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.
Sometimes buried treasures come from the most unexpected of places (I guess that’s what makes them “buried”). Instead of being taken from some idol group’s album, Shoot The Stars is one of the original tracks performed on MBC’s survival/audition/etc program Under Nineteen. The series’ mission was to create a male project group with members nineteen and under, with last week’s finale spawning the tragically-named 1the9. Despite enlisting some heavy-hitter producers, most of the series’ original songs were pretty forgettable. But Shoot The Stars comes from the team of Iggy and Youngbae — responsible for epic work from groups like Gfriend, Astro and Infinite. And just like their 2016 hit Navillera, Stars harnesses the almighty DNA of The Chaser.
Before I get ahead of myself, Shoot The Stars is nowhere near as good as The Chaser (or Navillera, for that matter), but by following its high-energy, bombastic template the song instantly grabbed my attention. It also made me realize that the K-pop industry is still very much capable of producing tracks like this — it’s just that there’s not much demand for them within our current era’s musical trends. That couldn’t be more apparent when listening to Stars’ coupling track (the melodically bland Like Magic) and seeing how it’s being positioned as the more prominent entry in the Under Nineteen discography.
Back to Shoot The Stars, though. Iggy and Youngbae give the track the glossy, synth-fueled panache of their best work. It comes across like a mix between Fingertip and Navillera. The end product suffers from the generic nature of being reality show competition fodder, but its bones are strong. From the percolating electronics that open the instrumental, to the guitar-meets-synth surge that underlines its verses, this is a K-pop sound I desperately miss. If 1the9 are even half this enjoyable upon their official debut, I’ll be satisfied.