Honestly, Black Pink's new album wasn't as great as I expected but gotta admit that YG does make great songs. "DDU-DU DDU-DU" wins the best song for me because it hit me hard with that ddu-du ddu-du and I just can't stop listening to it.
"Yellow Cab" by YunB
In my past selections for staff picks, I picked a lot of entries from Paloalto. I've now selected a track from another artist from Paloalto's Hi-Lite Records. YunB is originally from New York but went to Korea to pursue his dreams and his music is fire. "Yellow Cab" was my favorite release in the first half of 2018 and the MV is quite good as well. Both the lyrics and MV itself depict the beautiful scenes of NYC as you leave for home right before dawn in a yellow cab after a fun night in the city.
Jenny "Still Love You" by F.T. Island's Hongki and Yoo Hwe Seung
I had to wrestle between this song and Pentagon's "Shine" for so long, but in the end, this song won out because I'm a sucker for ballads. FNC Entertainment's two power vocalists got together for the first part of 'FNC Lab'. They don't disappoint throughout the entire song, but the highlight of the song is definitely Yoo Hwe Seung's 6-step high note at the end of the climax, which is more amazing than words can describe.
"Shine" by Pentagon
I absolutely adore how this song brought back that original, kind of "cringy" sentiment of K-Pop that the genre used to have a lot back in the day. These days, K-Pop is trying to be more "cool" and "hip" and such you know, to appeal more to Western pop audiences I guess, but I always enjoy K-Pop more when you can laugh about the cringy and geeky things while still jamming to the songs and dances. And Pentagon's concept this time around was literally, going blatantly cringy. They didn't hold back on the "nerd" concept and told such a sweet and adorable story with this song, and if there was any hesitation or lack of confidence in pushing this concept, it wouldn't have worked. Thankfully, they were able to pull it off with E'Dawn rocking his signature "sickly" look at the center.
"Bad Boy" by Red Velvet
As K-pop fans know, Red Velvet's music has been steadily setting itself apart from the crowd, and "Bad Boy" is continuing that trend. I'm in love with the song's unique blend of '90s R&B, trap beats, and atmospheric synth as well as Red Velvet's playfully edgy yet controlled vocals. It's my favorite Red Velvet song to date.
"LATATA" by (G)I-DLE
What an amazing start/debut for (G)I-DLE! It's probably not that big bold of a statement since everyone can see it as well, but I predict this group of 6 girls will make their mark in K-pop history as one of the best to do it. The entire song flowed from start to finish effortlessly and personally speaking, I kept going back to 1:30 to 2:08 over and over again. The concise, sharp, and well-put-together rap of Jeon So Yeon (note: I would already consider her to be top 3 female idol rappers – watch 'Unpretty Rapstar' if you don't believe me), the strangely addicting tone/note hit by Minnie, and the unexpected deep voice from Yuqi was just put together so well; the 38 seconds span alone was enough to get me hooked to the song and the group. If this song is any indication of the future, Cube Entertainment will be in good hands for years to come.
"Like That" by Kris Wu
This technically isn't a K-Pop song, but his latest single "Like That" is my favorite release period from the first half of this year. The instrumental boasts a storybook/fairytale-esque music box beat and his signature style of singing and rapping gets the listener intoxicated when jamming to the track. Kris's metamorphosis into a huge Western presence hasn't gone unnoticed as he has been picked up for interviews with industry giants like Genius. "Like That" reminds us of the existence of a talented Kris Wu beyond K-Pop.
"Flower Road" by Big Bang
My favorite song is Big Bang's "Flower Road" because I have been a Big Bang stan since their debut back in 2006. Since four of the members left for enlistment it has been quiet for the VIP fandom waiting patiently for our maknae's solo. However, the kings left us with one final gift and it was beautiful. "Flower Road" is a reminder that as much as we are waiting for Big Bang's return, they too are waiting to come back to us and share their music with us again. They've always been an inspiration to fans and other idol groups but sometimes we forget as fans we inspire and motivate them as much as they do us. "Flower Road" is that reminder that together Big Bang and VIPs are in it for the long run and we will be reunited again soon.
"Take Me Higher" by A.C.E
What a daring approach from A.C.E! This song is extra funky and groovy with a tropical concept -- a good leeway into this year's summer. While most rookie groups may settle for a 'stronger' concept to appear charismatic, A.C.E can achieve the same effect with a lighter mood and powerful vocals. Overall, the song is catchy and upbeat, but there are also moments when build-ups to the chorus slow down to make a smooth transition. If you watch the performances, all the live-singing and dancing (with no back-up dancers) are also pluses to enjoy the song!
"Love Scenario" by iKON
This song complimented the cold weather back during its Winter release but now fits perfectly with the hazy summer nights. iKON gave us all what we didn't know we needed - a chill-vibing song about a simple love story. And, I know, as if there isn't already dozens of those, iKON's originality and the members' soothing vocals with the light rapping manner made this song one of the best releases of the year. Go back and listen to this song again, and it'll stick with you day to night.
"LATATA" by (G)I-DLE
Married to a not-so-great MV, this particular gem burrowed into my skull and won't let go. I listen to this one every day, so it gets my pick for best song of the first half of 2018. Ironically this band got a lot of attention for the visuals, it seems, even though I was impressed by how well put together their songs were, particularly this one. A hip-hop sensibility along with a girl crush attitude put this particular song on my radar.