2018 In Review: Day 11 – Crossover And World

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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

Our most diverse category rounds out the genre-specific posts today. 2018’s crossover and world music featured excellence from musicians in tango, Korean traditional, bossa nova, new age, Afrobeat, Gypsy, classical, Latin, reggae, opera, and more. It’s also the category where our coverage might be the spottiest – let us know in the comments if we missed your favorites!


  • The “next-best ten” and honorable mention lists are sorted by artist name.
  • This year, we’re providing Spotify playlists of music featured in these lists (provided that Spotify carries the music). The 2018 Crossover and World playlist is here and also embedded below:


Best Crossover and World Album 2018

Koh Sangji – Tears of Pitou

Anime-inspired as Koh Sangji’s works often are, Tears of Pitou once again displayed the powerful drive that set her apart. The “Adventure” pieces, “Stratosphere”, and “99.082%” borrowed elements from march and power ballad in depicting bold beginnings and yearnings for the heights. But the album’s emotional range was wide and varied: we got the dramatic tango-faithful tracks like “The Last Rakugo”, with sweeping, sentimental subpieces (“14 Years After”, “Baker’s Morning”) that star rich strings to spell Koh’s expressive bandoneon. Filled with striking performances and unpredictable turns, Tears of Pitou was the year’s most satisfying crossover gift.

Runner-up Crossover and World Album 2018

Numori – 환상의 문 (Door to Fantasy)

Korean-traditional crossovers these days need something special to stand out from the crowd. The solution given by Numori’s second album was to expand the set of contemporary sounds being crossed over: Door to Fantasy encompasses EDM, psychedelia, blues and more, going further than the standard ballad and rock toolkits (although those are present, and done well, here also). The cast of musicians brought a dizzying palette of influences to the album’s diverse soundscapes built around both pansori and samulnori, and together they created some truly novel and exciting combinations, ranging from the nervous sterility of “Emptiness” to the fervent celebration of “Moon Song”.

The Next-Best Ten

Dongyang Gozupa – 틈 (Gap) (read our review)

Haedong Seoungguk – Dokkaebi Play

Heekyung Na – Amora

Jung Mijung – Moon

Mothervibes – Mothervibes

Omar and the Eastern Power – Walking Miles (read our review)

Park Jiha – Philos

Park Ju-won – The Last Rumba

So-hee Song & 2nd Moon – 모던민요 (Modern Korean Folk Songs)

Sorri – Becoming


Best Crossover and World Song 2018

Cho Kyu-chan – Deja vu

Cho Kyu-chan’s singles series throughout 2018 was wonderfully free-form and varied, reflecting an artist who’s got the established career to be able to try anything he wants and the creative spirit to actually do it. “Deja vu” was probably the best single out of that great collection. Cho recorded all the layers of this a capella piece, including the instrumental tracks. The harmonizing vocal line is beautiful on its own, and tracking the parallel flows and convergences of their notes a joy; the whisper bells, drum hits, and bass hums are a whole another level. There are plenty of technically skilled a capella bands out there, but Cho’s gorgeous songwriting and attention to detail made “Deja vu” impressive enough to stand against anything else.

Runner-up Crossover and World Song 2018

Ryu Jisu – 어먼 소리 (Words From Nothing)

Ryu Jisu plays the haegeum as well as Western string instruments, and she seems to be well-versed in both Korean traditional and contemporary approaches. That served her extremely well in the series of impressive singles she put out in her debut year of 2018, with “Words From Nothing” being a headliner. The track featured a forlorn melody performed with wiry strength by Ryu, and the folksong bitterness blooms into orchestral explosion in an organic swoop. The lyrics (also self-written) were a curious mix of old and new vocabulary and address, providing an anachronistic but perhaps timeless sheen. It was one of the year’s most forceful displays of sheer talent.

