Notes on K-pop album faves 2022

Notes on K-pop, aka Tamar Herman's, favorite albums of the year

Happy 2023, everyone!

A bit late, but I hope everyone enjoys this 2022 K-pop albums list. All the same disclaimers as the song’s list remains the same, so please head over to read that explainer about why I’m not doing a Best of K-pop (and K-pop-adjacent) list, and why these aren’t ranked. TLDR: If your favorite release isn’t here, it’s not because I don’t like it and absolutely hate your fave (I don’t, for the record), I just didn’t have an emotional connection with it last year, and that’s fine! This is a personal substack, and we’re not going to shame anyone for their taste here.

Speaking of, please share your thoughts in the comments so I can hear all your suggestions.

One observation… Although my song’s list was very female-dominated, I noticed while writing this that it felt a lot more even between men and women, partially because some songs that I enjoyed on their own really took off especially well while they were part of the larger story of an album, elevating a song from a singular instance that I felt was just okay into something truly monumental.

Addendum: I started working on this at the end of December and hoped to get this out the first week of January, but unfortunately I got sick. It ultimately turned out that I had covid so I had to push off working on it while I spent time focusing on my health. I ended up powering through, but if there are any weird moments that are full of typos or just simply don’t make sense, let’s blame the cough meds I was taking so please let me know so that I can fix them. I hope everyone’s staying well and takes care throughout 2023 and the years to come.

Now, without further ado…

Stray Kids - Oddinary EP

ODDINARY - Album by Stray Kids | Spotify

In recent years, Stray Kids have rapidly become one of the most popular rising K-pop boy bands, building up a fervent following of Stays around the world, both thanks to their music and the members’ personalities and skills. As they’ve grown, a key element of their songwriting and performances is a quasi thespian-style approach, putting a dramatic, thematic spin on things. Oddinary is a great rendition of that, with its attempt at exploring how the odd is ordinary, blending gritty, at times industrial, hip-hop and a rather bellecoise take on pop with sentimental, impactful lyricism littered throughout.

Seulgi - 28 Reasons EP

SEULGI – 28 Reasons Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

Within Red Velvet, Seulgi’s drawn on a veritable rainbow of musical colors, but when it came to her first solo album things get dark extremely fast, impassioned red and black defining this palette. Dramatic groove and R&B enrobe Seulgi’s versatile voice on 28 Reasons, giving it room to dance alongside the singer herself, who has always made her own any choreography that comes her way. There’s a bit of an edge to the album, which kicks off with the rather nefarious duo of the title track followed by Dead Man Running. The duo make way for the rest of its excellent tracks, which generally spend some time in one genre before flexing another. Los Angeles, for example, introduces itself as a laidback EDM tune before dropping some techno beats that instantly bring vogueing to mind. Each song paints a sonic picture of a specific dance genre or era, evocative to the nth degree.


SAAY - S:INEMA - Reviews - Album of The Year

It’s been a long run for Saay, who started out in girl group EvoL, and writing for acts including Baekhyun, Twice, aespa and Billlie. She has spent the last few years telling her own story, and this year’s absolutely stunner of an album turns the lens, or mic rather, onto her own brand of alt R&B tunes, using her deep voice as the script and jazzy tunes as the setting, with frequent hip-hop features and rock moments blended in. This is an album best listened to in one go, more like a movie than a television episode, each song setting the scene but coming together to set the loungy mood for its length.

ONEWE - Planet Nine : Voyager EP

Planet Nine : VOYAGER - Ep by ONEWE | Spotify

The blending of ONEWE’s singers and their orchestral sense of pop-rock has had its grip in my soul ever since I first heard a song by them, and Planet Nine: Voyager is an EP that shows exactly what is so engaging. These six tracks are full of drama and sentimentality, and ONEWE plays with the intense ride, or voyage, of the journey they take. You get everything from rollicking anthems (Montage_) to songs like Trigger_, which starts off rather groovy before turning into a grim hard rock call for change, with raps and taunts thrown in to really raise some eyebrows. The overall theatricality of ONEWE’s music always makes me keep coming back to them, and Planet Nine: Voyager is another addition to their engaging discography.

