Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters from Liz!
I know this blog has become more of my “writing universe just typed out in blog format”, but I really do like coming back to my roots every holiday season and writing more pieces like music reviews, overexposed posts, or even something simple as telling you my top 5 favorite albums of 2022! I did this last year for Lizmas, and thought it was only right to continue this tradition for 2022 just to see just how different my favorites were from this time last year to now!
So without further ado, here are my top 5 favorite albums of 2022!
5.) “BORN PINK” by Blackpink
Alright, y’all. So I wouldn’t call myself a Blink, which is the fandom name for Blackpink. I’m a very casual listener when it comes to them and for the most part, I enjoy their music when they release new music. Prior to this release, their last comeback was way back in 2020, and it is uncommon for K-pop groups to wait so long between releases since the industry is so fast-paced. So when “Pink Venom” was released back in August as their pre-release single, many people felt robbed of the anticipation that these girls has around them when they announced that they were making their comeback after a 2-year hiatus. I can’t lie, I was one of those people that had a love-hate relationship with the song, but when their second full-length album came out a month later, my jaw was to the floor. This album is seriously a “no-skip” album. Months later, their title track for the album, “Shut Down” still gets played every single day on my way to work and vice versa. The album showcases some vocals that we never got from the rap-heavy group, and although they experiment with more “trendy” sounds, they somehow still make it feel very much Blackpink-esque. I do hope that YG Entertainment gives them more comebacks, because as much as people want to the on them because of their popularity, as someone outside of the fandom: I understand why they are so popular, and literally with the right guidance and direction, these girls can stay on top in the midst of the fourth generation girl group battle.
4.) “ADMARE” by NMIXX
So unpopular opinion: I really enjoyed this debut album from NMIXX. Just for some background: NMIXX is a seven-member girl group under JYP Entertainment; the same company that Twice, ITZY, and Stray Kids are under. They debuted earlier this year in February, and despite everyone not liking their debut album due to it’s experimental genre, I actually was hooked when I first listened to their title track, “O.O”, and their b-side, “TANK”. The group’s concept is to literally mix genres in their songs, which is something not new to the K-pop scene, but it’s new for a girl group’s entire concept to be just that. Many listeners did not the concept or felt confused about the song’s structure, but I didn’t mind it too much because I was always a fan of the type of songs that would change melody or beats within the song. Some examples that come to mind are SNSD’s “I Got A Boy”, and last year’s mega-hit “Next Level” by aespa. Needless to say, despite their complex concept, these girls are possibly some of the best vocalists within 4-gen K-pop groups. Lily, their eldest member, has a vocal range so insane, she can literally sing high notes the same way we speak regular words. Plus, her duets with other NMIXX member and leader, Haewon, are literally so lethal and magical; I would definitely want a sub-unit promotion further down their careers because those two together are whoa. But yeah, I think for a debut, this was really strong and unique and I am excited to see their range when they release a mini-album in the future!
3.) “Colorful Trauma” by WOODZ
I need to know what crack Seungyoun puts in his songs because he’s had 5 releases since 2020 and every album he’s put out has been a favorite of mine or a “no-skip” album. Seungyoun isn’t my ult bias once Seungsik of Victon took that spot, but he’s definitely number 2 on my list. Seungyoun, or known by his stage name “WOODZ”, released his fourth mini album back in May with a pop-punk concept and I swear, he knows how to do a motherfuckin’ concept right! The title track, “I Hate You” literally is anyone’s anthem that got their heart broken and feeling angry as fuck. It definitely had my happy ass singing out loud “I hate you! I don’t need you! I forget you!” and then go over to my guy’s place and be all cute and lovey-dovey. In this case, I really enjoyed the b-sides of this album; while most still staying in that pop-punk genre, all the other songs have different messages and honestly, a lot of these songs have become inspiration for my writing universe because of the diversity and atmosphere that they all have. “Better and Better” makes me feel like I’m skateboarding down a hill with my crush as a teenager wearing baggy pants and a zipped-up hoodie and overly worn Converse. “Dirt on my Leather” makes me feel like I’m at a bar chugging cans of beer while I stand on the bar table dancing. “I Hope To Be Like You” makes me feel like I’m telling all of my mentors and my support team that, well, I hope I can be like you one day. The album takes you on a rollercoaster of feelings and I’m just saying, Seungyoun knows how to make good music. Of course; besides Victon, any other K-pop act I would want to see on tour is Woodz because every song is a fucking bop. There’s a reason why his new releases come into my top favorites every single year.
