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.
If I have any misgiving about Nu’est’s post-2016 material, it’s that it too often adheres to k-pop’s darker and moodier side. This is fine in moderation, but it would be nice to hear the guys have some fun once and awhile. As solid as Nu’est W’s new comeback is, it also takes itself very seriously. In this regard, I think album-closer Shadow would have made a better choice for promotions. The song comes across as Seventeen meets Energetic, and that alone should be enough to pique anyone’s interest.
Shadow is the latest in a long line of k-pop releases to draw from deep house, so it wins no originality points there. But, it has a sense of dynamic propulsion that’s hard to resist. Its instrumental gradually builds from electronic bass to a meatier arrangement layered with percussion and synths. This constant snowballing of elements is what recalls Energetic most strongly, and Shadow’s sense of fluid movement is harnessed to maximum effect. The dynamite vocal arrangement plays a large part in this success, multitracking the guys’ voices in a way that’s simultaneously punchy and sweeping. The inventive use of backing vocals during Shadow‘s pre-chorus is a nice, understated trick that rewards repeated listens. But the same could be said about the track as a whole. There’s lots to geek out about here.