Most of the time, a k-pop 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 k-pop, I wanted to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Once the Olympics kick off next month, I’m sure Louder won’t remain a “buried treasure.” But given its digital release without accompanying music video, I decided to classify it as such for now. Either way, it’s a dynamite piece of fist-pumping pop. Songs like this adhere to a very specific formula, created as a cheer anthem meant to appeal to as many listeners as possible. And with that in mind, there’s only so much ground that Louder can cover.
I was not a fan of Taeyang’s last album, and felt that his formidable voice was wasted on a series of forgettable mid-tempos. I’ve long wanted him to embrace his inner Michael Jackson — a performance style that seemed to be on full display when I saw his show back in September. Louder‘s verses do just that, bringing a sense of showmanship that allows him to imbue every vocal tic with a hearty dose of natural rhythm. I love when YG artists go rock, and the anthemic guitar arrangement is another excellent example. The chorus then reverts to more standard, sing-along fare mired in today’s trends. The first time I heard this transition, it was a major buzzkill. However, further listens tie these competing pieces together to create a whole that feels much more satisfying. That funk-laced bridge certainly helps. If Louder is the rallying cry that the world will hear next month, I think k-pop’s representation is in safe hands.