Oh My Girl - Real Love LP

Real Love - Album by OH MY GIRL | Spotify

Based on my own limited experience I think Real Love may be the most slept-on album in 2022 from a K-pop girl group, which is kind of fascinating considering how good of a 2020 and 2021 Oh My Girl had. This LP is a pure joy in how it feels very typically OMG in its sweet and bubbly quirkiness, but also at times swerves in brand new directions. To quote one reddit comment I spotted that made me laugh so I bookmarked it specifically with this blurb in mind: “never did i expect oh my girl to do oontz-oontz music and never did i expect myself to enjoy it so much.” Reddit user romancevelvet wrote this specifically about Replay in particular, but I felt like the “never did I expect oh my girl to”-ness felt telling and also applied to other songs on the album: with a sizable discography already under their belt, we have a real sense of who Oh My Girl are to the degree that this album is almost stereotypically them, until it’s not. Like on Dear Rose, which spends most of its existence as a cute, bubble electro-pop tune with some trap beats before plummeting towards a dramatic EDM bridge. While not every song is defined by that, it feels as a whole that the album plays with finding a middle ground between the more typical “lovely, feminine” girl group aesthetics and the more  “girl crush, bold” trendy ones, with every lighter, more soft, folksy pop-rock moment getting an infusion of chill electronica, exemplified on Drip. Oh My Girl has always showed excellence  as singers, and this album really worked as an attempt to see how far the OMG style can be pushed while still maintaining what their music has always been about.

Onew - DICE EP

DICE - The 2nd Mini Album - Ep by ONEW | Spotify

This year’s album from Onew is so essentially-SHINee in style that it feels like a follow up to a lot of what the band has put forth in recent years, especially since 2015’s Odd Eye. But while he offers up the synthpop and groovy funk that is typical of the group as a whole, it’s a bit more laidback shoegaze and dreamy soft pop than they typically veer towards (at least to create a whole album out of), which suits Onew particularly well. Onew may have been initially known primarily as a solo balladeer, as on 2018’s Voice, but this aesthetic album redefines who the star is and where he’s going as a soloist.

NCT Dream - Glitch Mode/ Beatbox LP

Beatbox - song and lyrics by NCT DREAM | Spotify

Having started out as the youth-oriented NCT team, it’s been a lot of fun to watch NCT Dream’s music develop over the years as the members have grown from teens into their 20s. Initially aligned mostly with saccharine bubblegum pop and overall enthusiastic, they’ve dabbled with more “mature” elements over the years, going full-throttle with intense EDM and hip-hop. Beatbox, and the initial version Glitch Mode, find a great middle ground, where there’s a sense of youthful vitality throughout its assortment of ‘90s and ‘00s-inspired tracks. This is an album that feels like a soundtrack of all the emotions of early adulthood, as the Dreamies relay everything from overconfident brashness to uncertainty and tenderness.

NCT 127 - 2 Baddies LP

2 Baddies - The 4th Album - Album by NCT 127 | Spotify

Everyone out there and their mothers probably know by now that NCT 127 is defined by a reputation of making “noise music,” aka intensely experimental, oftentimes aggressive music that plays around with everything and anything under the sun. Sometimes it works better than others, and when it does it absolutely soars. Regardless, that reputation probably makes their albums a bit of a surprise for casual audiences who know their singles but have never put an album on. While, yes, they do indeed have the higher energy moments, kicking off 2 Baddies with the intense duo of Faster and and the title track, beyond their experimental singles, NCT 127 is at its best a group of alt R&B balladeers and sweet pop heartthrobs. 2 Baddies revels in this, and throws in some of the retro funk and hip-hop that truly defined 2022 amid their more tender and sensual moments.  Their repackage is days away from coming as I publish this, and I for one am eager to see how Ay-Yo expands on the seismic sense of 2 Baddies.

