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.
Winner’s latest album is unusual in the fact that its greatest highlights come at the end of its track list. Right before a quartet of re-recorded versions of their hits, Remember presents a spurt of upbeat, anthemic pop. Well would have made a much more celebratory and memorable pre-hiatus single than the mopey title track, but it’s Hoony’s solo Serenade (세레나데) that left the greatest impression on me.
Serenade feels like a sonic successor to G-Dragon’s legendary Crooked. Its instrumental borrows from the same palette, mixing surging guitar with electronic elements. In fact, the song is close enough in sound that it almost plays like a tribute. As far as I’m concerned, this is no bad thing. My favorite YG Entertainment tracks are these rock/dance hybrids, and Serenade is poised to join that hall of fame.
Of course, as much as I like Hoony, he’s no G-Dragon. Few performers are. He brings a great sense of personality to the track, but his performance lacks the pathos that made Crooked such a classic. Still, he pulls off the sing/rap balance with his own flair, and he’s buoyed by a super-solid chorus and excellent, hands-in-the-air production. The whole thing’s a bit cheesy, but I love the punchy backing vocals and elastic synthline. With slightly different lyrical content and a full-group arrangement, this also would have made an excellent farewell single. It certainly makes me eager to hear more music like this from the guys.
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