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Battle of the B-Sides: Zion.T, GOT7, TVXQ, 14U, LOONA

Battle of the B-sidesK-pop’s title tracks might gain most of listeners’ attention, but many album tracks are worth equal spotlight. I call these “buried treasures.”

Beyond this, K-pop’s albums deliver thousands of additional tracks that settle for a more limited audience. It’s these songs that will become a part of my “battle of the b-sides” feature.

In this feature, I’ll be putting on my A&R hat and taking a listen to five randomly-selected K-pop b-sides. I’ll write a mini review for each, including a Bias List rating, and rank them from least to most favorite. The winner will join a special Bias List B-side playlist. Think of it like my own little agency, hand-selecting songs I’d like to pitch to my nonexistent artists!

You can check out all rounds of my Battle of the B-sides here!


Battle of the B-sides: Round Three


Zion.T – The Bad Guys (2017)


The Bad Guys is very much in the vein of subdued, singer-songwriter K-R&B that tends not to excite me. There’s nothing bad about this track, but I can’t say that it compels me to listen further. The beat has a nice groove to it, and I find Zion.T’s phrasing to be pretty unique during the verses. It feels more like spoken-word than hip-hop, and helps establish an interesting rhythm as the track goes on. The chorus has a nice lilt to it – more melodic but still within the rhythmic framework that the song sets up. This feels like a slight effort, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7

GOT7 – Made It (Jackson solo) (2018)


It’s interesting to think about Jackson’s LMLY single while listening to this track. Prior to his recent solo work, this kind of trap-infused hip-hop is what I most associated him with. Made It utilizes a ton of vocal effects in the verses before moving into a heavy, shout-along chorus. I’m not a fan of either segment, though the orchestral samples during the hook are a nice touch. Overall, this is just too tuneless and shouty for me. I find Jackson’s voice to be quite grating in material like this.

 Hooks 6
 Production 7
 Longevity 6
 Bias 6
 RATING 6.25

TVXQ – Don’t Cry My Lover (2008)


I’m always surprised by just how many ballads are on TVXQ’s early albums. Played one after another, they tend to run together. The group does a fantastic job with material like this, and it’s always nice to hear their voices front and center. But unlike some of their masterpieces of this style (Love In The Ice), I find Don’t Cry My Lover to be quite dull. Yes, the track builds toward a hearty chorus with some brilliant harmonization, but the energy and momentum never materializes in the way I would have hoped. Things perk up a bit in the second half, as the song swells to a vocal-heavy climax, but this same trick has been used on much stronger TVXQ/DBSK tracks.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6
 RATING 6.75

14U – Good Girl (2017)


14U were a very short-lived group, but they delivered some awesome funk pop during their time. Good Girl is a ton of fun, harnessing a recurring refrain that’s incredibly catchy. The instrumental pulses with bursts of electric guitar and synth that echo the spontaneity of the melody. This isn’t the kind of song that builds toward a dramatic chorus. It’s more subtle than that. Instead, the entire thing is a playground of micro-hooks, and these small touches add up to a very dynamic whole. Good Girl is also unabashedly retro, so you know that will score well with me!

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

LOONA – See Saw (Go Won, Chuu & Kim Lip) (2018)


Three members of LOONA deliver a nice shot of mid-tempo pop with See Saw. This song doesn’t stick out as being particularly memorable when stacked against the group’s strongest material, but it makes for a satisfying album track. The vocal arrangement is incredibly atmospheric, which echoes the airy nature of the instrumental. The track sort of sputters to life, gently rising and falling as it goes on. I’m sure this is intentional given the title See Saw! I would have loved to hear a more robust chorus, but I like how the production incorporates a more dynamic rhythm during this segment.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

My Verdict:


Fifth: GOT7 – Made It (Jackson solo)
Fourth: TVXQ – Don’t Cry My Lover
Third: Zion.T – The Bad Guys
Second: LOONA – See Saw (Go Won, Chuu & Kim Lip)

First: 14U – Good Girl


Congratulations to 14U’s Good Girl – the third winner of my Battle of the B-sides!

Readers, what do you think? Did you discover any hidden gems? Leave your own ranking in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Battle of the B-Sides: Zion.T, GOT7, TVXQ, 14U, LOONA

  1. Oooh. LOONA.

    The Bad Guys is a decent song. Definitely not for me, but there’s some charm to it. I think the chorus is the best part, and the verses are interesting from a song-writing point. It’s intentionally harmless production is very unexciting at times though. From the genre probably.

    Made It is not good haha. Jackson is not a good rapper, at least here. A good rapper can catch your attention to how they phrase words and the way they perform. Jackson is just sounds very lazy here, lacking some kind of drive to his rapping sort of. The beat and stuff is not exciting either, but it’s material that I could see other people doing more with. It could be more intense also if it wanted to be. The orchestral was a good touch, but not enough really.

    I liked the orchestration and instrumentation of Don’t Cry My Lover, but I have a feeling that’s just the default setting of most ballads. The chorus didn’t have a strong melody. Some vocal play certainly, but the chorus was more wandering than powerful. Even then the harmonies are relegated to the background. The last part was nice sounding, but just that. I wasn’t surprised by the song, which is what kills most ballads for me so.

    Good Girl didn’t click with me. Somehow the instrumentation was simultaneously monotone and chaotic at the same time. It wasn’t overall bad, it worked best in the first minute of the song and the melody is strongest there. Unfortunately, the chorus did not go where I wanted, and where it went wasn’t interesting to me. The instrumentation never changes, and I already wasn’t a big fan of that to begin with, so it just ended up being very stale very quickly. The mini-hooks also never really sunk in, so it ends up being boring to me rather than exciting for you.

    I swear, it’s not a set-up that the only song I really liked was one I already heard. My history with this song is that I was indifferent to it at first. I thought it was boring as heck. I think after revisiting this song, I appreciate how interesting it is as a song a lot more than before. The song kickstarts after its first minute, and stays great after that. Flowing back and forth from intense and rhythmic parts to atmospheric moments. It’s uniquely made for sure, definitely standing out from the other ballads of other groups. LOONA has a lot of good ballads, with 365 the only real dud (and that one’s the fandom song now).

    Made It < Good Girl <<< Don't Cry My Lover < The Bad Guys << See Saw

    I thought this might have been the first of these posts where we'd have the same ranking but alas, Good Girl was not as appealing to me as it was to you.

    Like

  2. I just really like the English lyric “which is right, I see or saw you? Which is right, I love or loved you?” in See Saw haha. It’s cute and clever and one of the little things that made LOONA’s pre-debut side tracks manage to stand out for me.

    Like

  3. For GOT7 B-sides I recommend Runaway, 1°, My Youth, Nobody Knows, Come On, Page, Moon U, The End, Believe, Fine, Come On, Teenager, Poison, Aura, Wave, Good Tonight, Icarus (JJproject), Coming Home (JJP) , Touch (Jus2), Long Black (Jus2)

    Like

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