Miyeon - MY EP

MY - Ep by MIYEON | Spotify

If you asked me in January 2022, who within (G)I-dle I’d like to see have a solo album the most that year, I probably would have said Yuqi or Minnie, since I’ve always especially enjoyed both of their musical styles and I’m intrigued to see what stories they’d like to tell on a full album. For Miyeon to share herself with us all on MY, a rather straightforward album, it felt like seeing the singer anew; I thought I knew what she had to offer, but lead single Drive kicks off with ferocious, inspiring synth-rock, and her airy tone is literally the force driving it, and the entire album. The album, which is awash in soft pop and R&B, is soothing and relatable, almost feeling like gentle flowers and pastels turned to tune. It arrived at a really unsettled time in my life, and I felt solace in how almost simple it is in its intent to relay Miyeon’s perspective and feelings

Seventeen - Face the Sun + Sector 17 LP

SEVENTEEN 4th Album Repackage 'SECTOR 17' - Album by SEVENTEEN | Spotify

Face the Sun is an album that relays Seventeen’s determination to heat up the industry in a way that is full of both energy and the joie de vivre that has defined their music since their earliest days. While they’re no longer presenting the super cutesy Adore U-style songs on Face the Sun, there is still an overwhelming sense of energizing quixoticsm, and not only on Don Quixote. The initial single pairing of Darling and HOT, one light-hearted and one overwhelmingly driven by sirens and clap-happy beats, really showcase this, each delivering a different facet of the 17 carat boy band while still maintaining their distinct sense of self, both ambitious and dynamic while also dedicated to festive and sweet moments.

NewJeans - New Jeans EP

NewJeans 1st EP 'New Jeans' - Ep by NewJeans | Spotify

Anytime we discuss the music of 2022 in the future, NewJeans is going to be a must-discuss, both for the buzz around it and its musical value. With some of the most lush throwback R&B and pop melodies this side of the 1990s, the brief EP makes room both for its aesthetics and introducing the NewJeans’ members, each voice presented on every track with distinction. Although there was, and continues to be, controversy surrounding the group’s launch and some of the songs on the album, you cannot deny the thrall of the musical perfection that is New Jeans.

Max Changmin - Devil EP

Devil - The 2nd Mini Album - Ep by MAX CHANGMIN | Spotify

In the world of my fantasies, Changmin would be singing at a lounge club dinner show every night, or at least on the weekends. Devil made me even more sure of this with its jazzy, R&B slant featured on each track, with a charming bossa nova flare enhancing it all. Though this is most certainly a testament to his singing, the TVXQ! member doesn’t stray too far from his roots in boy bandom, still feeling exceedingly larger-than-life thanks to the sheer magnitude of his vocal prowess painting dramatic imagery as he riffs on funk and whimsical electronica.

Luli Lee - Fade Away Like a Dream LP

Fade Away Like A Dream - Album by Luli Lee | Spotify

Lush synths, rich bass-fronted rock, and airy vocals are defining elements of indie artist Luli Lee’s sound, and Fade Away Like a Dream lives up to its title while floating on these mainstays of Lee’s. As grungy as it is ambient, the star of the show is Lee’s multifaceted voice, acting like different singers on songs where she simultaneously is restrained then explosive, or sharp then sweet, sometimes even doing away without any musical backing just to let her tone shine. 2022 was a year that felt excessive and overwhelming at times, but Fade Away Like a Dream is mediative and soothing even at its most intense dance moments, perfect for a time of chaos when you simultaneously  want to both dance the night away but also never leave your bed.