2.) “Chronograph” and “Choice” by Victon
Am I completely biased for including two Victon releases? Absolutely. It’s for good reason, I promise.
Anyway, 2022 was the year of Victon’s “Time Trilogy”, meaning that we were going to get three comebacks within the year, and honestly; as an Alice, I was excited that our boys were now getting multiple comebacks after going radio silent for the entirety of 2021 after releasing their full-length album in January 2021; VOICE: The future is now. If you would like to read more about the three releases, feel free to read my completely biased music reviews for Chronograph, Chaos, and Choice.
Chronograph was the first installment in the trilogy and was released in January 2022. This was also the first comeback since the eldest member, Seungwoo, enlisted in the military back in July 2021. It was a single album, which meant there were only two songs released. I really enjoyed “Chronograph” as a title track because it was so different than their previous release, “What I Said”. The song is super catchy and fun, and the styling was so futuristic and fun; also, Red-hair Sik is one of my top favorites ever now because of this era. Their second and only other song on this album, “Want Me” had me in a chokehold for the first latter of the year. It showcased the member’s vocals and also kept to that classic Victon sound and the lyrics are heartwrenching. It was a strong start to their trilogy and I was literally obsessed; I still am considering that I have the English version of “Chronograph” memorized word for word. Such a great era for our boys.
Choice was the third and final installment in the trilogy and was released in November 2022. It was the first comeback since former member, Chan, had left the group in early October after his DUI came out in the media. It was a weird transition for the group, and I know that this last part of the trilogy was most likely planned and recorded before this news came out, and seeing the boys dwindle down to just 5 members felt wrong. I was nervous about this comeback to say the least. But when the album was finally released, I gasped in shock. Even before I became such a die-hard fan of Victon, I was always impressed at how most of their discography had “no skip” albums. this album is the definition of a “no skip Victon album. The title track, “Virus”, has a nostalgic vibe to it, making it feel like a 2nd or 3rd gen K-pop group (which is crazy to think that these boys are a 3rd-gen group but didn’t get the recognition they deserved until K-pop was in its 4th-gen) type of song. The album tells a beautiful story; starting off being about tragic love and loss yet ending with songs like “Better Place” and “Feels Good”, which are some of the cutest fucking songs to be released by Victon ever. Needless to say, this has been the strongest mini album since Continuous, which was released back in March 2020. This album has become one of my favorites that Victon has released, and that says a lot since I am, once again, very biased for my favorite group.
1.) “HOLY FVCK” – Demi Lovato
For the first time since getting into K-pop, my favorite album of the year wasn’t actually a within that genre! Coming in at number one is my Disney Channel 2008 queen, Demi Lovato. As most of us know, Demi has had a really hard time getting her groove back when it comes to her life but also her career as well. She’s had some bops and bangers of albums even after her Disney days, but none of them truly reign in the same success as her earlier stuff did. I think a lot of Deni fans can agree that she was always our pop-punk princess; her first album, Don’t Forget had hints of pop-punk and teenage angst. Even at a young age, she slaughtered it, so it was a shame that when the music trends changed, she had to change with them as well. Don’t get me wrong, I think one of Demi’s strongest albums post-Disney years was her album Tell Me You Love Me, but when Demi began to release singles off her new upcoming album, I was hyped.
Her first single, “Skin of My Teeth” had me in a chokehold all summer. It was so fucking good and I was so excited for Demi and going back to her more pop-punk but now a little more heavy rock days. Then, she released “Substance”, which again was so fucking good and was on repeat for most of the summer as well. It was gearing up to be an awesome album so when it finally was released in August 2022, I was blown away. The album as a whole tells a story of Demi that we are not strangers to but still remains to always give us glimpses of her story that she never told before. We see this in her third single of the album, “29”, which is basically her talking about a relationship she had with an older man and how now, being 29, realizes that wasn’t okay. Other songs, like “EAT ME”, “HOLY FVCK” and “FREAK” are such fun and hard songs to rock out to, and even after it being months since her album release, these songs still are on my everyday playlist. When she announced her HOLY FVCK Tour dates and I saw that she was coming to NYC, I had to go and see her and it was no doubt the best night of my 2022 year. Hands down.
Anyway, that’s it for now! I’m excited to see how 2023 is going to be within the K-pop scene and even in the western genre! K-Pop prediction: Seungsik making his solo debut before he has to enlist in the military next year? Please and thank you. 🙂