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.
Upon my first listen to YooA’s debut solo album, I was struck by how consistently solid it was. It can be hard to find K-pop albums that don’t just feel like a hodgepodge of disconnected styles and concepts. There’s a nice flow to Bon Voyage, but it’s not too samey either. The EDM-tinged Far is a standout example of a big, beat-drop chorus working well. Abracadabra is a great showcase for YooA’s charisma. But for me, the effusive retro-funk Diver is the album’s uncontested high point.
Back in 2016, Oh My Girl released a funky b-side called Knock Knock, which I’ve long considered an underappreciated gem in their discography. To me, Diver feels like a bigger, more assured version of that song. It’s incredibly groovy, unleashing layer upon layer of rhythm to create a bouncy sound that never lets up. Importantly, the track’s melody echoes this approach. It’s almost as percussive as its instrumental, even when it swoops into more elongated structures. Best of all, nothing about the production or arrangement feels canned. There’s a satisfying sense of fluidity to the whole thing, driven by that unyielding groove.
In this way, Diver reminds me of so many mid-80’s funk workouts. Its indelible sense of rhythm comes off as a modern interpretation of Wanna Be Startin’ Something, though the instrumental brings in chugging guitar to give it more of a live band feel. YooA is absolutely flawless as the track’s protagonist, offering a nimble performance that compliments the production without being overtaken by it. At nearly four minutes long, Diver allows itself a bit of indulgence – and with a groove this funky and polished, it could have easily run for a minute longer.