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5 Predictions for 2022 K-pop and music industry

Before entering the year 2022, I thought it would be fun to make a little prediction for the year 2022, based on what has happened in the year 2021 and how I feel things might progress in the future. It is interesting to review at the end of the following year how the music industry and K-pop evolved in 2022. So let’s dive into the possible future trends and happenings.

1. Rock is back

Rock has been in the outskirts of mainstream music, and the bestselling music/ the TOP 10 songs, for a long time, haven’t been rock songs in the last ten years. I feel that the year 2021 rock has gained momentum again after the 2010s. For example, Italian rock band Måneskin won the Eurovision song contest, and after the win, their songs climbed to the charts. 

We will probably hear the rock guitars as an element for songs in 2022 if rock music is a coming trend in mainstream music. In K-pop, rock influences were used in some pop songs in 2021. In Jeon Soyeon’s song “Beam Beam”, which was released in 2021, you hear a guitar is an essential instrument for the songs melody and feeling. In the chorus, you hear the overdrive effect guitar, which gives the song a unique stand out sound from other K-pop songs.

Tomorrow X Together (TXT) released two singles that are pop-rock songs in 2021: “LO$ER=LO♡ER” and “0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)” ft. Seori. These songs remind me of 2000’s pop-rock hit songs with strong vocal melodies and hooks. These hit songs hit the top of the charts, for example, bands like Thirty Seconds to Mars, My Chemical Romance and Panic! at the Disco. Maybe we will hear more pop-rock songs in K-pop in 2022; who knows. So rock is already back – now we’ll see how strong the comeback is, whether it will stay in the mainstream, and how long.

2. K-pop tours and concerts finally

The wait has been long for all K-pop fans. Hopefully, in 2022 we all finally get to see concerts, but as I write this, the situation is getting worse again. Some shows and other gatherings are being cancelled or postponed. We will probably still see online concerts and maybe some hybrid concerts, online and on-location concerts in 2022.

These K-pop groups and artists have announced tours for 2022, that I know of: 

Ateez’s 2022 World Tour

Monsta X World Tour 2022

Eric Nam There and Back Again World Tour 2022

Twice 4th World Tour III 2022 

If you know exciting tours/concerts/online concerts coming up, please share them in the comments. Thank you so much!

3. Mixed girl and boy groups & fun collaborations

Mixed-gender groups of male and female members in K-pop are pretty rare, and I really wish there would be more groups like this in the future. Maybe in 2022, new groups will be debuting? Kard is one of the famous and successful bands of this kind in recent years. In 2021 Triple7 (트리플세븐), that consists of members from B.I.G and 3YE, debuted with a single called “Presente“. This song has nice Latin vibes and catchy melodies, so I really enjoy this song.

Maybe 2022 will bring us more fun and exciting collaborations between artists of different genders. In 2021 we had HyunA and DAWN with their single “Ping Pong”, which I think was a fascinating, fun song and really nice production. The music video is very imaginative and colourful.

4. Blockchain technology, music NFT’s, metaverse and K-pop

Is 2022 the year we see more NFT’s related to K-pop? And will there be K-pop tokens? And what about metaverse for artists and groups? All these will unravel in the future: we are living exciting times. Also, blockchain technology can shake the music industry in many ways, such as music streaming services.

A good article about this topic is pondering how unfamiliar the buying customer can probably be about these terms: NFT, metaverse, cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The words are pretty new to many music fans, and we are beginning to see changes very slowly in the music industry in the coming years. Some K-pop fans have already 2021 expressed their worries about the possible environmental issues of NFT’s and also, how worthwhile it is getting them as fans.

5. 90’s sounds and styles

Rock was prominent in the nineties, so the ’90s is attached to this too in a way. You can already see minor signs in popular songs in the charts: inspiration has been taken from this era and music. And no wonder, it is the decade of great Brit pop, the rise of hip hop to the mass music market, and the Euro disco. Good times for a music fan 😊

Aespa released their cover song single “Dreams Come True” in December 2021, and it has the nineties Europop sounds. The original song, “Rakastuin mä luuseriin”, is by a Finnish girl group from Finland (I’m Finnish!) called Nylon Beat. The actual songs’ title could be translated as “I fell in love with a loser”, and the song’s meaning is positive as the other person is incredible and lovable.

Another 90’s inspired song from 2021 is from the group Golden Child, “Ddara”, which has drums, groove and synth sounds from that era. Also, I think Enhypen’s “Attention, please!” sounds very nineties with the instrument sound choices and vocal effects and miking. It is always interesting to find inspiration for song making and music production from the previous decades, and I could see many exciting things inspirational for music makers from the 90’s period.

Some K-pop music videos were definitely inspired by 90’s visuals in 2021: Twice’s “The Feels”, Lee Hi’s “Red Lipstick”, Sunmi “You Can’t Sit With Us”, and fromis_9 “Talk & Talk” – I think it is the phones and the flashlights in the video that remind me of the 1990s in fromis_9’s music video.

These were some thoughts I had reflecting on the past to upcoming possible trends and events. 

I hope you all stay healthy, happy and inspired 😊

What do you predict for the next year or what you wish to hear in K-pop? Please let me know in the comments.

Happy New Year 2022!