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.
WM Entertainment’s debut-year plan for ONF has been kind of frustrating. Granted, the group was sidelined by their participation in the non-starter that was MIXNINE, but that wasted time should be even greater motivation to go all out when it comes to establishing the group in Korea. Instead, each ONF comeback has been followed by the promotion of a Japanese recording of the single. It’s hard enough to gain a foothold in one country. Managing two at once seems like a recipe for disaster.
Regardless, each J-pop release has been paired with an original b-side. On/Off gave us the falsetto-kissed r&b of Love Arrow, but Complete is tethered to an even better track. What Is A Love gave me major SM vibes the first time I heard it. This could have easily been performed by SHINee, EXO, or even NCT Dream. ONF aren’t yet as known as any of those groups, but they carry the song with an equal level of professionalism. Their vocals are stellar throughout, riding the funky mid-tempo with tons of personality. A track like this could easily come across as a low-energy throwaway, but the guys pack it with a treasure trove of surprising harmonies and moments of gorgeous layering. The groovy chorus gives them plenty to work with, embracing the rhythmic side of idol pop with strong, retro percussion and a freewheeling hookiness.
I think I like Love Arrow a little bit more thanks to its sort of twisting melody that just hooked me for some reason, but this is great too. I agree it definitely has the vibe of an SM boy group track, and I’d honestly say all their songs so far on both mini albums have vocals and harmonies on par with those SM is known for. It’s amazing how polished they sound for a group this new.
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