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.
Before I even knew what pop music was, I was obsessed with Stan Bush’s The Touch from the 1986 animated Transformers movie. That probably says way too much about my (questionable?) musical taste, but it also represents a holy grail of 80’s kitsch that will always feel nostalgic and comforting. K-pop and J-pop draw more heavily from the 80’s than their western counterparts, but they rarely go as overboard as Key’s Power.
If you don’t like big, cheesy synths and chest-thumping I’m-about-to-save-the-galaxy hooks, you might as well stop reading now. But if that’s your jam, Power goes full-on. Opening with a start, the song wastes no time getting to its colossal percussion and chugging synth riffs. Key delivers a full-throated vocal that — despite its bigness — is only barely able to compete with the instrumental. Turning everything up to eleven leaves no room for restraint, and feels like the polar opposite of where most pop music headed in 2018. The song was composed by Tetsuya of popular Japanese rock band L’Arc-en-Ciel, which is a huge coup for Key’s J-pop career. Expectedly, it plays more like a rock track than a dance song (especially when the delightfully bombastic guitar joins the fray), but Key’s inimitable vocal tone ensures that it drips with personality.