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.
MCND’s Earth Age mini album has followed in the footsteps of many minis this month. It’s the latest K-pop release where the title track has been eclipsed by its b-sides. Earth Age’s core sound is relatively consistent throughout, yet many of the b-sides play around with it in interesting ways. Breathe enlists rhythmic guitar and dynamic synth. Galaxy brings in some very effective dubstep touches. And then there’s Bumpin’ (쾅쾅쾅), which sits at the tail end of the album and points toward a potentially awesome avenue for the group to further develop their style.
Right from the start, Bumpin’ is a refreshing surprise. It delivers a walloping playground of percussion, from an incredibly catchy synth-bass loop to thundering stomps. The rhythm becomes more complex and addictive as the song continues, bringing in extra synth flourishes and additional layers of percussion. What I love most about this approach is the wide spectrum of tones used to develop the groove. It gives the production a fullness that feels very satisfying. And given such a great beat to work with, the hip-hop verses have a more diverse appeal than in title track nanana.
While Bumpin’s chorus doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it’s painted with a funky vocal arrangement very reminiscent of K-pop luminaries SHINee. It harnesses a simple melody and elevates it with a performance that embraces peaks of falsetto to create an engaging sense of rhythm and texture. The song feels like a tribute to eras past, yet never feels stuck behind the trend. It would have made an incredible single.