Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides 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.
Back in k-pop’s second generation (approximately 2003-2011), agency collaboration albums were commonplace. SM Entertainment released compilations for both the summer and winter seasons, and agencies like YG Entertainment held concerts encompassing their entire roster. While inter-company collaborations certainly haven’t gone away, entire albums’ worth of original material have become pretty rare.
Enter Cube Entertainment, who have been enjoying a resurgence this year thanks to rookies like (G)I-DLE and Pentagon. To tie in with a recent concert, the agency has released a four-track mini album under the “2018 United Cube” moniker. And best of all, the songs are actually pretty strong. My favorite is Young & One, which includes members of every active Cube group. Produced by Breadbeat, the song employs a now-familiar tropical beat as its base, but twists it with a smart, diverse arrangement. I love how the pre-chorus avoids the expected EDM build, pulling back to reveal an addictive bit of percussion instead. But Young’s best moment is its chanting post-chorus hook, which perfectly layers both male and female vocals to create a rousing battle cry. It’s only the first day of summer, and we’re bound to hear songs of this style for months to come. Young & One may be derivative, but at least it gets the sound right.