21 Fantastic K-Pop Songs From 2018 That Slipped Under The Radar
It’s not always easy to keep up with all the new releases in K-pop, and with new singles and albums coming out almost every day, there are bound to be some amazing songs that don’t get nearly as much love as they deserve. But just because 2018 is over doesn’t mean it’s too late to discover under-appreciated songs from the year, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the best to get you started. In addition to these songs from the first half of 2018, here are 21 more tracks from the year that totally flew under the radar — but that are absolutely fantastic!
1. “Love Line” — TVXQ
First up, TVXQ’s charming “Love Line” was largely overshadowed by the duo’s sexier single “The Chance of Love” — which is too bad, since this upbeat track was the perfect spring release! Soft vocals and understated, catchy rhythms make this cheerful song an instant mood-lifter.
2. “Touch & Sketch” — VIXX’s Leo
The title track of Leo’s debut solo mini-album, “Touch & Sketch” is an irresistibly sensual exploration of art and passion. Leo’s characteristic breathy vocals glide over verses that build their way to a funky, sexy chorus that you won’t be able to get enough of.
3. “Summer Night’s Dream” — FTISLAND
Infectiously energetic, “Summer Night’s Dream” is the song of the summer that we all needed in 2018. But since it was way under-appreciated when it came out, let FTISLAND’s flawless vocals and hype guitar riffs warm your winter right up:
4. “Not That Type” — gugudan
gugudan brings the heat with “Not That Type,” a brassy and bold track that was one of the strongest girl-crush releases of 2018. The ladies show their vocal prowess on the harmonized bridge, building to an explosive hook that we guarantee will be stuck in your head all day.
5. “Blue” — SHINee’s Onew
SHINee’s leader gave us one of the most hauntingly beautiful ballads of the year (and also maybe ever) in “Blue,” with a gorgeous music video to match. Dramatic instrumentals accompany Onew’s rich vocals for a stirring piece that will give you the chills.
6. “Who Waits for Love” — SHINee
Onew is joined by his fellow SHINee members in “Who Waits for Love,” a b-side track from their “The Story of Light Ep. 2” mini-album. And while we could argue that the entire “The Story of Light” series was largely underrated, “Who Waits for Love” is so magnetic and powerful that it deserves a special mention — especially when the group’s live vocals are this incredible:
7. “Instant” — Block B’s Park Kyung feat. Sumin
“Instant” is a hidden gem from Block B’s Park Kyung, who wrote, composed, and produced the track himself. A jazzy number that is infectiously catchy from start to finish, “Instant” is not only playful but also thought-provoking, as the lyrics ponder how technology has changed our lives: it’s now easier to connect with people, but does that make relationships shallower?
8. “Blue Rose” — UP10TION
UP10TION continues to be an underrated group, and “Blue Rose” might be their strongest release yet. The track uses its powerful rhythms to push and pull you in, building masterfully to a chorus with unique beat drops that you’ll want to put on repeat.
9. “Woman” — BoA
“Woman” was one of the most powerful and empowering releases of 2018. Veteran K-pop queen BoA pairs her sharp vocals with funky bass as she shares a message of self-confidence in the lyrics: “I have the best inner beauty, feels good to be a woman.” Check out the fierce music video (and epic upside-down choreography) below:
10. “Cookies” — FTISLAND’s Lee Hong Ki feat. BTOB’s Ilhoon
Lee Hong Ki’s fall solo release, which he co-composed with BTOB’s Ilhoon, is as addicting as… well, cookies. With tropical house beats and the singer’s signature husky vocals, this track will make you want to get up and dance — and indeed, the promotional period for “Cookies” marks the first time that Lee Hong Ki has danced since his debut 11 years prior! Catch glimpses of his choreo in the MV:
11. “Always You” — ASTRO
More dramatic and mature than their past releases, “Always You” is a departure from ASTRO’s previously bright and youthful image. But the guys slay a moodier concept in this breathy single, unleashing strong vocals that sparkle around echoing synths.
12. “True Love” — INFINITE’s Sunggyu
It’s the rare song that can evoke the kind of feelings that “True Love” does, so get ready to feel a big blossom of warm happiness in your soul when the chorus of this one hits. Sunggyu’s velvety vocals guide us through an uplifting journey of affirmation: just click play, close your eyes, and smile — or watch INFINITE’s leader sing his way through this soothingly aesthetic MV:
13. “Genie” — Golden Child
We dare you to try to listen to “Genie” without smiling — this Golden Child bop is as bright and cheerful as it is infectious. The guys are bound to melt your heart with their sincere promise to grant you happiness, and we guarantee they’ll succeed in doing so for at least the duration of this song!
14. “No More” — UNI.T
“No More” highlights the vocal prowess of the nine top contestants from idol rebooting show “The Unit,” and these ladies have a lot to offer. The song is a retro, funky bop with a sultry vibe, and the UNI.T members deliver it with a compellingly mature sound, laying down the law to a love interest who keeps playing with their hearts.
15. “Yestoday” — NCT U
With so many subunits releasing so many tracks, it’s not surprising that one or two of NCT’s singles fell through the cracks, and NCT U’s “Yestoday” didn’t get nearly the attention as some of the group’s other 2018 releases did. But “Yestoday” is one of NCT’s more pensive and artistic releases, with rappers Taeyong, Mark, and Lucas reflecting on their pasts — and what they have had to give up for their present — while Doyoung’s rich vocals soulfully connect the three.
16. “Dejavu” — NU’EST W
NU’EST gained more attention in 2018, but the nostalgic “Dejavu” is way under-appreciated considering it is one of the most intriguing K-pop releases of the year. “Dejavu” is musically surprising, building up to a chorus that reigns the song in with intensely muted synths before expanding into a catchy hook. The song’s unique composition and NU’EST W’s flawless vocals make “Dejavu” an utterly entrancing listen.
17. “Crush” — Weki Meki
Weki Meki doesn’t disappoint with the fierce “Crush,” which has a driving beat and catchy synths that give it an old-school K-pop feel. But “Crush” is far from formulaic, and its tempo and rhythmic changes will keep you on your toes from start to end!
18. “Time of Sorrow” — VICTON
One of several nostalgic tracks on this list, “Time of Sorrow” distinguishes itself by highlighting the underrated talent of VICTON, especially in the understated, mournful raps. A beautifully wistful melody line accompanies the guys’ breathless vocals through this sentimental goodbye song.
19. “She’s Gone” — BTOB’s Ilhoon
Ilhoon puts a different spin on a goodbye with “She’s Gone,” the title single off the rapper’s first solo mini-album. There’s no room for regrets in this edgy track, which brings a rock-infused vibe and powerful guitar riffs for one of the more unique and genre-bending releases of 2018.
20. “What” — DreamCatcher
DreamCatcher’s signature rock sound is at its best in “What,” which features thumping, driving beats as the girls plead to be woken up from the nightmare they’re trapped in. The song is not only addictive but also impressive, with soaring notes that give these ladies the chance to prove what vocal powerhouses they are.
21. “Now or Never” — SF9
Last but not least, SF9 are the epitome of cool in “Now or Never,” dancing around bubbly synths with their crisp vocals before breaking it down into a huskier, sexier chorus with the deeper notes of Hwiyoung and Chani. Just like they’ve fallen hard and fast for a girl in “Now or Never,” you’ll immediately fall for this irresistible song!
Hey Soompiers, which of these songs flew under your radar? Which ones are your new favorites? Let us know in the comments!
hgordon stays up way too late on weeknights marathoning K-dramas and trying to keep up with the latest K-pop releases.