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.
So far, May has delivered quite a few strong singles. Yet, I still feel a bit underwhelmed compared to the past few months. I think this is because it’s been a while since a mini or full album has really connected with me, making it hard to pull many buried treasures. And even with a trio of solid girl group releases earlier this week, there just weren’t many b-sides to choose from.
Thankfully, fromis_9 delivers with Airplane Mode. It’s not as strong as We Go, but maintains the kind of bright, fizzy energy the group do best. The song is quite simple, moving from a poppy verse to a more stripped-down groove for the chorus. We’ve heard this arrangement countless times over the past few months, but Airplane Mode wields it in a more propulsive way. Though the instrumental becomes simpler, the rhythm remains brisk. This gives the chorus a satisfying sense of movement.
A secondary hook capitalizes on this vibe, with a higher-pitched melody that adds a shot of interest. The following verse pulls back just a bit, but Airplane Mode never stalls. It remains an optimistic blast of polished dance pop all the way through, brisk and inviting. And as an album opener, it does a fantastic job establishing 9 Way Ticket‘s travel concept.