Most of the time, a kpop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition, too. In the singles-oriented world of kpop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Astro has quickly sprung up to become one of my favorite rookie groups. Much of this is due to their light, melodically driven material that references classic pop more often than whatever genre happens to be on trend at the moment. Their newest album goes even further in this direction, opening with the soft rock anthem Fireworks. Rock isn’t something we hear in the idol world very often, and if we do it usually has a harder edge to it.
Fireworks, on the other hand, is pure stadium bombast. It has a widescreen appeal, thanks to its central melody which chooses to draw out the notes rather than opt for the more beat driven approach common in much of k-pop. But sometimes it’s the little touches that really sell you on the song. The first time I heard Fireworks, the layered chant just after the first chorus was the aspect that really sealed the deal for me. The way the music drops out and the guys’ voices function as a brief framing of the second verse is a nice nod to 80’s arena rock, while acting as an interesting juxtaposition to the soaring melodies in between. It’s a promising hint at what this group is capable of, and they sound absolutely great on the track.