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.
SM Entertainment’s releases have been somewhat scattershot this year (along with their entire release schedule), but Super Junior have proven that sometimes it’s smart to double-down on a proven formula. Their newly released Play is a consistently upbeat, consistently fun album that throws back to a simpler time in pop. Its major through-line is an ebullient sense of funk, playing to the members’ strengths with unflagging energy.
If the group’s SJ Returns web series is to be believed, Scene Stealer was in contention to be the album’s title track. I don’t think it’s strong enough for promotions, but it makes for an excellent b-side. Super Junior are riffing off the same 80’s funk/r&b pastiche Bruno Mars has been mining for the past few years, and it’s an exciting combination. The verses are little more than a bunch of party starting nonsense, perched somewhere between rap and goofy ad-lib with way too much autotune used for stylistic effect. But the song is anchored by an addictive chorus that elevates the silliness around it. I love choruses that have this kind of rhythmic variance, moving from chant-along bluster to a more dynamic melody that coasts effortlessly along the groove. Super Junior have never taken themselves particularly seriously, and this kind of feel-good pop suits them extremely well.