Review

2018 In Review: Day 7 – Dance And Electronic

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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 dance and electronic songs field wasn’t the #1 most competitive category this year, but it was close. As the trop-pop craze died out, this year’s list is more heavily idol-pop than ever before. It’s a straight increase in the quantity of deserving selections rather than the soloists and indie producers getting crowded out, and only a surprisingly small share is contributed by the usual big label groups. It speaks to the depth and breadth of what we’re getting from that scene nowadays.

Notes:

  • 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 Dance and Electronic playlist is here and also embedded below:

Albums

Best Dance and Electronic Album 2018

Kirara – Sarah (read our review)

There was a great deal of technical achievement in Kirara’s stitching narratives out of inscrutable, formless, industrial sounds in Sarah, and a great deal of intangible achievement in her compositions that brim with life and emotion. Often the two intersected, like in the breathlessly glitchy “Worries” and dryly pounding “Stay”. These meticulously detailed and tightly arranged tracks bore an astonishing amount of passion alongside their poignancy, often reaching out through the odd keyboard backing or side melody. Atop the bed of vigorous big-beat that refused to relent, it was a prime example of showing rather than telling: Sarah is, indeed, “dance music for [us] who vow to live on each day”.

Runner-up Dance and Electronic Album 2018

Mid-Air Thief – 무너지기 (Crumbling)

(Crumbling is not on our playlist since it’s not available on Spotify as of this writing, but it can be listened to/purchased on Bandcamp: link)

We should quickly note that Mid-Air Thief (Gongjoong Dodook) is formerly Gongjoong Doduk (with one syllable changed in his name), whose unclassifiable debut album was our runner-up crossover/other album three years ago. Crumbling was a little more squarely electronic, but the artist’s folk leanings remained and his penchant for deconstruction definitely returned. Vocals, guitars, drums, synths, noise… really everything in this album have an ethereal quality, their edges softened until the sounds blend together into a dreamy mix (and then tape-mastered to boot). Mid-Air Thief then sculpted this mixture into some of the most stunning soundscapes of the year, bubbling up in blues warmth (“Ahhhh, These Chains!”) and opening up into wide vistas (“Dirt”). A constantly and satisfyingly surprising album.

The Next-Best Ten

Aseul – Asobi

BoA

BoA – Woman (read our review)

BTS – Love Yourself 轉 ‘Tear’

Cacophony – 和 (화) (Harmony)

Flash Flood Darlings – Fewchie vs. Wolflove

Key – Face

Kisnue – Last of Everything We Were

Monsta X – Are You There?

Vixx – Eau de Vixx

Yeseo – Damn Rules (read our review)

Songs

Best Dance and Electronic Song 2018

Seventeen – 고맙다 (Thanks)

Lots of idol-group dance tracks try to introduce sentimentality, but it’s not an easy thing to get right without either spilling into overwrought territory or sapping all the vitality out of the song. Seventeen’s “Thanks” struck as perfect a balance as any. Bumzu and Woozi wrote a powerful beat, with natural ebbs and flows and tinged by washed-out, nostalgic guitar tones. As the members sing of redeeming regret into enduring gratitude, emotions build up over two distinct prechoruses, culminating in an electric drop that sparkles in cathartic synths. As well-executed (and choreographed, for that matter) as it was tightly constructed, “Thanks” was breathtaking, and a master class on how to do this kind of song.

Runner-up Dance and Electronic Song 2018

Yeseo – Bitches Rule

Yeseo’s work has often blended the line between dreamy and provocative (e.g. our Best Electronic Album last year), and with “Bitches Rule” she carved out an unassailable perch in that niche. The track was a hypnotic dream, driven by a clinical beat and a visceral, throbbing synth line that seems to descend deeper with each repetition. Yeseo sometimes sings but mostly whispers and chants in this one, and the chorus (“Bitches know how to do it // And I know how to play // The game is all mine, it’s all mine // Exactly what I have always got”) is devastating in its simple effectiveness. No one else is making music quite like this, at this level of quality; “Bitches Rule” is a serious argument that she’s among the best producers in the scene today.

