is when you realise how much potential is hiding in this young talent.

89. The Rampage from EXILE TRIBE: "Hard Hit"

The blockbuster energy that permeates this song is almost at odds with how calm the vocals are, but that contrast is what stops it from being an ear-sore. Instead it uses orchestral and rock elements to pump up the adrenaline.

88. gugudan: "Not That Type"

A girl power anthem from an unexpected candidate, this song thrums with its underlying house affectations while making it clear that these women are in charge and making choices for themselves.

87. EXO: "Electric Kiss"

EXO's first full Japanese album gave us this gem that makes immediate impact with a pounding chorus accentuated by truly distinctive vocals. It's a song where every member is working in perfect harmony.

86. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: "Kimino Mikata"

Bubblegum pop in its purest form, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's signature high-pitch vocals are almost low-key in this peppy tune with a rhythmic beat that gets your toes tapping.

85. Kaka Azraff: "Sibuk"

One of Malaysia's biggest pop stars takes elements of trap and R&B for this smooth song that's pinned together by an incessant piano melody and her velvet vocals. 

84. Kelly Chen: "Typewriter"

A delightful meld of classical chords gone hyper-electronic, synth pops and hand claps, this is the purest of pop music that's made for jumping along to.

83. PENTAGON: "Naughty Boy"

Released amid the E'Dawn controversy and while Yanan was on a health-related break, the eight-member PENTAGON still crafted an absolute bop. Drawing on Korean idioms and clever wordplay, "Naughty Boy" was the fittingly sweet follow up to "Shine", with similar nursery rhyme catchiness at play.

82. SKE48: "Ikinaru Punch Line"

SKE48's 23rd single went all out with a striking retro concept. The use of big band instrumentation and the 'punch line' chorus refrain made it a stand-out J-pop song that transcends the genre.

81. Pristin V: "Get It"

Pristin's five-member unit went full bad-girl concept with this track. Switching from a twinkling bridge to electric chorus, the falsettos just keep getting higher until the rap drops for a sensual low in what is an intimidatingly catchy song.

80. SF9: "Mamma Mia"

Somewhere between a doo-wop tune and pop jam, "Mamma Mia" highlighted SF9's compatibility as vocalists, especially in their harmonised background vocals. It's an infectious song with the sensible mid-tempo vibe that keeps you coming back.

79. Last Idol: "Everything Will Be Alright"

Techno rock is alive and well in J-pop and it's exemplary proof is in this song. This sounds like what drinking five energy drinks in a row probably feels like, and it is so much fun.

78. Morning Musume '18: "Because It's A Free Country"

The 66th single from the J-pop juggernaut, it amps the energy up to almost impossible heights as the verses allow for vocal skills to shine before the chorus goes full thumping electro.

77. Jennie: "SOLO"

"SOLO" is immediately entrancing: the perky strings with finger snaps and vocals are cleverly minimal before bringing in operatic elements, only to then break it down further with a deep bass. It all helps highlight Jennie's naturally charismatic vocals, and the tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

76. Julia Wu: "Dial Up"

Feeling fresh out of the 90s with the snapping snare sounds that scream retro hip-hop, the Mando-pop R&B princess nails the old-school vibe while staying firmly fresh.

75. =love: "Want You Want You"

High-intensity, super sweet J-pop is on full display from this 12-member girl group whose collective charisma keep you listening.

74. Super Junior ft. Leslie Grace: "Lo Siento"

SuJu's efforts to tap into the Latin market are best actualised in this collab that plays to the members' strengths as vocalists. The seamless melding of Leslie Grace's Spanish verses along with SuJu's mix of Korean and English works to make a truly international pop song.

73. BoA: "One Shot Two Shot"

The queen of K-pop's early 2018 comeback starts gentle and quickly turns into a club track perfect for late nights out. Her voice is crystal clear, the beat is sharp and crisp, and when the chorus of "one shot, two shot" in that peaking falsetto comes through, it's game over.

72. April: "Oh! My Mistake"

A truly underrated song from this year, April took a retro turn that we can already see becoming popular for 2019 K-pop. The 80s-style synths combined with the cheeky 'oh my mistake' refrain is enough to get this stuck in your head for days.

71. RM: "Seoul"

In "Seoul", RM verbalised the intangible feelings of nostalgia and homesickness that are familiar to anyone who spends enough time away from home. A space where love and hate intermingle, where there's always a pull to return despite all the cons, it's a song about Seoul but it's really for anyone living in this world.

70. NCT DREAM: "We Go Up"

Bubbling (literally) from its intro, the song takes on classic hip-hop percussive elements for the verses before dropping a bass-heavy chorus. All for an anthemic tune that's made bittersweet with the knowledge that its Mark's last with NCT DREAM.

