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.
When it rains in EXO-CBX land, it pours. In just under the space of a month, we’re getting both a Korean and Japanese album, plus this CF song for Hyundai’s KONA Electric car. Usually, CFs aren’t much to talk about since they place precedence on selling product rather than allowing their performer to sell themselves, but I’d honestly take Beautiful Gangsan over anything released on CBX’s Blooming Days album.
Gangsan‘s bouyant funk-pop sound hearkens back to CBX’s first mini, but the song itself is actually a cover of Shin Jung-Hyeong’s 1972 psychedelic Korean rock classic. The original has quite a politically-charged story behind it (read the description below this video), which makes me wonder how comfortable Jung-Hyeong is with the song now being used to hawk cars — as environmentally friendly as they may be. Regardless, Gangsan has been covered dozens of times over the years in many different genres. Listening to the original, it’s hard to imagine it being transformed into a glossy funk workout, but CBX drastically change the tempo and energy to create something very special. The whistling synth that opens the track offers a nice recurring hook, and the gurgling bass that underpins that glorious chorus is perfectly realized. The song’s a classic for a reason, and this is a wonderful modernization.