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 want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
With NCT 127’s Superhuman hearkening back to second generation K-pop sounds, there’s a nostalgia in the air. May has been gratifying in this sense, with many songs foregoing current trends for more creative influences. ACE’s Under Cover remains a sterling example of this, and thankfully their entire mini album offers a similar sense of musical diversity. Though nothing can match the title track (a tall order, to be fair), Mr. Bass harnesses a welcome electro pop style that would have been right at home on a 2013-era SHINee album.
Opening with a gorgeous blend of retro synth, Mr. Bass quickly establishes its percussive groove. Thankfully, the track never collapses into some ill-conceived half-time trap breakdown, maintaining its energy across its entire three-and-a-half minutes. It may not be as breathlessly ambitious as Under Cover, but the song has a classic K-pop appeal that draws on the guys’ charisma to imbue its simple melody with plenty of spark. I love the crunchy instrumental break just before the final chorus. It pulses with the kind of bombastic blend of elements that used to characterize so much of the industry’s output. A less-repetitive chorus would have shot this into the stratosphere, but the members’ polished performance helps to compensate.