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.
Perhaps unfairly, I imagined that a 2019 full-length album from Ailee would be bursting at the seams with ballads. Butterfly’s gauzy, sentimental cover didn’t help steer my imagination in different directions. But, the album ended up being much more uptempo than I had expected. Despite title track Room Shaker’s BLACKPINK-esque vibe, it’s also less trend-driven.
Proving the importance of producers yet again, the album’s strongest moments come courtesy of known names. The Fontana/Lingdren-composed Fire and Ain’t That Pretty form a late-album highlight, with the latter building to an especially satisfying EDM glitch drop. Another familiar name in K-pop production — Andrew Choi — offers the first round of quality with Midnight, Want It and Headlock. All three songs are solid, but the retro Want It is Butterfly’s trump card. The track finds a way to use Ailee’s considerable pipes within an uptempo setting, giving her a nostalgic instrumental pulsing with brassy synths and sleazy bass. Rhythm guitar soon joins the fray as we build to the album’s strongest chorus — a swaggering piece of pop melody that culminates in tickles of piano and layers of harmony. And that’s before they throw disco strings over the top! In a just world, this really should have been the single.