2022 has been yet another year in K-Pop full of surprises and outstanding achievements. Our favorite idols have yet again taken their artistry to new heights by fulfilling their artistic resolutions from the past new year. As the year 2022 comes to a close, it is time to reflect, just like most of us do every year-end.
In 2021, we made a list of K-Pop idols who were the aces of the year. The list included BTS' JungKook, ASTRO's Cha EunWoo, SHINee's Key, SEVENTEEN's SeungKwan, (G)I-DLE's SoYeon, EXO's XiuMin, MAMAMOO's WheeIn, SF9's Yoo TaeYang, Stray Kids' Han, BLACKPINK's Rosé, AlexA, WOODZ, MONSTA X's I.M, NCT's Mark, and .
Read more about why they were the aces of the previous year in the article below.
Top 10 Aces Of K-Pop In 2021Kpopmap Highlights 2021Dec 22, 2021
Which idols do you think shone brightly this year? Which idols do you reckon unlocked new levels of potential and talent? Today, we'll take a deeper look into 10 idols who excelled in 2022, earning and re-earning themselves ace status.
But first, you might be asking yourself...
What is an 'ace' when it comes to K-Pop?
In standard English, an ace is defined as, "Someone who excels at a particular sport or other activity."
However, the definition that K-Pop fans often use to describe an ace is, "Someone who excels at one particular thing and is talented in other fields, making them a secret weapon to their team."
The term 'ace' is often interchanged with the term 'all-rounder' by fans. In fact, the difference between the two is an ongoing debate. However, in most cases, the term 'all-rounder' usually refers to an idol who is talented at everything.
The often-accepted distinction between the two is that an 'ace' is usually the best within a group at one particular key skill, hence they stand out a bit more. Whereas an all-rounder could be good at all three key skills but there might be someone in the group who is known for being better at one of those particular skills. For example, a lead dancer who is also good at singing and rapping is an 'all-rounder' and a main dancer in the same group who is only good at one other skill (for example's sake) would still be considered the ace at dancing in the group.
In the same breath, some K-Pop fans believe that 'ace' is a general term of praise when an idol excels instead of a fixed piece of terminology. It is a matter of subjectivity.
Additionally, this distinction doesn't mean that there can only be one ace in a group. In the same way, if an idol is listed below as an ace, it doesn't mean that there is no other ace in their group.
Both being an 'ace' and an 'all-rounder' hold great significance within any K-Pop group, regardless of how you use the term. In fact, they are both huge compliments to that artist. As such, today's article will give a nod of appreciation to the idols who wowed us this year whether in one field or several fields: be it vocals, rap, dance, music production, acting, MCing, variety, fashion, etc.
If that's the case...
Who are the aces of K-Pop in 2022?
At Kpopmap, we have identified 10 K-Pop idols who we think were some of the aces of 2022. Let us know who you agree with and who else you think was an ace this year in the comment section below!
Note: This list is not in any particular order. It is not a ranking. Additionally, the poll included at the end of the article is intended to gather readers' opinions and will thus remain constantly open. However, no results article based on the findings will be published.
1. GOT7's JinYoung
GOT7's JinYoung is one of the talents in K-Pop that often takes fans by surprise. Just when you think he can't be any more talented, he shows you another skillset that elevates his performance power. This applies to K-Pop, K-Dramas, and K-Films.
Ahgases (iGOT7 - GOT7's fandom) were reminded of how holistic JinYoung's talents are through his successful comeback with his fellow GOT7 members earlier this year. The group came back with a self-titled EP "GOT7" and the title track 'NANANA' in May, making history as the first-ever K-Pop group where all of the members left their company but stayed together as an active group and gained full trademark rights to their group and its assets. JinYoung even helped produce the album, writing lyrics for the track 'Don't Care About Me'.
In terms of JinYoung's performance as an idol, fans especially fell in love with his energetic and happy stage persona that came out to shine once again. His vocal prowess, captivating dance lines, and just plain killing it onstage, were definitely the cherry on top.
GOT7's JinYoung has also set the acting scene ablaze with his consecutive roles in the K-Dramas "Yumi's Cells 2" (which he also sang the OST for) and "Reborn Rich". He also proved his wide acting spectrum by showing contrast in the characters he played in K-Films "Yaksha: Ruthless Operations" and "A Christmas Carol" this year. With this year combined with his previous acting experience, it is safe to say that JinYoung is becoming one of the most sought-after idol actors in the Korean industry.
Adding to his excellence in 2022, JinYoung has announced that he is currently preparing for a solo album release and comeback in early 2023.
