Most of the time, a kpop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides and album tracks deserve recognition, too. In the singles-oriented world of kpop, I wanted to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Though it can’t really be considered a true b-side, as it was released on its own to promote the drama Task Force 38, it nonetheless deserves attention, especially during a week with a dearth of k-pop releases. Cool is a collaboration between Shinee’s Key and NCT’s Doyoung, and it’s a smart pairing. The two have very different voices, but both are filled with character and charm.
Cool‘s power pop stomp is definitely more inclined towards Key’s colorful image, but Doyoung’s angelic tone provides an excellent foil for his more matter-of-fact vocal delivery. More importantly, the song is ultra-strong in its own right — better than many of the major singles SM has released this year. Composed by Scandinavian producers, Cool definitely feels more western than a lot of k-pop, but this is the rare example of that being a positive. There’s an adherence to straight-up pop melody here, without even a rap break to disturb the flow. Instead, we get an anthemic hook that feels timeless the moment you hear it. It’s upbeat and incredibly catchy, but also carries a bit of grit that gives it a rock star vibe (without being a rock song at all). It helps to be a fan of these two singers (and really, how could you not be?), but even without their star power and charisma, the track would still be super solid.