The Next-Best Ten

Cubanism – 불타올라 (On Fire)

Dongyang Gozupa – 틈 (Gap)

Fana – 해파리 (Jellyfish)

Gu Seul-gi – Prelude

Jung Jae Moon & Pace – Nikolai Kapustin: Piano Quintet No. 1 – 1st Mov. Allegro

Kim Seonhyo – 바람꽃 (Anemone)

Numori – 작별인사 (Farewell)

Park Ji-yoon – Journey

Seungmin Cha X Yeonkyeong Oh – 그믐 (Dark Moon) (Feat. Park Min-hee)

Shim So-jung – The Moon on a Rainbow

Honorable Mentions


Forte di Quattro – Colors
Haein Lee – 달놀음 (Dal-Nol-Eum)
Jeong Kyeo-woon – 새벽의 달 (曙月) (Moon in the Morning)
Ju Bora – 계절:Seasons
Kim Seonhyo – Colour of Geomungo
Ko Yeong-yeol – 상사곡 | 님을 그리는 노래 (Sangsagok)
Miraclass – Romantica
Near East Quartet – Near East Quartet
Rapercussion – African Rhythms of Fonike
RD – Breath of Purple Ocean
Shinkyu – The Providence of Restoration
The Greatballs – 모두가 로큰롤 (Everybody Rock ‘n’ Roll)
Woorisori Mosaek – 지금, 여기에 (Here, and Now)
Yeasl – 너에게 가는 길 (The Way to You)
Yuny Park – 연희별곡 (YeonheeByulGok – When I Was Young)


2nd Moon – The Dimension Library
Animal Divers – Liveaboard
Awesome Gaya – 새난풍류 (Fresh Korean Traditional Music Like Rebirth)
Blue Beacon Song Min-gi – 그리다 (Draw)
Cho Dong-hee – 언니, 사랑이 뭐예요 (Unnie, What is Love) (Feat. Mothervibes)
Duobud – 짙은고요 (Dark Silence)
Dusky80 – 꿈이길 (Let It Be a Dream)
East End Lyrics – 공명가객 (Stranger’s Ambient)
Gina Hwang – 사이 (The Middle Space)
Haedong Seoungguk – IM82 (Violin Dosa)
Haein Lee – 달놀음 (Dal-Nol-Eum in 6/8 C Major: Allegro)
Heekyung Na – 좋은 하루 (Bom Dia)
Jeong Kyeo-woon – 새벽의 달 (Moon in the Morning)
Junho Ma – Deep Time
Kingston Rudieska – 레게밤밤 (Reggae Bam Bam)
Koh Sangji – Adventure (Blue)
Koh Sangji – Fuga for the Three (Chimera Ant Suite, Pt. 1)
Ko Yeong-yeol – 상사곡 (Sangsagok)
Lee Kyung-hyun Quartet – Let It Snow
Miraclass – 집으로 가는 길 (On the Way Home)
Mothervibes – 히피의 아침 (Hippie Morning) (Feat. Echae Kang)
Narin – Dreaming
Numori – 가다가 (By Your Side) (Feat. Park In-hye)
Numori – 서서히 식어갔다 (Slowly Disappear) (Feat. Jeon Young-rang)
O’day O$A – California Roll (Feat. Own, Brown Tigger)
Ohhyuk & Cifika – MOMOM
Oh Jung-min – Last Rain
Omar and the Eastern Power – City of Cranes
Omar and the Eastern Power – Houria (Freedom)
Oriental Showcus – Catch Up
Oriental Showcus – 헤어컷 (Haircut)
Park Hyunjeong – 랄랄라 (Lalala)
Park Jiha – Philos
Park Ju-won – 10월 아침 (October Morning) (Feat. Sinae Yoon)
Park Sang-don – 그리움의 언덕 (The Place in My Heart)
P-Dul – 그들의 영산회상 (Their Yeongsan Hoesang) (Feat. Daegeuminuna)
RD – Voice of San Andromeda
Ryu Jisu – 발병 (Wish You)
Ryu Jisu – 호접몽 (Bitter’fly) (Feat. Jay Moon)
Semi Yoo – Nella Fantasia (Feat. Queen)
Song So-hee & 2nd Moon – 매화타령 (Song of Plum Blossom)
Sonia Choy – 눈물 담아.. (With Tears)
Sorri – 한강 송전탑 위엔 사람이 살았어 (A Human Has Lived on the Transmission Tower by the Han River)
Woorisori Mosaek – 서울사람 (The Man from Seoul) (Feat. Kim Dong-geun)
Yayaya – 청산별곡 (Song of the Green Mountain)
Yeasl – Have a Nice Day
Yechan Choi – Escalera de Memoria
Yoonsun Ko – 심연 (Oblivion)
Yuny Park – 나의 어릴 적 이야기 (When I Was Young)
Yuny Park – 태평가 (No Worry)

Read our past series:

2017 In Review

2016 In Review

2015 In Review

2014 In Review

2013 In Review

2012 In Review