Though k-pop rises or falls on the strength of its singles, a group’s real strengths can often be found in the lesser-known material that makes up their mini albums and full lengths.
The definition of “album” in k-pop is so wide that I’ve got to lay down some ground rules before composing any sort of proper countdown. Here’s the criteria to be eligible for my “Top Five Best Albums” lists:
- Albums must be at least five tracks in length (intros count)
- Japanese albums are eligible, but I remove any re-recordings of Korean tracks, leaving only the original material
- When an album is repackaged, I’ll choose the version that is stronger (usually the repackage)
With that out of the way, it’s time to look at the best albums by k-pop boy group B1A4!
5. Who Am I (2014)
Released at the height of winter, the group’s second full-length album is their most subtle, mature effort. Though Who Am I and Drunk On Music gave us the kind of uptempo dance tracks we’d gotten used to from the guys, the majority of the album is devoted to mid-tempo r&b/pop. It’s best taken as one full project, even though title track Lonely is one of the best moments of B1A4’s discography.
Title Tracks: Lonely
4. Good Timing (2016)
B1A4 started composing their own material early in their career, but Good Timing feels like their fullest work yet. It’s a brilliant selection of diverse pop styles, drawn together by a lush, cinematic production style. Melancholy and Good Timing supply the requisite power pop anthems, while songs like Nightmare and Drunk On You see the group pushing their sound into new styles.
Title Tracks: A Lie
3. What’s Happening (2013)
What’s Happening represents B1A4 at the peak of their powers. Not only does it feature their biggest single, but also their best b-side in the form of the gorgeous Starlight Song. The surging Yesterday and How Many Times are further evidence that, by this time in their career, B1A4 had found a style unique to them.
Title Tracks: What’s Happening
2. Sweet Girl (2015)
I’ve always been a sucker for leader Jinyoung’s compositions, and the majority of the Sweet Girl mini album was crafted from his hands. It’s short but sweet, and doesn’t have a bad song on it. 10 Years Later would have made an even better single than the title track, and You Are A Girl, I Am A Boy is ridiculously fun and innocent in a way only B1A4 can deliver.
Title Tracks: Sweet Girl
1. Solo Day (2014)
It may not be their flashiest album. It’s not their most commercially successful, either. But Solo Day perfectly distills the sounds of summer into one of the most cohesive k-pop releases of the past decade. Divided equally between uptempo tracks and slower, acoustically-oriented material, it was also the first album where the members wrote or co-wrote every track. A Glass Of Water is one of their most energetic b-sides, while You Make Me A Fool puts full spotlight on their vocals and Jinyoung’s gift for a gorgeous pop melody. The funky Drive is still one of CNU’s best compositions, and It’s Going Well is a strong example of B1A4 comfortably cementing their trademark sound.
Title Tracks: Solo Day
What are your favorite B1A4 albums?