Year In Review
The best K-Pop music videos of 2023

These Are The Best K-Pop Music Videos Of 2022

Expect camp, serves, and slays.

Written by Abby Webster

In the wildest couple of seconds this year, freckled Stray Kids dancer Felix spit up hearts while bandmate Changbin spit a verse — a straightforward confession of feelings by most merits, though, just to be safe, it’s punctuated with a hearty “No cap!” (And a gunshot.) Then, a rotisserie chicken walloped Felix across the face. It’s an audiovisual sugar rush that goes by in the blink of an eye; it’s weird and wacky and wonderful in exactly the way that makes K-pop music videos so replayable.

That video isn’t even as overstuffed as they come either, as you’ll begin to see with this list — and a handful of music videos here go beyond the maximalist, too. Some of the very best from this year expressed extraness in their own vocabulary: camp, color, mind-boggling performance, poetic cinema, ’fits and ’dos, serves and slays — even a few wily editing tricks up their sleeves. These 10 K-pop music videos, though, were simply a cut above the rest.

Most Mesmerizing: “POP!” By NAYEON

Im Nayeon was born to be a star. Like a stage magician, she works over her audience with a radiant smile, then stupefies with her sleight of hand. “POP!” is no exception: In a solo debut full to the brim with Broadway sets and synchronized swimmers, Nayeon is the one you won’t be able to take your eyes off of.

Most Cathartic: “I hate you” By WOODZ

Woodz is a poster boy for every heartbroken teen of the Myspace era in rowdy kiss-off “I hate you.” “Because you don’t care / If my heart turns black,” the soloist whines, setting his pop-punk hissy fit in an art exhibit — and, as the saying goes, hell hath no fury like a Woodz scorned.

Most Showstopping: “After LIKE” By IVE

Don’t touch that dial: “After LIKE” sucks you into a television set, as IVE winkingly preen in technicolor. The camera loves them — and that’s part of the on-screen fun. Seemingly a cheeky tribute to K-pop’s overblown production, this video (practical fireworks, and all) is as fit for the big screen as it is the small.

Most Relatable: “Arson” By j-hope

Creative burnout touches even K-pop’s brightest supernovas. Reintroducing himself with a scorched-earth solo before his band temporarily hits pause, BTS rapper j-hope reels through the streets in “Arson.” Slowly and eerily, the world around him goes up in flames while the artist ponders if lighting the match was worth it.

Most Introspective: “Still Life” By RM Ft. Anderson .Paak

Trains play an important role in BTS’ oeuvre. They represent a moment of suspension, a space between destination and arrival. On 2017’s “Spring Day,” the band yearned for days yet to come, but in RM’s video for “Still Life,” the leader is living in the now. “The past’s gone, the future’s unknown,” he raps, ambling through railway cars and splitting into various versions of himself. Everything stops and a coffee cup hangs midair: “Catching my breath on a crossroads.” There’s no time like the present, RM argues — to take baby steps in a new direction, be a better friend, or make use of life’s blank canvas to truly bloom.

Most Audacious: “DICE” By NMIXX

Talk about a roll of the dice. After their controversial debut with “O.O,” “DICE” is another brazen rollercoaster of sights and sounds from NMIXX. Hypnotic swirls, a baroque circus, psychedelic sea creatures — there’s so much going on in this video, it’s hard to know where to start. It’s a Lewis Carroll acid trip that scalds your retinas; then, while you’re dazed, it springs an “NMIXX, change up!” on you. These girls aren’t afraid of a gamble: “Expected the unexpected, babe,” Haewon jeers. Consider it noted.

Most Whimsical: “DICE” By ONEW

Another “DICE,” another wild ride. This time, though, the stakes are higher — and sillier. When love at first sight goes awry, SHINee’s resident balladeer Onew is led on a goose chase through primary colors and the uncanny valley. If you know the second-gen K-pop group, you know it’s typically the vocalist’s bandmates who lean into the avant-garde, so this deliriously goofy romp came as a pleasant surprise. Embracing his inner thespian, Onew really hams it up. Half the charm is seeing just how well it pays off.

Most Breathtaking: “Panorama” By Lee Chanhyuk

It’s hard to top this bit of performance art, but, even short of Lee Chanhyuk’s live buzzcut, the video for “Panorama” is a masterpiece. In its narrative, the singer-songwriter is on the brink of an untimely passing. Tableaus of memories elapse — an entire life in front of his eyes. But Chanhyuk isn’t willing to go so easily. In lieu of a death knell, he bargains: “I can’t die like this / I need to try everything on my bucket list.” You can feel his sprint toward freedom in your body. It’s as primal as a gasp for breath.

Most Cinematic: “Attention” By NewJeans

“Attention” bottles the magic of girlhood and cuts it like a montage. Interior, day: Open to a dusky Barcelona gig. In a sweaty crowd, Minji locks eyes with a boy, and it’s just like in the movies. (There’s even a record scratch.) But she won’t get the boy, in the end — that was never the point, as any student of the classics knows. The real joy is watching NewJeans frolic as a collective: they pull silly faces in shop windows; they dance like nobody’s watching. It may play on your nostalgia, but the result is something timeless.

The #1 K-Pop Music Video Of 2022: “Feel My Rhythm” By Red Velvet

K-pop royalty, meet art royalty. Yeri poses like a modest Botticelli muse; Joy wallows as Ophelia; Seulgi and Irene are Monet brushstrokes come to life. Straight out of a theater kid’s dream, Wendy pirouettes and surrealist Sesame Street puppets crawl on stilts. Classical listeners get their nod, too. “Feel My Rhythm” is a music box of Bach strings — even the song’s title puns on music theory. The references are seemingly endless. Where else, this year, was a Renaissance triptych the wallpaper for K-pop choreography? It’s a cacophony, a kaleidoscope. Hang it in the Louvre.