The Best K-Pop Albums Of 2022

If there’s something worth noting about the best K-Pop albums of 2022, it’s that a lot of music came out of the woodwork. Whether you were a boy group, a girl group, a solo act of either gender, a new group, a group reuniting for an anniversary — a lot has happened. But that happens every year, really. This year, we heard the sounds of rock, Latin, and R&B all blended into the colorful palette of Korean pop music. Concepts that either followed the Y2K aesthetic, ’80s retro, or futuristic cyberpunk dominated and became fashion trends.

With that being said, choosing the best K-Pop albums of 2022 was not an easy task. As dozens of releases happen every month, deciphering through it all was fun and exciting, yet stressful as artists and producers surely did not come to play in the year of our lord 2022. However, looking at it from afar, when it does come down to see what’s topping the charts in South Korea, what songs everyone was listening to, or what everyone’s talking about (or dancing to) on TikTok and Twitter, it’s safe to say that the girlies came through and conquered 2022. We even saw it on our own lists this year as well. Without further ado, we celebrate the best K-Pop albums and EPs of 2022 that had no right to go this hard but had us feeling good and dancing on our own wherever, whenever.

Check out UPROXX’s Best K-Pop Albums of 2022 below.

Blackpink — Born Pink

Blackpink Born Pink
YG Entertainment/Interscope Records

We all know Blackpink is composed of a bunch of baddies that go by the name of Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé, and Lisa. When the group released their second studio album Born Pink this year, it felt like all their feelings were out in the open in the form of eight tracks. The YG Entertainment quartet shows off their duality with hard-hitting and bass-heavy tracks like “Pink Venom” and “Shut Down” and seamlessly counteract it with mellow and soft serves with “The Happiest Girl,” “Tally,” and Rosé’s solo “Hard To Love.” Dropping F-bombs and expressing the pain and gains of love throughout, YG Entertainment’s in-house producer Teddy and Blackpink deliver their signature sounds that Blinks all over the world love.

Key – Gasoline

KEY Gasoline album
SM Entertainment

Key understood the assignment, and aced it with his second studio album, Gasoline. He knew what he was doing — channeling his inner retro ’90s baby with some love for haunted horror nights of the ’80s, in a collection of dark pop tracks. Everything about this album and concept was perfectly packaged from album cover to song titles and lyrics. (Check out “VILLAIN,” “Burn,” “Guilty Pleasure,” and “Another Life.”) After being in the industry for over a decade, delivering perfection was always in his musical repertoire.

KIHYUN – YOUTH

Kihyun Youth Album
Starship Entertainment

If you’re a K-Pop fan who went through the alternative/emo rock to K-Pop pipeline, then KIHYUN’s album is something you want to listen to. Monsta X’s power vocalist released his YOUTH solo EP that brought nothing but nostalgia. (In a good way, of course.) The title track of the same name is a feel-good rock pop song that invites listeners to take a trip down memory lane and remember the greatest times of our lives — our youth. The following four tracks can be interpreted as moments in our youth where we experience feelings such as anger, heartbreak, loss, and love. But to sum it all up, KIHYUN’s ode to our YOUTH is a timeless masterpiece worth having on loop.

LE SSERAFIM – FEARLESS

le sserafim fearless
Source Music

There’s a saying that there’s a song or album made for every mood there is. However, in LE SSERAFIM’s case, their debut EP was made to make the world your oyster. (Just like the first track off the album.) From beginning to end, FEARLESS serves as a sonic introduction to LE SSERAFIM’s sophisticated pop tones and tenor. The EP oozes with confidence and roars with range in the form of bass-bumping pop tracks throughout, delivering a refreshing and mature take on K-Pop that suits everyone’s taste. You may want to grab a listen to “FEARLESS,” “Blue Flame,” and “Sour Grapes” to get the gist of what LE SSERAFIM is all about.

Nayeon – IM NAYEON

nayeon album
JYP Entertainment/Republic

As 2022 marked the seventh year for TWICE, it also marked the beginning of solo projects for the group. Nayeon’s IM NAYEON EP is a double entendre that plays as a reintroduction to her as a person and an artist. The five-track EP explores how Nayeon defines pop by blending in R&B (“Love Countdown” and “All Or Nothing”), dance (“No Problem”), and a bit of ballad and jazz (“Sunset”) all in one go. Her lead single “POP!” grabs inspiration from the sounds of second-generation bubblegum K-pop, an era she was personally a fan of. Successfully navigating through seven years and some to release her debut EP, IM NAYEON has set the standard for what’s to come and what to look out for with future solo projects from TWICE.

