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.
Every NCT-related album this year has had its high and low points, but when I compare them track by track, I think WayV’s Awaken the World is the most consistently engaging. And unlike most albums, its greatest treasures are mostly found in its second half. I like the diversity on display throughout World. Yes, WayV are known for their imposing hip-hop image, but they convincingly tackle a number of genres here. Special shout-outs go to the moody synth of After Midnight, the throwback groove of Up From Here and the smooth, sparse Domino.
But — me being me — you know I had to pick the bright summer track! These are currently in short supply, so I latch onto anything I can get. Electric Hearts’ peppy energy is definitely refreshing. I love the catchy vocal hook threaded through the track, draped in a satisfying reverb effect. The instrumental is also a treat. Its verses fuse an old-school trip-hop beat with all sorts of modern electronic touches to brilliant effect. It’s a dynamic brew, constantly ebbing and flowing and building to a series of mini crescendos. I wish they didn’t have to throw in the expected trap breakdown during the bridge, but at least it doesn’t last very long.
Melodically, Electric Hearts hinges on a simple hook, repeated often. But, it makes the most of it. Nearly the entire song is sung, which makes its brief bursts of hip-hop all the more effective. We even get a cool post-chorus shift in melody during Hearts’ final moments, ending the track on a high. I can see this sticking around on my playlist throughout the entire summer. I need K-pop acts to start releasing stuff like this!
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