It's the final countdown!
24 Dec 2018 - 8:37 AM  UPDATED 24 Dec 2018 - 8:37 AM

We've been counting down PopAsia's Top 100 songs of the year since Friday and now we have the final top 50 for you. Don't forget to check out songs 100-51 here.

Check out the list and tell us where your faves came in and revel in what a year 2018 has been for Asian pop!

50. Wanna One: Boomerang

Charisma is key to this dance-pop gem, it's also the crux of Wanna One's success. As they reach the end of their contracts and prepare to branch off into other groups and careers, this electronic delight will remain a firm K-pop favourite in years to come.

49. GOT7: Lullaby

A mid-tempo bop that cranks it up a notch for the chorus, "Lullaby" is a great example of GOT7's individual skills, from BamBam's distinctive rap to Youngjae and JB's smooth vocals.

48. SHINee: Good Evening

In a time of uncertainty and grief, SHINee returned with a song boasting twinkling synths, a thumping beat and an experimental twist. Once more proving that they are light years ahead of the pack, and limitless in their range.

47. GFriend: Time For The Moon Night

From the simple vocal-centric opening through to the dramatic strings, this song takes you on a ride going from gentle to soaring high, with plenty of catchy hooks to keep you singing along.

46. Day6: Shoot Me

K-pop rock is entering a new era and Day6 are very much going to be at the forefront when it breaks worldwide. A tame opener ramps up the tension before combusting with pent-up energy, with drums that replicate the 'bang! bang!' that they shout in unison. It's shout-along, dance-along music at its best.

45. King & Prince: Cinderella Girl

This group from Johnny & Associate's sub-label Johnny's Universe have had one of the strongest debuts in J-pop history. "Cinderella Girl" not only soundtracked Boys Over Flowers 2 this year, it became the first debut single in over 12 years to exceed initial sales of 500,000 copies. 


A sly shout out to invasive media and online gossip, IU's wordplay using references to football cards and referees keeping a line in check is cut-throat while the music is a contrasting sweet bop.

43. SEVENTEEN: Thanks

It's endlessly fascinating listening to how SEVENTEEN manage to fit 13 voices into one song so seamlessly. This song dedicated to fans and laden with gratitude feels as operatic as the emotions its lyrics convey, and sweeps you up from the first notes.

42. GOT7: Look

There's a particular formula GOT7 have used this year for their two biggest songs: it's gentle verse that escalates into a foot-tapping synth pay-off. "Look" uses 90s dance music piano melodies to lure you in with the chorus, and Jackson's gravel rap seals the deal.

41. AKB48: Jabaja

AKB48's 51st single, this time with Nana Okada as centre, sold over a million copies on its first day. An easy-listening, bubbly pop track with celebratory horns throughout, it's easy to see why it was so popular on release.


At times boldly experimental, the next moment the purest of electronic pop, "BOSS" is enigmatic from beginning to end. Lucas' deep voice, Jungwoo's crystal clear vocals, not to mention Taeyong and Mark's electric dynamic: all these elements combined heralded NCT's arrival into 2018. And what a year it was for them.

39. EXID: I Love You

OT5 EXID made a hook-laden earworm that bursts forth with 90s hip-hop percussion, 80s synths and so much attitude, all you can do is sing along and try to be as cool as them.

38. (G)I-DLE: Latata

Definitely one of the best rookie debuts of recent years, Jeon Soyeon's distinctive voice is instantly memorable before the chorus kicks in to fully whisk you away into (G)I-DLE's world.

37. VIXX: Scentist

Subtlety is the secret killer on this track. Metaphors overwhelm the lyrics of a person's power as perfume, in an alluring song that gives VIXX full reign to be as devastatingly sensual as possible.

36. Perfume: Mugen Mirai

This J-pop trio's single epitomises the title of their album, Future Pop. Using autotune vocals and slow-build synths to create a dreamy atmosphere, it feels truly futuristic.

35. Apink: I'm So Sick

The duality of exciting disco vibes alongside lyrics that are lamenting a romance that's more difficult than it's worth, is one of many things that makes this song a sparkling pop diamond.


Taiwanese actor-singer Nick Chou aka NICKTHEREAL came out with a moody hip-hop cut this year featuring the cocky refrain of 'I'm the man' that makes it perfect for audience singalongs.