Le Sserafim - Antifragile EP


As good as Le Sserafim’s first EP, Fearless, was, Antifragile really was where it feels like they found their surefooting as a new team that feels like they’re ready to punch well beyond their weight level and take on the world. Opening with the multi-lingual spoken word track The Hydra, declaring their identity as an ever-growing in popularity polyglot of a K-pop group, they then lay forth a rousing slew of songs that bounce between reggaeton, pop-punk, and R&B. The combination of the quartet’s distinct voices are really the stars, but the songwriting is so pristine that this is one album that, even as it claims to show you all their impurities, is practically flawless.

Key - Gasoline LP

Gasoline - The 2nd Album - Album by KEY | Spotify

Being born the same week as Key, the fact that he went back to his (our) childhood for inspiration immediately called to me once he started promoting Gasoline. Key’s early musical influences are apparent on tracks that draw on R&B, funk, hip-hop and throwback pop. The title track kicks everything off in a rather bold way, but altogether the feel of Gasoline is overall less brash popstar Key as we know him - though that is also present - and more Kim Kibum in his most confident, earnest and relaxed, with the majority of the tracks maintaining a mid tempo over dynamic explosions. This is an album created by man who knows what he wants to do with his craft, and knows how to create it in the most engaging of ways drawn on his own experiences and fond memories.

j-hope - Jack in the Box EP

Jack In The Box - Album by j-hope | Spotify

With a callback to old school hip-hop and alt rock, Jack in the Box arrived as the first official solo album from any BTS member after a series of mixtapes (mostly meaning the earlier stuff wasn’t available on typical DSPs). Its also arrived with a sense of ambition that matches the artists’ skill. Confident in his abilities and assured of the messages he wants to relay - which range from exploring his ambition to celebrating differences - j-hope’s album isn’t confined by expectations, bringing j-hope’s solo artistry to a dramatically different place than earlier releases, less upbeat and more finely tuned. That doesn’t mean the brightness of hope isn’t there, but rather the (j-)hope portrayed on Jack in the Box jumps out at you in the way it is full of tracks that are both headbanging and heart-pulling.

Minho - Chase EP

CHASE - The 1st Mini Album - Ep by MINHO | Spotify

This is going to sound a bit rude, but I’m so mad (playfully!) that dibidibidis my name is Minho put out one of my favorite albums of the year. Minho has always been a stalwart performer among SHINee but honestly I don’t know what I thought his music direction would so I was thrilled on first listen of Chase when I immediately fell for his approach. It’s just so smooth and laidback, almost pristine in its pop and R&B simplicity, with tastes of of hip-hop, electronica, and even traditional Korean music. It’s been over a decade since we met SHINee’s rapper and singer Minho and actor Choi Min-ho, but on Chase it feels like an introduction to the star. It’s not a groundbreaking album in the larger scale of pop music history, but Minho is out there breaking ground for himself, shoveling up everything we, or at least I, thought we knew about him, and re-planting it anew with precision.

iKON - Flashback EP

FLASHBACK - Ep by iKON | Spotify

Newtro, thy name is Flashback. Writing this a few days after iKon announced they’re parting ways with YG Entertainment feels a bit bittersweet to be honest, because it was one of my favorite EPs this year. With a clear identity explored throughout, each track feels like it’s pulled from a different early iKon album and revitalized with new life. It’s a bit more relaxed than other iKon albums perhaps, with a bit more emphasis on balladry and melodicism, but there’s still an emphasis on their hip-hop flare, with some synthwave added for some bonus nostalgia points. As the finale of the first act of their career, this is an utterly satisfying album, and it’s going to be fascinating to see what comes next.

Enhypen - Dimension: Answer LP


On Dimension: Answer, Enhypen add more wood onto the burning fire of their already fast-paced career, propelling it forward with an album that spends its time pushing-and-pulling the act back and forth between sentimentality and intensity. The duality seems intentional, as it always does with the hyphen-inclined group, and it’s no surprise that some of the brightest moments on Dimension: Answer are the ones that feel the most polarizing on first listen. Though it was mostly released last year, the repackage edition of this album with single Blessed-Cursed and the very beloved viral-ready Polaroid Love elevates it.

