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.
As expected, Yunho’s solo album is a very strong body of work. With only one ballad tacked on at the end, it’s also a relentlessly uptempo dance album. Apart from the single, the marquee track is certainly Swing, which pairs him with BFF (and K-pop royalty) BoA for a dream-duet. But as good as that song is, I’m partial to the funky Blue Jeans, which would have made a great single.
Borrowing liberally from Kiss-era Prince, Blue Jeans is built on an irresistible groove. It’s a track composed almost entirely of percussion, offering a heavy stomp augmented with funk guitar and playful backing vocals. Yet, it never feels beholden to a lockstep structure. There’s a sense of improvisation to the production. The instrumental ebbs and flows, guided by Yunho’s expressive vocal. He’s not a power-belter, but his performance relies on something even more important. Like so many of my favorite artists (Janet and Michael Jackson, in particular), he has the ability to infuse a melody with undeniable rhythm. Blue Jeans could have easily been performed in more of a straight-laced way, but his sneering, sleazy delivery transforms it into something much more memorable. The variety of textures keeps the track compelling throughout, and I bet there’s some dynamite choreography to go along with it. Hopefully, we’ll get a performance as part of his current promotions.