A K-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. 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.
U-Know’s first mini album True Colors was one of my favorites of 2019, and a very difficult one to top. I’m not sure that Noir quite lives up to its legacy, but I really like every single song – a rarity for K-pop albums. As a huge Thomas Troelsen fan, I wanted to feature one of his two productions as a buried treasure. And, they’re both great (especially Time Machine). But, Need You Right Now swept in and stole my heart instead.
This is not the most inventive track on Noir. In fact, its atmospheric synth-driven frame is pretty standard. But, it’s the one song on the album that feels as if it’s telling a real story. There’s a momentum to it, building from quite to resounding as it plays on. And though the hook may be simple and repetitive, it hits perfectly and grows more obsessive and fraught with each repetition.
Need You Right Now also employs one of my favorite pop music tricks. It introduces two separate refrains (the “need you right now” hook and the rhythmic bridge that follows) and then lays them on top of each other for the finale. Again, this approach is as old as time, but we just don’t hear it often in K-pop. When these two pieces are fused together during Need You Right Now’s final moments, their competing – yet complimentary – blend results in a super satisfying climax. I love how we move back and forth between them, with the instrumental echoing the chorus melody and the bridge accentuating the rhythm. It’s smooth and sophisticated, which is just what I would expect from a performer of U-Know’s caliber.