2. BTS' J-Hope
BTS' J-Hope is best known for having the most unique dedication to the stage in K-Pop. There is something about the way that he prepares for performances that exudes something more than passion. It is like he lives and breathes to be an artist and perform. You can see this in the way that he dances and raps exercising pure perfection. The same can be said for his music production skills.
J-Hope has had an epic year, reaching new heights as both a member of BTS and as a soloist. ARMY (BTS' fandom) was filled with pride at many of his achievements this year.
One of his achievements was the success of his international chart-topping and official solo debut full-length album "Jack In The Box" and the title track 'Arson'.
Another of his achievements was making history as the first South Korean artist to headline a major American music festival, Lollapalooza, which was not only an impressive performance but made ARMY's hearts swell at his courage to perform in front of such a huge crowd as a soloist when he has been part of a group for so long; especially considering that the crowd included a mix of non-K-Pop fans. Many fans expressed this sentiment, emphasizing the significance of his performance after the concert.
These are only a couple of the huge feats he has accomplished this year.
2022 was a year (like many others) where one could clearly see how the hours and hours of hard work J-Hope has put into his craft have paid off. He is an artist who inspired others with every news article that came out about him this year.
3. WayV/NCT's Ten
Ten is renowned for being an idol that has grabbed the attention of his seniors in K-Pop and industry professionals since his debut. His skills are not down-playable to simply being 'talented beyond a certain level' but rather have an 'all-captivating artistic air'. Regardless of the stage, his skills come together to show a holistically enthralling performance.
In an interview, he credited his unique performance style to paying attention to even the tiniest details. He spoke about how he has evolved in his performance style and aims to make even the slightest dance move more unique. This is in contrast to before when he used to, for example, imagine an element and try to mimic its effect, showing his ongoing evolution in 2022.
Not only did he make an incredible comeback with his solo single 'Birthday', but he made an impact through activities such as his MCing gig on the Thai show "Food Truck Battle" and participating in its accompanying fanmeeting. Ten also made a bold impression as a mentor/team leader on the Chinese show "Great Dance Crew".
2022 was a year where Ten showed his ability to lead a creative frontier with his fresh ideas and personality on full display.
4. ASTRO's Rocky
Well-known for his hexagonal talent and multitude of skills as a performer, ASTRO's Rocky had a stellar year as an artist in 2022. When someone says 'performance in K-Pop', Rocky is definitely at the top of the list of idols who come to mind. He was born to be on stage and once he gets on that platform, his vocal color and dynamite dance moves will make sure that you're aware of that fact.
Not only did he have a successful comeback with his fellow ASTRO members for their third full-length album "Drive to the Starry Road" and the title track 'Candy Sugar Pop'; but 2022 also marked the debut of his sub-unit with fellow ASTRO member JinJin.
AROHA (ASTRO's fandom) praised their debut with "Restore" and the title track 'Just Breathe' (also spelled 'Just Breath'), especially emphasizing how the sub-unit solidifies Rocky's fabulous performance skills. His rap, vocals, and dance were all, simply put, phenomenal.
Rocky had an excellent year in terms of producing this year, too. He helped produce (rap making, writing, and composing) the bulk of both "Drive to the Starry Road" and "Restore"; not to mention producing his own personal projects.
This year also proved significant in terms of Rocky's acting career. Not only did he win an award for 'Best Actor' due to his role in the web drama "Broke Rookie Star" at the Seoul WebFest 2022 awards; but he also made his musical acting debut (his first after debuting as an idol) with a role in "The Three Musketeers".
2022 was clearly an amazing year for Rocky, and we can't wait to see what he achieves next year.
5. 3RACHA (Stray Kids' ChangBin, BangChan, and Han)
This power trio achieved great heights in 2022. All three members are already known for their incredible charisma on stage, their heartfelt passion and attitudes that lights up their performances, and their multitude of skills.
Stray Kids, as a whole, has been having a record-breaking year. Each of the members have worked extremely hard to get to the point that they have and the group is destined to go nowhere but up from here.
This year alone, the group has reached numerous achievements such as becoming triple million sellers with their seventh mini album "MAXIDENT" and topping Billboard main albums charts, to name a couple.
3RACHA has played a big role in that success, too. The trio has been producing music for Stray Kids since before their debut and have continously been adding to the group's fierce discography throughout their career.
The three of them are even getting opportunities to collaborate with Korean industry legends such as Jung JaeIl and Tiger JK this year at the MAMA Awards.
The majority of Stray Kids' songs have been written by 3RACHA and that has allowed them to come into their own sound and a success that they can completely claim as their own.
Musically, even though they have been steadily on the rise since their debut, 2022 felt like a year where they all gained a lot of much-deserved recognition both on and off the stage from K-Pop fans worldwide.