69. NU'EST W: "Dejavu"

NU'EST W are four equally strong vocalists and this song is an admirable encapsulation of their individual and whole powers. There's something indelibly charismatic about their voices that means when that funk groove kicks in on the bridge, you're hooked.

68. GARNiDELiA: "Error"

Futuristic electro-pop rock that takes an unexpected turn at the chorus, this duo combine complex production with classic rock-style female vocals on this track.

67. ATEEZ: "Treasure"

Undoubtedly one of the best debut tracks in recent years, it's the perfect intro for a rookie group. At points enigmatic, full of vocal tics and tricks that keep your ears attuned and a classic build-up to an immense chorus, ATEEZ debut has been truly exciting.

66. Hyolyn ft. GRAY: "Dally"

Anything with GRAY on production is bound to be a song to get you moving, and "Dally" is no exception. Hyolyn's irresistible charisma and vocal range are on full display in her solo debut.

65. A.C.E: "Take Me Higher"

The piano-centric melody immediately makes it stand out in a year of electronic productions. A.C.E's talents are truly underrated, and this song has all the elements of a pop classic that can stand the test of time thanks to its simple lyrical concept and strong vocals.

64. DEAN: "Instagram"

A perfect encapsulation of millenial neuroses, DEAN laments his and also his entire generation's obsession with social media in this song that grows from simple acoustic guitar to a patchwork of samples and sounds that never overwhelm his stunning voice.

63. Triple H: "Retro Future"

A sadly shortlived group that truly pushed boundaries for K-pop's norms, "Retro Future" takes 70s funk, 80s synths and 90s R&B sexiness to make a pulsing pop song. HyunA's nasal tones, E'Dawn's creeping raps and Hui's insanely diverse vocal range really are a match made in K-pop heaven.

62. Dreamcatcher: "You and I"

This girl group are really at the forefront of the more J-pop style of combining pop and rock elements for darker concepts. The operatic chorus is the real killing part here.

61. Reol: "Saisaki"

Instantly an earworm with its deep synth percussion, the vocals snap from falsetto to super-speedy chorus speak-singing in a captivating way.

60. Crush ft. Zico: "Cereal"

Toy instrument tinkling quickly gives way to Crush's pure honey voice on this track that strikes the exact balance between chill and catchy pop. The wordplay between cereal/serial/surreal is exemplified neatly in Zico's verse  with hook lyric "What's your serial number? Let me know your birthday" too.

59. MINO: "FIANCE"

Intrinsically layered with meaning, MINO melds a classic Korean song sample with traditional instrumentation to deliver a banger. His use of language within the song cleverly draws on old Korean metaphors for a song that simultaneously calls to the past and pushes into the future.

58. Astro Bunny: "So I Can Forget You"

Lyrically haunting, vocally stunning and musically evocative, this indie-pop song captures a particular mood that transcends linguistic barriers.

57. Maggie Fu: "I Hate You, I Love You"

If you like to cry, this song will do it for you. Sounding fresh from a drama soundtrack, this love song gives Maggie Fu full space to showcase her impressive vocal range set to a soft piano melody.

56. SEVENTEEN: "Oh My!"

A group of 13 members who move as one, SEVENTEEN are exemplary K-pop idols both in choreography and music. This summery tune was a refreshing return for them with the trademark SEVENTEEN boppy fun infused in its melody.

55. Stray Kids: "My Pace"

Coming straight out of the gates growling, this song is a rally cry for youth from one of K-pop's freshest rookie groups. Bang Chan's refrain of 'it's okay to take it slowly' is the crux of a comforting message telling people to look less at others and focus more on their own journeys at their own pace, all cushioned in a powerful melody.

54. Baekhyun & Loco: "Young"

Both of these artists have instantly recognisable and distinct voices, which when brought together, fit perfectly. The lethargic beat gives Baekhyun room to showcase the variations in his vocals, while Loco's rap bounces with energy. An unexpected but totally fun collaboration.

53. A-Mei: "Withdrawal Symptoms"

Slinky and sensual, there's something a little dangerous in the sound of this Taiwanese track that lures you in, and A-Mei's powerhouse vocals very much keep you there.

52. INFINITE: "Tell Me"

If you want infinitely (see what we did there) catchy melodies, INFINITE have them in spades. "Tell Me" is no exception, with its stop-start pacing and precise repetitive chorus, it hooks you in on first listen but seems to vary each time you return to it.

51. JBJ: "My Flower"

Beloved and regrettably shortlived, project group JBJ's biggest track "My Flower" is the perfect pop song. Taking cues from trop house and electronic music, it hooks you in with its easy-going springtime vibe.

What do you think of the list so far? We'll be revealing the top 50 on Monday 24 December so make sure to keep an eye out and share your thoughts!


 

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