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.
As should be the case with any celebration, Highlight’s new mini-album kicks off with two back-to-back party starters. Can Be Better impressed with its catchy, rock-infused sing-along, but opening track Celebrate is just as strong as it explores a more club-friendly dance throwback.
The song kicks off with a keys-driven house beat straight out of the nineties. The immediacy of its energy is jarring in the best way possible, especially for Highlight. Nothing in their discography has pushed quite this far towards retro club music, and that’s a refreshing approach for what’s essentially an anniversary track. I’ve been very hard on 2017’s trend of replacing choruses with instrumental breakdowns, but Celebrate is the rare exception to my frustrations. The wordless hook here is so perfectly calibrated — so ebulliently explosive — that it trumps the need for any additional melody. Of course, we do get main vocal Yoseob blasting out a one-line hook in his effortlessly powerful style, and it’s an effective refrain to tie everything together. Highlight really do seem to be having a blast during this second, unexpected stage of their career, and songs like this best display that addictive energy. They’re becoming a more versatile group than many would have expected, and I hope that adventurous spirit continues.