Dreamcatcher - [Apocalypse : Save us]  LP

Apocalypse : Save us] - Album by Dreamcatcher | Spotify

As they’ve developed their career, Dreamcatcher has surely become the leaders of K-pop-rock as its developed in recent years, thanks to their intense dedication to the genre, particularly harder and metal rock. But rock has historically often been a medium of rebellion and calls for social justice and/or against political inequity, and for Dreamcatcher to turn Apocalypse: Save us’s single Maison into a call for climate change, it feels momentus enough for the band. But then you sit down and listen to everything else on the album and it’s even more awe-inspiring. There isn’t just the more-or-less Dreamcatcher as we know them with their always-reliable dance-rock tunes (though there is that), but there’s a foray into Dreamcatcher as soloists, pulling loose the threads that weave together to form Dreamcatcher and giving each woman her chance to breathe life into a distinct tune and genre. I’m particularly fond of Siyeon’s poignant, K-drama OST ready Entrancing, but really each song shows us Dreamcatcher’s talent, stripping back the pomp and flare of the band and shining light on the humans that make it up.

DPR Ian  - Moodswings in to Order LP

Moodswings In To Order - Album by DPR IAN | Spotify

DPR Ian has been very frank how his mental health struggles (he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his youth) have inspired his rather haunting musical takes on alt r&B, and Moodswings in This Order continues his investigation into the psyche using the characters he creates to tell their own stories. Ambient, sonorous vocals are distorted, and the first few songs feel as if a radio’s static is splicing the moments. But then, as if emulating  the switches between moodswings,  the songs cling more to traditional genre boundaries and become a bit more vibrant, the final portion of the album seeing the grimness giving way to feel good danceable moments as Ian plays around with techno and pop.

BIBI - Lowlife Princess: Noir LP

Lowlife Princess: Noir - Album by BIBI | Spotify

Imagined as a futuristic retelling of Park Chan-wook's film Lady Vengeance, BIBI's rich tones and penchant for melodrama serve up a noir-inspired soundscape on Lowlife Princess, impersonating everything from a betrayed bad bitch ready to take down the machine to a mother to a lover. The artist brought her all into this album, to the degree that it caused concern among her fans about how intense of a process it was for her, and it’s apparent why. Energized desperation drives much of the music, which is quartered into different acts that each finds its own footing while BIBI’s brand of saucy alt R&B and hip-hop crafts a invigorating story that’s hard to turn away from.

baehyuni - ZYZZ EP

자유주제 ZYZZ - song and lyrics by baehyuni | Spotify

I cannot stop turning to this album to digest once again what baehyuni has to offer. ZYZZ feels like an electronica indie alternative to the experimental, over-the-top-ness that K-pop was once defined by. At times it kind of feels like baehyuni puts an entire library of music samples into blenders, with each of the tracks on the album unravelling at different points. At times the electric guitar riffs feel like a childhood memory, before baehyuni or a collaborator’s call outs feel like the world raining on your parade, as jazzy sax mocks you. Each song is scratched apart with every moment bringing new quirks, kind of like that black-into-colors scratch paper kids draw with. This is not an album for everyone, but it’s an album full of everything.

Whee In - WHEE EP

WHEE - Ep by Whee In | Spotify

The cover of Whee is an explosion of color and glam, with sparkles, pearls, and cartoonish drawings. The photo hints to the feelings presented on WHEE, which captures the elegance of Whee In’s tone and emotions in six kind of romantic, kind of freewheeling, tracks, like the feeling of looking at glitter or something shiny turned into song. The album is largely full of jazzy soft-pop moments blended with more carefree, danceable ones as Whee In explores what lightness she has to offer the world. I have to be admit that I listened to the album for the first time during a particularly rough week of 2022 (if this sounds familiar, spring was a tough time in my life!), and listening to it felt like a conversation with a friend over a glass of wine in our favorite cozy bar, and I haven’t stopped feeling that way ever since, with each listen bringing a sense of closeness and joy.