The Next-Best Ten

BoA – One Shot, Two Shot

Boymod – Physically (Feat. Yeseo)

(G)I-DLE – Latata

Hyolyn – 달리 (Dally) (Feat. Gray)

Loona/Olivia Hye – Egoist (Feat. JinSoul)

Oh My Girl – 비밀정원 (Secret Garden)

Primary & Anda – The Open Boat (Feat. Colde)

Room306 – 더 (Further)

Sunmi – 주인공 (Heroine)

Yuri X Raiden – Always Find You

Honorable Mentions

Albums

Ashmute – 01
Ateez – Treasure EP 1: All to Zero
Aum – Assorted Unforgettable Memories
BoA – One Shot, Two Shot
Cifika – Prism
DNNRTBL – 밤의뱀 (Bamuibaem)
Exo – Don’t Mess Up My Tempo
Exo-CBX – Blooming Days
Fisherman – 청담 (Cheongdam)
GFriend – Time for the Moon Night (read our review)
(G)I-DLE – I Am
Got7 – Present: You
Humming Urban Stereo – V
IZONE – COLORIZ (read our review)
Kinkyscope – 5 Stages of Loss
Leo – Canvas
Loona – [+ +] (read our review)
Monsta X – The Connect: Dejavu
Peterpan Complex – 1999
Red Velvet – RBB (Really Bad Boy)
Room306 – 인사 (Visit)
SHINee – The Story of Light Epilogue
Shinhwa – Heart
Sunmi – Warning
TVXQ – New Chapter #1: The Chance of Love
Uhm Jung-hwa – The Cloud Dream of the Nine
Uju – 선데이서울 (Sunday Seoul) Ep. 1
Uza – Focus
Xin Seha – Airway

Songs

April – 예쁜게 죄 (Oh! My Mistake)
Aseul – 구멍 (Fill Me Up)
Ashmute – Fate
Astro – 너잖아 (Always You)
Baekhyun X Loco – Young
Blackpink – 뚜두뚜두 (Ddu-Du Ddu-Du)
BoA – 너와 나 (U&I)
BTS – Fake Love
BTS (Jungkook) – Euphoria
Cacophony – 로제타 (Rosetta)
Chungha – Cherry Kisses
Cifika – Dooroogo
Dreamcatcher – Full Moon
Dreamcatcher – Mayday
Dreamcatcher – What
Ele – Nice Boy
Eric Nam – 솔직히 (Honestly)
Exo – Tempo
Fisherman – Pasteur
FIXL & Rothschild – Love Me Now (Feat. Se.A)
Fromis_9 – Love Bomb
GFriend – 틱틱 (Tik Tik)
GFriend – 휘리휘리 (Flower Garden)
(G)I-DLE – Maze
(G)I-DLE, Madison Beer, Jaira Burns – Pop/Stars
GroovyRoom – My Paradise (Feat. Chungha, Vinxen)
GWSN – Melting Point
IZONE – 라비앙로즈 (La Vie en Rose)
Jang Pil-soon – 그림 (Painting)
Jennie – Solo
Jonghyun – 환상통 (Only One You Need)
Key – Chemicals
Kirara – 걱정 (Worries)
Kisnue – Love Gets in the Way (Feat. Love X Stereo)
Kisnue – Strangers Now
Kriesha Chu – Like Paradise (Prod. Flow Blow)
Loona – favOriTe
Loona – Stylish
Loona – 열기 (Heat) (9)
Loona/Chuu – Heart Attack
Loona yyxy – Frozen (read our review)
Lulileela – Oasis
Mino – 아낙네 (Fiance)
Monsta X – Jealousy
Monsta X – Shoot Out
MXM – Knock Knock
NCT 127 – Touch
Oh My Girl – Twilight
Pentagon – Off-Road
Primary & Anda – Dressroom
Rainbow99 – Hubo
Rainbow99 – 청주, 옥화 1경 (Cheongju, Okhwa 1 Kyeong)
Red Velvet – Bad Boy
Red Velvet – Butterflies
Room306 – 인사 (Visit)
Shaun – Arirang (read our review)
Stray Kids – I Am You
Susan – 소년소녀 (Boy Girl) (Feat. Park Mun-chi)
Taeyeon – Something New
The KoKos – 밤이 안오는 잠 (A Nightless Sleep)
Twice – What Is Love?
Twice – Sunset (read our review)
Twice – YES or YES
Uhm Jung-hwa – Ending Credit
Uju – 불을 밝혀줘 (Give Me the Light)
Universe Mongae – Fake Love
Uza – 모든걸 기억해 (Remember Everything) (Feat. Lokid)
Vixx – 향 (Scentist)
Wanee Jung – 틈 (Crevasse)
Wanna One – 불꽃놀이 (Flowerbomb) (read our review)
Wanna One – 켜줘 (Light)
Weki Meki – Metronome
Yeseo – Cigarette Light
Yeseo – I Hear You


Lyric translations by author. Artist profile and album cover images from Bugs Music.

Read our past series:

2017 In Review

2016 In Review

2015 In Review

2014 In Review

2013 In Review

2012 In Review

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