6. TXT's YeonJun
When it comes to aces in the 4th generation of K-Pop, TXT's YeonJun is always one of the first idols to be mentioned. Fans often wonder what his veteran years as an idol will look like if he is so incredibly talented already. When his amazing dance skills meet his unique vocal color (both in singing and rapping), fans are guaranteed a solid performance.
He is renowned for his work ethic, especially.
TXT, as a whole, had a number of grand achievements in 2022, including being the first K-Pop group to perform at Lollapalooza. They also recently walked the red carpet as nominees at the American Music Awards.
During a year filled with highs, many K-Pop fans came to acknowledge YeonJun's skills.
The media has mentioned YeonJun as being a fan magnet with his massive appeal as an artist. He has also made waves in the fashion industry again, cemented his status as an idol MC through his position on "Inkigayo" (his longest-running MC gig), and his special dance performances this year were also marvelous.
2022 is a year that allowed more people to see TXT's YeonJun as the ace that he is.
7. SEVENTEEN's WooZi
When it comes to SEVENTEEN's WooZi, the phrase 'musical genius' often comes to mind. Not only is WooZi known as an absolute bombshell on stage, especially vocally, but he is one of the best lyricists among K-Pop idols.
Not only did SEVENTEEN have a 'HOT' year, pun intended, but WooZi showed his gem-like artistry, as well. He excelled in music production this year, adding all of the songs from SEVENTEEN's "Face the Sun" and "Sector 17" albums to his writing and composition credits. This is in addition to songs by his fellow members THE8 and Hoshi (featuring Tiger JK).
He also released his solo mixtape "Ruby" at the beginning of the year, breaking records with it in less than 24 hours. It was ranked number one on the iTunes Song Chart in 18 countries and entered the top 10 in 35 countries. Many were shocked at how quickly he was able to achieve this and it only asserted his position as an influential artist in the eyes of many.
2022 will definitely go down as a memorable year in the legend of the artist WooZi. We're definitely looking forward to reading the next chapter in 2023.
8. MAMAMOO's MoonByul
When it comes to 'charisma', MAMAMOO's MoonByul is the standard. She is known as one of those idols who surprises you with the force she carries on stage, especially when showing off her range of skills.
Firstly, MoonByul had an excellent comeback with her fellow MAMAMOO members with their album "Mic On" and the title track 'Illella'.
Additionally, in 2022, many K-Pop fans discovered hidden sides of MoonByul. Not only did her releases of "6equence", "C.I.T.T (Cheese in the Trap)", and other singles, bring her artistry into a new spotlight; but her time on the survival program "The Second World" showcased her holistic charm.
MoonByul proved (once again) that not only can she excel at rapping and owning the stage with her charisma, but she is also an excellent singer with a strong sense of creative direction. It made many fans think about her impact as an artist and look at her with new-found appreciation. Not to mention that her songwriting and composing skills were on full display in both her album releases this year.
2022 gave MoonByul some of the well-deserved attention that many fans have been hoping for by showcasing her overwhelming talent.
HyoLyn has achieved legendary status in the world of K-Pop. Not only is she known as one of the strongest and best vocalists in K-Pop, but she is also considered one of the best dancers in the industry. HyoLyn has also been known to do well as a rapper. She lacks nothing onstage and performs giving her everything to the audience.
Her participation in "Queendom 2" this year especially showed off her knack for creative direction, production, leadership, and mentorship, in addition to her talent.
Her comeback with the album "ICE" and the title track 'No Thanks' after the show ended, also showcased her artistry and talent for songwriting and composition.
2022 is yet another year that highlighted her next-level status as an ace and a veteran in the K-Pop sphere.
10. IVE's An YuJin
Although she is still considered a rookie (as a member of IVE), An YuJin has taken the K-Pop industry by storm this year. Many have given her praise for excelling in performing by showing off her excellent dance skills, great vocals, and even her rap skills, too. In fact, many fans feel that she is on a steady rise to ace status (whilst some feel that she has reached it already), having made a bold impression this year.
On top of her enchanting stage presence and aura, An YuJin has had an excellent year in terms of other activities such as MCing, in the fashion industry, and as a personality on variety shows such as "Earth Arcade".
She also stood as a solid force in terms of leadership, playing a significant role in IVE's success this year along with the other members. For instance, IVE has had a year filled with accomplishments that are often uncommon for rookies to achieve, such as winning grand prizes at music award shows and becoming a million-seller group.
As an idol, An YuJin has exhibited exponential growth this year. 2022 showed a taste of what An YuJin can achieve through her future career to us all.
Who was your K-Pop idol ace in 2022? Which idols do you think exhibited ace-like qualities this year? Let us know in the comments!
Which of these K-Pop idols do you think is the best ace of 2022?
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