Most of the time, a kpop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-side 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.
Pristin’s debut album didn’t really do much for me, but I’ve found myself addicted to its follow-up. For SCHXXL OUT (released, ironically, right when most schools are resuming), the girls have taken on a more bombastic, adventurous sound. Its title track, We Like, is splitting opinion with listeners, but one song I think everyone can agree on is the perky, singalong Tina.
From its opening moments, Tina pulses with the kind of tropical sound we’ve heard over and over again this year. But rather than settle for a cut-and-paste job, the song takes a more classic approach. The instrumental bops along a percolating island beat that pulls in elements of lounge to create a vaguely 80’s soundscape that feels very unique. The bright stabs of brass that punctuate the chorus are among the best production touches I’ve heard all year, painting an effortlessly breezy backdrop for Tina‘s uncluttered chorus. Best of all, Pristin aren’t attempting to knock us over the head with every last trick in their arsenal. Sometimes simplicity is stronger than misplaced ambition, and by focusing on an ingratiating melody and distinctive instrumental flourishes, Tina becomes a surprising standout.