Younha - End Theory: Final Edition LP

YOUNHA 6th Album Repackage 'END THEORY : Final Edition' - Album by Younha |  Spotify

It’s me, the fangirl who has loved Younha since her earliest pop idol days, through her therapeutic low days, and now through her resurgence as the provider of sleeper hits in 2022. I was going to write about one song or another for my SOTY list, but ultimately I couldn’t decide and realized it’s just because this album is so good.  As a singer-songwriter, Younha simply gets the human experience and puts it to music that always, always hits the right note, at least for me. End Theory is ebullient in the way it races with momentum towards the human existence that Younha, and we all, are living in. All of its highs and lows are reflected in not only her poignant, powerful voice, but also in the way that it’s so subtly a celebration of Younha and how she approaches her music. There’s c/2022YH, which takes her back to her pop-rock days and recalls her 2007 hit Comet. There’s How U Doing, which she performed while incorporating sign language to make her music accessible. Younha is approaching the second decade of her career, but that there’s still a bit of rawness and earnestness on each song, that just calls to you as a listener. It’s no wonder that Event Horizon eventually went viral and brought Younha to the center of 2022; in a year dictated by overwhelming nostalgia, her timelessness brought to the TikTok timeline.

Tomorrow X Together - minisode 2: Thursday’s Child EP

minisode 2: Thursday's Child - Ep by TOMORROW X TOGETHER | Spotify

If you, like most people on planet Earth it feels, recently watched Netflix’s Wednesday, you might be familiar with the line from the nursery rhyme from which the titular Addams character gets her name: “Wednesday's child is full of woe,” her mother quotes. The next phrase, “Thursday's child has far to go” encapsulates the ethos of TXT’s second minisode, which spends its brevity as if emphasising, and even saying on the titular b-side, that they’re still in the sophomoric days of their career, with room to go. Because of it, it feels like there’s a sense of juvenile questioning and wistfulness pervasive, the way a teenager is aware of expectations of adulthood and the sweetness of childhood passed, but not knowing either in earnestness. Throughout Thursday’s Child, there’s balladry, synthpop and groovy hip-hop reflections on wealth disparity, loneliness, and rambunctious poptimism about the future. It may be rather short, but the musings capture their subject matter a way that leaves you eager to see how far TXT can go.

Taeyeon - INVU

INVU - The 3rd Album - Album by TAEYEON | Spotify

In her music video for the single INVU, Taeyeon takes on the role of a captivating goddess, drawing on the mythology of the Greco-Roman goddess Artemis (Diana). Though there is a larger mythos surrounding the music video and how it relates to the title track, it feels very fitting that Taeyeon embodies a goddess while promoting this album, as there is an overall sense of otherworldly captivation once you delve into it. Taeyeon’s voice is one of the richest, most-talented that South Korean music industry has seen over the past decade and a half, and on INVU it delves into depths of genres that she’s long played around with as a soloist, predominantly dance, pop-rock and balladry, and goes deeper, with the music, her voice, and the production leaving an aural resonance behind each moment of every song. While Taeyeon’s spent her entire career being one of the Girls’, INVU is the maturation of her into the height of womanhood, strength and softness woven into each tune.

Moon Byul - 6equence EP

6equence - Ep by Moon Byul | Spotify

Listening to 6equence from start to finish is a must: as the title suggests, this is a sequence of six songs that the Mamamoo member is serving up to us all on a platter. It takes a leisurely stroll through the groovy, all around chill tracks, with the singer-rapper flitting between full-blown nostalgia, like on the new jack swing of G999 with Mirani, or slinky r&B on Shutdown with Seori. The single Lunatic is a take on rambunctious funk, with a penchant for showing up where it’s least expected as she professes her uniqueness, which fits as every single song on 6equence similarly shows different facets of Moon Byul’s musicality.

