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.
I liked this one too. But I’m surprised to see no buried treasure from Oh My Girl’s EP? I thought that one was really strong this time around.
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True! My Doll is my favorite song of the album, it has a unique vibe you rarely see on usual Kpop songs.
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Thank you. I hope I can count on you when we storm Nick’s castle and demand it’s inclusion.
(runs off to sharpen the pitch forks and light the torches)
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I think he mentioned on twitter that he didn’t resonate with it…something like:
“gosh, if only someone told me I would have been disappointed by BOTH Dream and Oh My Girl’s albums😥”.
*the pitchforks just got sharper*
*the torches now burn brighter*
Unexpected honestly, but not unwelcome. The stripped-down chorus really didn’t work for me at first, until it did and now I really appreciate it.
What really sealed the deal with me from when I first listened was the bridge, where at 2:05 the synth just kicks into high gear and for 20 seconds the bridge just bangs. The whole section just reminded me of travelling in the car with music blasting in my ears with the cold air of the car air conditioner. The melody is exquisite and “over and over” still pops up in my head every now and then.
While I love the whole song, I totally would’ve loved for that to have been the chorus of another song. Despite that, it doesn’t detract from how good Airplane Mode is.
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Oh, wow – I really like this! Thanks for putting it up; I wouldn’t have found it otherwise. “Buried treasure,” indeed!
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I agree with everything you said, Nick. This is a decent song and 8.5 seems appropriate. As a recent adoptee to the “flover” collective, each song I listen to helps me appreciate the strengths of the individual members. Producers may craft a song with a very specific goal, but it will change based on the abilities of the singers. Those changes may make the end result better or worse from the original design. Part of the reason why I’m a fan of this group is their songs are full of individual stylings. Obviously, Gyuri is the pack leader, but all of the members bring something different to the mix. Whether it’s the way they ascend/descend between notes, or the use of a falsetto/vibrato, or.. ..well, you get it.
I mention this because while I understand your choice of “Airplane Mode” as the buried treasure track, I’m going to deviate from my usual “A ballad? Umm, no thanks” posture and pick “Promise” as my personal buried treasure. Why? Because even though it’s a ballad, it is chock full of all that vocal personality that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Sure.. ..it’s a ballad, and it’s not a particularly unique one, but it filled with so much vocal flavor that I’m drawn to it.
Ref (Promise): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpJk8_4Vbi0
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