The K-pop genre doesn’t really need an introduction, with how it has completely taken over the world in unprecedented growth in the past five years. Thanks to groups such as BTS and Blackpink, K-pop is now on mainstream radio waves and has long outgrown its previously niche community.
In 2022, fans were definitely treated to many exciting comebacks full of powerful anthems, addictive hooks and experimental sounds. Indeed, the year has seen freshly debuted groups such as NewJeans and Ive dominate charts with their hit singles and established groups such as Seventeen and Red Velvet remaining as fan favourites.
After considering the novelty of their concepts, music production, performance quality, and general reception, these are the 22 best K-pop comebacks of 2022.
Universe by Onewe
You don’t see a lot of traditional bands in the K-pop scene, which is why Onewe is a worthy mention on the list. The alternative rock band started out the year with a beautiful ballad (again, not something you usually see) that continues with their space theme after previous singles such as AuRora and Cosmos.
Devil by Max Changmin
Member of the legendary boy group TVXQ, Max Changmin impressed netizens with a jaw-dropping remake of Devil by Alex Runo. Pushing the boundaries of the usual K-pop sound, the song incorporates American Southern blues with elements of gospel music. Together with his incredible dance skills, you won’t be able to look away from his magnetic performance.
Tomboy by (G)-idle
Featuring bold lyrics about female empowerment, breaking gender stereotypes and self-love, the punk rock single catapulted the girl group to even higher heights of fame. Under the creative direction of their leader and songwriter Soyeon who fought hard to bring the vision to life, Tomboy is a feminist anthem that had both boys and girls screaming along to.
Maniac by Stray Kids
As the title track of their ninth EP, Oddinary, Maniac’s concept is crystal clear and well-executed. Conveying the message of embracing one’s oddness, the Frankenstein-like choreography and gothic sound make Maniac a satisfying comeback.
Feel My Rhythm by Red Velvet
Known as one of the summer queens of K-pop, Red Velvet captured the hearts of netizens with Feel My Rhythm. Sampling Johann Sebastian Bach’s Air on the G String, the dance-pop song has a strong trap beat yet an airy and delicate string melody that perfectly reflects the members’ refreshing vocals.
Still Life by Big Bang
In a truly special comeback, the iconic boy group released Still Life which was a beautiful tribute to the fans and its members. For VIPs who have been waiting for the group to reunite after multiple military enlistments and controversy, Still Life gave them the bittersweet closure they needed as another comeback remains uncertain.
Love Dive by Ive
As the Song of the Year winner at the Mnet Asian Music Awards 2022 and Melon Music Awards 2022, it’s safe to say that the K-pop community went through a Love Dive fever. Undoubtedly one of the best comebacks of the year, Ive stunned fans with their haunting melodies, catchy chorus and trendy choreography.
Zoom by Jessi
A knack for creating viral tracks, Zoom was a fun comeback from singer-rapper Jessi that even got featured on Marvel’s She-Hulk. The song has a simple and catchy melody with an even more laid-back choreography that anyone can easily follow.
Love by Monsta X
Monsta X departs from their usual heavy hip-hop trap sound for a more 90s-inspired old-school style. We love how fun the members look in this comeback, bringing a lighthearted groove and swagger that one can easily bop their heads to.
That that by Psy featuring BTS Suga
Collaborating with BTS Suga, Psy’s long-awaited comeback since his last single in 2017 was nothing short of show-stopping. Featuring a Wild, Wild West aesthetic, simple yet fun choreography, and a hard-hitting electro beat, the song peaked at number 1 on the South Korean charts and became an instant summer anthem.
I Hate You by Woodz
Woodz, real name Cho Seungyoon, is a multi-hyphenate that is regarded by many K-pop fans as one of the most talented singer-songwriters, performers and artists currently in the scene. Channelling his emo-punk side, this comeback captures Woodz’s chameleon-like nature to adapt to any genre perfectly. Olivia Rodrigo and Paramore lovers, this one’s for you.
Nanana by Got7
After the group departed from JYP Entertainment in January 2021, Got7 reaffirmed that they would still reunite as a group frequently. True to their word, all seven members came together for Nanana and even released a self-titled mini-album.
Hot by Seventeen
The self-producing group came out with yet another banger. Hot shines with its strong EDM-inspired beats with choreography that exudes natural swagger, making it one of Seventeen’s most popular comebacks.
Yet To Come by BTS
With BTS Jin currently in his military enlistment for the next two years, the song’s lyrics and music video are gifts to the ARMY fandom. Telling the group’s journey, the MV contains many references and easter eggs to past comebacks and relays a positive message about the future.
Future Perfect (Pass the Mic) by Enhypen
While we were debating if Blessed-Cursed would make the cut, Future Perfect ultimately took the spot, largely due to its use of the Chicago Drill sound which not many K-pop groups have explored. The choreography, who Nick Joseph had a hand in, was also memorable for its powerful and dynamic style and perfect synchronisation.
Girls by Aespa
Aespa’s concept is unique in and of itself, thanks to SM Entertainment’s dive into the world of AI and avatars. The record label is set on creating its own multiverse and Girls further expands the group’s lore whilst featuring some stunning CGI that includes the avatar versions of the members.
Arson by J-Hope
As the title track to his album, Jack in the Box, Arson explores another side to the artist’s usually sunny and bright demeanour and instead, takes a grungier approach that showcases J-Hope’s edgy rapping style.
Forever 1 by Girl’s Generation
To commemorate their 15th anniversary, Girl’s Generation returned after their five-year hiatus, much to their fan’s delight. Forever 1 captures the veteran group’s signature sound while also incorporating modern styles that make it the perfect track that records Girl’s Generation’s past and present.
Talk That Talk by Twice
Twice may be more known for their cutesy numbers but we love seeing groups naturally evolve their style as they come into themselves. Featuring a cyberpunk aesthetic, Talk That Talk still reflects Twice’s freshness yet signifies their new sound direction.
Antifragile by Le Sserafim
An anagram for ‘I’m Fearless’, Le Sserafim’s concept is all about the boldness and strength to face adversities, and Antifragile embodied just that. The title track uses a Latin-reggaeton-inspired melody that’s not often seen in K-pop and reflects the five-membered group’s daring spirit in a fun, youthful way. Combine this with the seriously addictive “anti-ti-ti-ti- fragile” hook, Yunjin’s back-breaking dance and Kazuha’s viral leg lift, this comeback is one to remember.
When I Move by Kara
Another group celebrating their fifteenth anniversary was Kara, who not only released a special anniversary album but also made a special performance at the Mnet Music Asia Awards. When I Move is a great comeback that perfectly embodies the girl group’s nostalgic dance club sound paired with stunning visuals.
Ditto by NewJeans
Just making it on the list is NewJeans, dubbed as one of K-pop’s ‘Monster Rookies’ this year. Their debut hits, Hype Boy and Attention are worthy mentions, especially with how viral they went. Continuing their refreshing and youthful concept that blends Y2K aesthetics, Ditto is already a hit with a perfect all-kill, which means the song peaked at number 1 on all South Korean music charts.
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