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.
I’ve been watching season two of Produce 101 Japan and have really enjoyed it so far. I think the trick is to avoid powering through 2.5-hour long episodes all at once, cutting them into smaller pieces and watching throughout the week instead. Honestly, no episode of a competition show needs to be longer than an hour.
I’m not quite caught up on the show (no spoilers, please!), but I’ve watched enough to be able to enjoy the original songs of its “concept evaluation” round. These songs are usually a mixed bag, but they were pretty strong this year. Shadow (Slip Inside) sticks out as the easy highlight, even if my favorite contestant (Fujimaki Kyosuke) participated in a different group/song. And, guess what? Shadow is co-composed by Jung Hohyun of the e.one production team, known for frequent collaborations with K-pop acts.
I think the series classified this song as “nu-disco,” but I’d probably just simplify that to straight-up electro pop. Whatever it is, Shadow has that hard-hitting, SHINee-esque funk sound I tend to love. The rugged electronic bass gives the track an exciting pulse, egged along by a prominent kick that keeps the energy bounding along. This filters out for the pre-chorus, just as the vocal performance reaches its peak. Shadow’s chorus is more beat drop than full-on melody, but the instrumental is so groovy that it hardly matters. I’m not crazy about the bridge’s trendy switch-up, but it quickly grows into a wild breakdown that sends the track out on a high.