Lee Chanhyuk -Error LP

ERROR - Album by LEE CHANHYUK | Spotify

If you know the “get it girl, give us nothing meme” I feel like that’s the opposite of what AKMU’s Lee Chanhyuk did with his Error album. Lee has long been renowned as a songwriter, but on Error he looks back on his career thus far and re evaluates it, reintroducing himself with his typical brand of laidback introspection, playing around with the folksy, playful pop people know him, and AKMU, for. But he also releases the reigns throughout the album, letting the energy explode with bursts of EDM and hip-hop. Error is jam packed with feeling, thematically is inspired by an apparent conversation that Lee had with himself about his mortality and his legacy. Although it’s never overwrought, at times the ferocity of the questions the 26-year-old grapples with as he ages takes center stage amid all the synths, techno and balladry.

Honorable mentions:

ONF’s Special Album [Storage of ONF] is such an excellent album, but because it’s half-filled with remastered versions of earlier releases I’m not sure if it particularly counts as a 2022 release. But I hope you all listen and fall for ONF’s music before they return from the army this year. They enlisted together, and have become rather popular in the military, so I’m hoping the second half of 2023 is ONF’s time to thrive.

Blackpink’s Born Pink is a long-awaited, very beloved release, but it’s so very classic Blackpink that I honestly don’t feel like it lived up to the multi-year delay. For all of us who love Blackpink it’s a really enjoyable release, and I especially loved seeing - and singing along to! -  every song when I saw them perform live this year, but it offers relatively little new to the group’s musical evolution, rather returning them to their comfort zone with aplomb and flare. There’s nothing wrong about that, but every time I listened I just felt like this quartet is being a bit stifled in a box of their own genre, which definitely works but I hope we can take the lid off for future releases.

Billlie’s the collective soul and unconscious: chapter one Original Soundtrack from "what is your B?" and the Billage of perception: chapter two Original Soundtrack from “the end of the world and the awakening” are two of the most cinematic soundtracks you’ll ever hear, and they’re for albums!!!!! I think everything Billlie and their team are doing is really exciting, but when I listened to these for the first time my jaw dropped and heart stirred. I know this was the year of Gingamingayo for everyone else (I’m still living for having 2021’s Ring X Ring on repeat not going to lie!), but these instrumental OSTs that bring their albums to K-drama realms really just tore me apart and put me back together in the best of ways.

Lim Young Woong’s IM HERO is honestly an excellent album but didn’t become a personal fave so I wasn’t really going to blurb it BUT it is the only album I listened to this year that caught my mom’s attention when she was eavesdropping, so deserves a nod for capturing the hearts of mother’s around the world.

Treasure’s The Second Step: Chapter One and Two would probably have become one of my most-played albums of the year if it was only the same individual album. There is just so many great tunes (Jikjin, Darari, Hello, VolKno to name a few) but because each are on their own, they just miss the mark a tiny bit. The Second Step as a singular album though… That’s the sweet spot, so I always listen to them back-to-back and I suggest you do too.

OnlyOneOf’s Underground Idol project series isn’t really an album but a bunch of album segments. I think what they’re doing is really interesting re their art pOp remixes paired with original songs. Hope to see this project continue.

Red Velvet’s Feel My Rhythm and their The ReVe Festival 2022 - Birthday both were really engaging in moments, but I feel like Red Velvet really thrive on full albums so I can never really enjoy every EP fully because I’m busy waiting for an LP!

Epik High’s Epik High is Here Pt 2 is an album that’s special to me because Epik High’s albums were really meaningful to me when I was in college nearly a decade ago. Their Epik High is Here two-parter album really felt so nostalgically Epik High to me that I couldn’t not give it a shoutout.

Girls’ Generation’s Forever 1 - This isn’t necessarily such an honorable mention as much as it’s “I’ve written about this release a lot and I think everyone knows I enjoyed it.” If you love me, please take a listen.