33. NCT 127: Regular

Released in English and Korean, this song is fantastically ambitious. The members fantasise of future riches while taking on the peaking Latin pop crossover trend. Even though the lyrics are a touch cheesy, you still sing along as if you've got all the money in the world.

32. MONSTA X: Shoot Out

This song is so obviously MONSTA X, which is a true compliment. Crafting your own recognisable sound in K-pop is difficult, yet there's no denying from the first aggressive beat that it's them. The rappers shine as always here, both Jooheon and IM having unique vocal ticks that keep you coming back.

31. CLC: Black Dress

How are CLC still so underrated? This song is as slinky as the black dress it sings of, pulsing like you should be dancing to it exclusively in the club.

30. AKB48: Teacher Teacher

One of AKB48's biggest songs this year, this techno-pop hit is impossibly catchy with 28 members singing (and in the music video) dancing in perfect unison.

29. Nogizaka46: Jikochu de ikou

Somewhere in between a pop and rock song, the guitars here give the whole track a rollicking feel, bound to make any listener happy.

28. iKON: Killing Me

In their year's narrative of heartbreak songs, this darker pop tune is "Love Scenario"'s cool brother. B.I.'s ongoing exploration of heartbreak's many angles, from gratefulness to devastation and acceptance, has allowed him to step up as one of the best songwriters in K-pop right now.

27. Jonghyun: Shinin'

Sparkling as its title suggests, Jonghyun preceded all the retro hits this year by going disco first with this song, proving again that he was an immense talent with infinite potential. His voice alone is a pleasure to listen to; no one sounded nor will sound like him.

26. Kris Wu: Tian Di

As Kris Wu charges into the mainstream, the standout track from his debut full-length Antares is this Mandarin half-sung, half-rapped song that floats dreamily before slamming down a deep bass. A definitive call of Wu's new agenda, he calls out those who doubt his ambitions and strides forward.

25. Chungha: Roller Coaster

A shimmering pop confection that's elevated by Chungha's effortlessly stunning vocals, "Roller Coaster" sparkles with that particular feeling you get first falling in love.

24. BTS: Singularity

From V's deep vocals to the minimal funk bass and piano propelling the rhythm, "Singularity" is breathtaking, teasing in its languid pace and melancholic undertones. It's essentially a work of art.

23. J-Hope: Daydream

This is what sunshine sounds like if it was produced by one of K-pop's biggest stars. While it bops along with tambourine and addictive percussion, the lyrics go deeper as J-Hope confronts the juxtaposition of daydreaming despite living a dream life.

22. MAMAMOO: Starry Night

Acoustic guitar and finger snaps are all this song needs to immediately hook you in. The Latin pop vibes abound while the girls' voices shine as powerfully as you'd expect for a group where each member is a gifted vocalist.

21. EXO: Tempo

EXO gone hyper-experimental, "Tempo" is a song that only a powerhouse like them could perform. The bed squeak sample, screeching synths, creeping bass - all climaxing in the acapella drop - is sheer madness contained in a four-minute pop song. In anyone else's hands it'd be a chaotic mess, with EXO it's a testament to their talents.

20. Kenshi Yonezu: Flamingo

Yonezu's voice is truly entrancing, he dips from high to low tones frenetically, in perfect harmony with the cacophony in the background. Looping samples, horns and a simple bass chord progression all blend under his lyrics of vivid love and its illusions, to make a stand-out pop song. 

19. MOMOLAND: Bboom Bboom

What needs to be said about this cheery tune? All it takes is a second of the intro and you already know what you're in for. The purest of bubblegum pop that'll compel you to sing along.

18. Bich Phuong: Bua Yeu

Vietnamese singer Bich Phuong plays perfectly to her strengths on this R&B pop song, calling out to the person she wants to love her, with the hypnotic refrain of "if you love me, say that you do".

17. Wil Pan ft Tia Ray: Moonlight

Stomping percussion starts off this epic pop song, where Wil Pan's rapping is the perfect companion to Tia Ray's soaring vocals. An underdog story that sounds like a movie theme song, it gets your blood pumping.

16. Keyakizaka46: Ambivalent

Frenetically paced to match the lyrics that sing of confusion between wanting to be alone but needing someone to share life with, this track is fast, frantic and most of all, very fun.

15. Xiao Bing Chih: Missing You

The Taiwanese singer's year was massive, with his comeback topping the charts in China. This heartfelt ballad was a particular favourite, with all the elements that make a tearjerking song on full display.

