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.
TOO’s new mini album is like a K-pop gift from a bygone era. Its pair of opening tracks accomplish a stunning feat for a boy group. We get two funky dance songs in a row, without a hint of trap music. Let me repeat that: without a hint of trap music! No needless, energy-sapping breakdown. No swag rap posturing. No moody bridge. I shouldn’t be this amazed — but in 2020, I am.
Title track Count 1, 2 is excellent summertime fun, but Step By Step does it even one *step* better. It’s just so funky, and ticks all the right boxes for a track like this. The percussive slink of the instrumental echoes early Michael Jackson, bolstered by bright sparkles of synth and a brassy undertone that makes it impossibly buoyant. It’s the perfect playground for TOO’s light vocals, which I’m really starting to appreciate for their refreshing tone. If the group continues to perform in this style, they’ve earned a long-term fan here.
Then there’s Step By Steps’ centerpiece. Its chorus is a rhythmic powerhouse that’s deliriously catchy from the very first listen. It’s not cloying or overly cutesy, as many of these kinds of songs tend to be, but it has an optimistic drive that can’t help but lift your spirits. From what I can tell, Step By Step is the very first work from the majority of its songwriting team. If this is the timeless quality they’re bringing to the table, I’m gonna need every K-pop agency to hire them immediately.
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I really like this song. It’s easily the highlight of the album for me. Apart from this and the title track, “Dancing in the Moonlight” is also good but I can’t really listen to it without thinking about the Toploader song with the same name (which is already a cover lol), mostly because of the chorus.
I did not expect a buried treasure as I thought the bsides would go overlooked but apparently not.