2018 In Review: Day 1 – Introduction and Best Album Art

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2018 In Review

1. Introduction + Best Album Art
2. Song of the Year
3. Album of the Year
4. R&B and Soul
5. Rock and Alternative
6. Rap and Hip-hop
7. Dance and Electronic
8. Pop and Ballad
9. Folk and Country
10. Jazz and Blues
11. Crossover and World
12. Best Collaborative Work
13. Rookie Artist of the Year
14. Artist of the Year
15. Other Recognition
16. Concluding Remarks

The release cycle never stops in music, but it’s good to take a breather to appreciate the excellence and depth of artistry we’ve enjoyed over the year. We do that each December to January here at Hellokpop, and today we’re back for our eighth annual Year In Review.

Series Structure

We follow the schedule at the top of this page, with one post every day celebrating one musical genre or broader category. The big update to the schedule this year: “Song of the Year” and “Album of the Year” are pulled to the very beginning of the series, before any of the genre categories. (“Rookie Artist of the Year” and “Artist of the Year” remain at their usual spot at the very end.) We are including Spotify playlists to go with each of the genre categories this year, and putting the Song and Album posts first will ensure the playlists don’t preemptively spoil those picks.

As in previous years, each genre category will feature twelve albums and twelve songs, including a “best” pick, a “runner-up” pick, and the next-best ten. We also list honorable mentions of varying count. The general categories follow a similar format, but “Artist of the Year”, “Song of the Year”, and “Album of the Year” have no honorable mentions. (In order to recognize more works, the “Song of the Year”, “Album of the Year” and their runner-ups won’t show up in the genre categories.)

On Day 15, we’ll have some fun and present dozens of whimsical “awards” that recognize works and artists for nontraditional or intentionally cherry-picked accomplishments. Finally on Day 16, we’ll summarize what other publications have been picking in their own year-end lists.

As always, the coverage period is December to November: works released between December 1, 2017 and November 30, 2018 are eligible to be included here.

Best Album Art

For those joining us for the first year, we begin each Year in Review with a gallery of 100 notable pieces of album art from the year. I pick these across a flexible set of criteria: some of them are aesthetically pleasing, others are evocative or meaningful, and still others are just striking. They also serve as a prelude of what’s to come: many of the albums and singles represented below will also show up in the “award” categories in the main series. After all, good music often comes with attention to aesthetics.

The gallery is organized by alphabetical order of artist name. (Korean names are romanized.) Mouse over each image to view artist and title, and click on an image for a scrollable list. Original high-res versions of these images can be found at most major Korean streaming sites; I got these from Bugs Music.

This year, paint and watercolor particularly appeared to be in vogue; I had to cut a number of covers that worked out of that palette.

What are some of your favorites from 2018? Let us know in the comments.

Gallery: Best Album Art 2018 (click for larger image and scroll through)

Read our past series:

2017 In Review

2016 In Review

2015 In Review

2014 In Review

2013 In Review

2012 In Review