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.
It’s no secret that K-pop takes much of its influence from whatever trends happen to be popular in the West. Over the past two years, that’s meant an unending supply of tropical beats, trap and EDM. But, there was a time when acts like One Direction and Lady Gaga were ruling U.S. charts, and that big budget, glossy pop style provided the blueprint for some pretty awesome K-pop. UP10TION‘s Big Wave is actually a track from the group’s recently released Japanese EP, but it would have felt right at home in that era.
Big Wave‘s a-side is the trendy (and ultimately forgettable) Chaser, which really highlights the lack of imagination happening in music agencies at the moment. In contrast, Wave would have made an amazing single. It’s a high energy power pop number, hearkening back to a giddy sense of fun that used to be a staple on radios around the world. Opening with chugging guitar, the instrumental presents a driving beat that instantly feels different from anything UP10TION have given us in the past. But Big Wave‘s best moment by far is its punchy chorus, which recalls the kind of sing-along 80’s hooks that still sound urgent and compelling today. The chorus’s closing refrain dabbles in new wave music — a genre that remains largely untapped when it comes to K-pop acts.