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.
I’ve gone back and forth in my opinion about SF9’s title tracks, but their albums have always been solid. And while I wish they’d settle on a distinct sound for themselves, the variety they display on their b-sides can be kind of thrilling. As usual, new mini album Mamma Mia presents a grab-bag of styles, but the classic k-pop sound of Go Back In Time (시간을 거꾸로) has stuck with me most strongly.
This is the kind of track I could imagine a group like VIXX recording back in 2013 or 2014. Its sweeping instrumental feels dramatic and moody, incorporating guitar and strings into its propulsive dance beat. The galvanizing pre-chorus is especially effective, utilizing an airy vocal delivery that switches the texture up nicely. The song’s theatrical bridge — so often a place where pop songs feel as if they’re simply spinning their wheels before the final chorus — is absolutely killer. Members Youngbin and Zuho deliver a breathless rap as the track pounds with an ear-catching aggression. It’s a cinematic moment in a song full of them. And best of all, it feels like another example of the throwback k-pop sound that the first few months of 2018 have been hinting at.