14. NCT U: Baby Don't Stop

As the rhythm kicks off on this song, you know it's here to ruin you. Ten and Taeyong are perfectly matched, whispering seductively and inducing chills on an understated but elegantly refined track.

13. BIGBANG: Flower Road

No promotion, no music video, just a remnant track from the MADE era, even a BIGBANG b-cut is a gold track. Nostalgic in a way that clenches the heart a little, the flower road is the perfect motif for fans waiting for the legends to return.

12. TWICE: What is Love?

TWICE tap into wide-eyed innocence in a song that curiously questions love as seen in books and movies, and wonders if it could be real. It's a feel-good song from the current queens of K-pop.

11. Sunmi: Siren

A siren calling to her fans, a siren signalling a warning; these are all metaphors playing in the lyrics of Sunmi's gloriously lavish, incessantly catch retro-influenced track.

10. Nogizaka46: Synchronicity

The 20th single from the J-pop idol girl group, this song sold over a million copies in its first week and topped all the Japanese singles charts with its sparkling bright pop vibes.

9. G.E.M.: Tik Tok

Chinese pop phenomenon G.E.M. gave us a mid-tempo pop song telling the story of infinite, unconditional love throughout life that showcases her vocal powers in full flight.

8. PENTAGON: Shine

It's bittersweet to think PENTAGON's biggest hit came alongside their loss of E'Dawn after the controversy surrounding his two-year relationship with fellow Cube Entertainment artist HyunA. "Shine" became a sleeper hit for a reason: it's unashamedly open-hearted and buoyant. Its flawless positivity, as they claim their idiocy in the face of love, is simple but also its biggest strength.


Kicking down the door and stomping inside with attitude, the chorus alone is the stuff of producer dreams. The girls brag and swagger, Rosie and Jisoo's vocals in particular radiating an instantly appealing energy. The tune has all the makings of a classic YG banger, and that's exactly why it works so well.

6. SƠN TÙNG M-TP: Run Now

Melancholic lyrics are cleverly disguised under a slinky beat on this song from the Vietnamese pop/R&B star. The production is crisp and clever, the rhythm made for dancing and his voice goes from singing to rapping in a heartbeat in a song that shapeshifts from first note to last.


The realisation stage of BTS' Love Yourself narrative, "FAKE LOVE" haunts with its lyrics detailing regret and sorrow of a love that couldn't be fulfilled. The music takes a turn for the darker too, utilising electric guitars and deeper tones to reflect the mood of forthcoming loss as they sing of disappearing selves, lost identity and confusion in the midst of fake love.

4. Red Velvet: Bad Boy

That opening line from Irene alone - "who that, who that boy?" - should be enough to seal the deal. The darker side of Red Velvet comes out in fierce and full effect on "Bad Boy", an anthem for a woman in control. Every second of this song commands your attention, in the same way the lyrics command the object of the members' affections to listen and follow.

3. iKON: Love Scenario

Was there a song more ubiquitous, more of an earworm, than "Love Scenario" this year? Even non-Korean speakers found themselves singing along. The nursery rhyme chords set up a simple musical premise that's elevated by the refreshing, if bittersweet, take on a break-up. Again, B.I's gifted lyricism shines through in the small details, like the mention of "the tingly feeling between my rib bones" and the ending cry of "we've been hurt/been ridiculously jealous/been madly in love/and that is enough". Intensely relatable and overwhelmingly catchy, it's a snapshot of emotion encased in pop perfection.

2. Kenshi Yonezu: Lemon

A song about grief and sorrow but unexpectedly bright, "Lemon" was the standout release in Japanese music this year. Yonezu's lyrics avoid the obvious, making the song a universal anthem for anyone who's lost a loved one, whether that's in death or romance. The music is all big gestures, from crashing drums to endlessly lifting strings, making for an operatic rock song that leaves an indelible impression.


The culmination of the Love Yourself series, this culture melding, bombastic song is almost obscenely confident. BTS come bursting in from the get-go, collaging elements from western pop, Afrobeat and traditional Korean music to perfectly encapsulate their borderless influence. Proudly claiming their heritage while simultaneously nodding to their worldwide impact, the lyrics show them firm in their stance, having reached the final conclusion: that they control their fate, that no one else's words matter, and that they do - in fact - love themselves.


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PopAsia's Top 100 Asian pop songs of 2018: 100-51
What's been your favourite song of the year?