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.
Groups with a large number of members are nothing new in k-pop, but it feels like this trend has absolutely exploded in the past couple of years. I guess we can thank Seventeen for bringing it back. In many ways, this bulky configuration makes sense. More members means a greater chance of fans finding a bias to connect with. It also means more sources of income, provided that the group has established a certain level of success. But I’ve never understood how smaller agencies can afford to risk the financial challenges of a large group. We’re talking extra costs for room and board, extra travel expense, extra wardrobe and extra meals. It’s no wonder so many rookies end their careers before they even really begin — usually with a hefty debt owed to their fledgling agency.
Golden Child are hardly from a small agency, but their large roster also sets expectations when it comes to sound and style. It’s harder to pull off a mid-tempo or ballad with so many voices to account for, so it becomes almost imperative that their music focus on energy and performance. That’s probably why DamDaDi (as fun and catchy as it is) steered dangerously close to novelty. With Me threatens to do the same, but the song smartly tethers itself to a different genre entirely. While DamDaDi sprung from a musical-esque backbone of sunny power pop, With Me takes a surprising swerve toward swing and big band. This prospect sounds utterly dreadful, but the instrumental’s sticky brass refrain plays wonderfully with the double-time beat and explosive energy. Better yet, the track feels as if it gives each member something interesting to do. When it comes down to it, it’s basically a string of character appeals tied together with a wicked hook. But isn’t that the same template that made those first three Twice songs so addictive last year?