NewJeans – New Jeans

NewJeans New Jeans album art
ADOR Music/HYBE Labels

If you haven’t heard or listened to the music of NewJeans, then what are you doing? It’s just amazing how much NewJeans has grabbed the attention from everyone within the span of a few days over the summer. Prior to the official release of their first self-titled EP, NewJeans initially introduced themselves by dropping music unannounced like Beyonce’s self-titled album in 2013. Except, NewJeans were newcomers that became overnight celebrities that brought modern nostalgia with their Y2K concepts and dreamy pop tracks like “Attention,” “Cookie” and “Hype boy.” Their songs and choreography were instantly loved by all, sung by all, and even covered by all. With a comeback gearing for the beginning of 2023, NewJeans has not only become K-Pop’s youngest “It” girls but a promising new act that can spread K-Pop’s global presence.

PIXY – Reborn

PIXY Reborn album art
AllArt Entertainment

A K-Pop girl group that debuted last year under AllArt Entertainment, and successfully completed a whole European tour with some US appearances this year, can arguably be considered the underdogs or one of the hidden gems in the K-Pop industry. PIXY, a five-piece ensemble, thrive and take pride in bringing dark pop into the K-Pop sphere, shifting gears quite a bit in their 2022 EP, Reborn. With a funky, bass-bumping lead single that kicks off the EP, “Villain” showcases the range to welcome more listeners into their world. In a span of seven tracks, PIXY balances their signature dark pop aesthetics with more funk (“Natural”), rock (“Swan Song”) and even acoustic (“Greetings”) sounds. Although they may not be as big as the other artists on this list, PIXY’s music and concept are promising with a lore worth dissecting in each release.

SEVENTEEN – 4th Album Repackage ‘Sector 17’

Seventeen Sector 17 album art
Pledis Entertainment

SEVENTEEN makes music for everyone. The repackaged version of their fourth studio album is like meeting an old friend, kicking it back, and having a good time. Songs like “_WORLD” and “Darl+ing” feel like the warm embrace when you first meet with their lighthearted melodies and lyrics, while “HOT” and “DON QUIXOTE” are the songs you listen to at a party, cracking a cold one while dancing. This all goes to say that Sector 17 continues to prove that although SEVENTEEN continues to grow in age and music, their songs and concepts are still deeply rooted in what makes them SEVENTEEN, the versatile and timeless artists they are.

STAYC – YOUNG-LUV.com

STAYC Young-Luv.com
High Up Entertainment

What’s great about STAYC is that they’re consistent with releasing hit after hit, and powerful b-side after powerful b-side that hit just the same. The K-Pop group’s second EP YOUNG-LUV.com was the epitome of that. On top of its lead single “RUN2U,” the six-track EP highlights STAYC’s ability to adapt to a blend of different genres K-Pop usually offers. Considering the group is housed under producer duo Black Eyed Pilseung, K-Pop’s top-producing hitmakers, YOUNG-LUV.com does an exceptional job at showcasing every member’s talent whether it be singing, rapping, or even both.

Stray Kids — Oddinary

Stray Kids Oddinary
JYP Entertainment

Something was in the water for Stray Kids to go off when they released Oddinary. One can argue this album was the turning point for the octet’s transition from being boys to men in terms of sound. If you were one of the lucky ones to attend the group’s sold-out Maniac Tour, you’d agree the choreography is sexually aggressive – especially for songs like “Venom“ and “Charmer.” Other than that, the sixth EP from Stray Kids showcases their range as two b-side tracks like the ‘90s hip-hop-inspired “Muddy Waters” and the rock ballad “Waiting For Us” are sung by two sub-units for the project.

Honorable Mention

IVE – After LIKE

IVE After Like album art
Starship Entertainment

Even if it’s just been singles from them, there is no denying IVE’s impact in 2022. Their second single “LOVE DIVE” has taken the industry by storm and still charts despite it being released early in the year. Their follow-up single-album After LIKE, however, houses the lead single of the same name that is the epitome of a ballroom pop hit. Sampling the instrumental hook to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” “After Like” is an instant one-stop shop for a K-pop bop. The supporting single “My Satisfaction” highlights IVE’s fluidity to seep into dark and grungy pop, balancing the upbeat tempo from the track prior.

ITZY – CHESHIRE

ITZY Cheshire album art
JYP Entertainment

ITZY really has perfected the formula of what it takes to become a top-performing, versatile pop group. Releasing at the end of November, CHESHIRE highlights ITZY’s playful side in a four-track EP. The lead single “Cheshire” takes inspiration from Alice In Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat, a mischievous and mysterious character. The following track “Snowy” starts with a melody, briefly sampling Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” that follows the riddle-like concept of the album. As you move along to the last two tracks (“Freaky” and “Boys Like You”), the album gears away from the dark pop “girl crush” sounds and ends with livelier beats.

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