Feature

Battle of the B-Sides: Yoon Jisung, 1Punch, Zico, Brown Eyed Girls, 2NE1

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 Six


Yoon Jisung – Clover (2019)


Well, this isn’t my thing at all. In fact, I could say the same for most of Yoon Jisung’s work. He’s very talented, but so many of his songs opt for this kind of soft, coffeehouse style. A track like Clover certainly has its purpose. It would make very calming background music. But, that’s just not the way I listen to music. On the plus side, Jisung sounds great and I enjoy the mix of keys and strings that forge much of the instrumental. The chorus sets off a few sparks, but not enough to keep my interest.

 Hooks 6
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6
 RATING 6.5

1Punch – Ice Ice (2015)


Now, this is more like it! Right from the start, Ice Ice’s vocal sample punches listeners in the gut, letting them know what they’re in for. This is a really enjoyable old-school hip-hop throwback. The breakbeat instrumental nails the retro style, complete with record scratches. The rap is exaggerated and energetic, while Kim Samuel’s vocal makes for a satisfying chorus. This is basically a retread of their single Turn Me Back, but that song is an underrated legend so I’ll gladly take more. I love how the bridge brings in electric guitar that goes on to power the song’s finale. This is so much fun!

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

Zico – Day (ft. JTONG) (2015)


From one style of hip-hop to another, Zico opts for a more modern approach. I’m not a fan of this one at all. I appreciate what he’s going for, but everything about Day is too abrasive for me. The beat is super domineering, with the percussion mixed as if the guys are banging on pots and pans. Zico’s delivery matches the intensity, which makes for great consistency. But, I find his aggressive style quite obnoxious, like he’s yelling for three and a half minutes. It’s not a pleasant experience. Guest rapper JTONG has a more palatable texture to his voice, but without much of a hook I can’t say this is a Day I’d willingly revisit.

 Hooks 4
 Production 5
 Longevity 5
 Bias 4
 RATING 4.5

Brown Eyed Girls – Even If You Have Another One (2009)


The name Brown Eyed Girls conjures edgy concepts and edgier songs, but the girls’ discography holds quite a bit of material that’s more straightforward in nature. Even If You Have Another One fits within this category, and sounds quite similar to what many girl groups were doing in 2009. The song comes across as album filler to me, though I suppose it’s pleasant filler. Thankfully, Brown Eyed Girls’ vocals offer a welcome shot of firepower. I like how the song merges the sentiment of a good ballad with a beat more suited to the dancefloor. I just wish their was a stronger melody powering the whole package.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

2NE1 – Stay Together (2009)


Stay Together isn’t as hard-hitting as you might expect from an early 2NE1 track. Its light, disco-pop sound bounces along airy percussion and synth, occasionally pausing to make way for a subdued break. The girls’ vocals fade into the production more than usual, lacking the sharp attitude that propelled them to superstardom. It’s an oddly generic performance, though they definitely pull it off. The chorus is nice, if a bit forgettable when placed alongside their best material. Stay Together has that surging, emotional quality that can be found in other YG tracks of this era (Bigbang’s Lie and Haru Haru immediately come to mind). It’s just not as memorable.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25

My Verdict:


Fifth: Zico – Day (ft. JTONG)
Fourth: Yoon Jisung – Clover
Third: 2NE1 – Stay Together
Second: Brown Eyed Girls – Even If You Have Another One

First: 1Punch – Ice Ice


Congratulations to 1Punch’s Ice Ice – the sixth 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!

24 thoughts on “Battle of the B-Sides: Yoon Jisung, 1Punch, Zico, Brown Eyed Girls, 2NE1

  1. I wouldn’t say this was a strong round. And compared to yesterday, very overwhelming. Yesterday’s was a very strong suite of strong each of which could’ve been the winner in a different context. But, this feature is really great!

    Like

  2. Clover is definitely cafe music, but honestly the instrumentals and the melodies are done very well. Most of it works really well, not Nick’s style though. It’s that kind of song that I’d find in one of those compilations of studying music, but then just end up listening to just that song. I don’t know, this really enamored me.

    I think loud music isn’t clicking for me at the moment, and Ice Ice is just very in your face energy. The retro breakbeat style isn’t for me. It does reminds me of Jet Set Radio, but the song isn’t nearly as interesting to warrant the same kind of admiration. I think the vocals weren’t my thing.

    Day is too noisy and I guess violently rappy. I think I get it and I can feel the intensity from here, but the song isn’t for me, especially without understanding any of the lyrics.

    I like the juxtaposition of dancebeat and harp instrumentals creating this interesting ballad. Even If You Have Another One has nice vocals, though I do agree that the melodies are simply just there. The girls sing it very well, but it’s very much them that carries it, not the writing.

    Stay Together is a decent ballad. I basically have the same opinion. Vocals are just a tad faint and lacking complexity. Not a bad listen to be honest.

    Day < Ice Ice <<< Stay Together = Even If You Have Another One <<< Clover

    I really liked Clover even though I know it's not a particularly special song by any means.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jisung’s music is a hit or miss for me although I like him a lot as a person, but this year’s bside Love Counseling ended up being one of my most played ones. I liked the retro vibes.

    I like Clover relatively as well.

    Like

  4. Zico “yelling for 3.5 minutes straight” is about right.

    OT: Nick, have you heard the debut from last week of Rumble-G “Roopretelcham”?
    ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0glYEdJ-8ew

    I have immediately in my head renamed the song “Rumpelstiltskin” or “Roo Pretzel Charm”.

    Since we all are missing Craxy since their “Aria” last year (or at least some of us are), this one sounds like a crazy Craxy reboot. Its not perfect, but they are going all out and the girls perform the shit out of the song, and that is refreshing. The whistle hook also sounds like another song – as not a gg stan I can’t place it without digging around but my guess would be BP like DDDD. Lyrically, the songwriter must be a secret fan of the Philadelphia Eagles. I love the part where they slow the pace down, not half time but a genuine slow down.

    Like

    • I did check that mv out on the day of release and thought “it’s not for me, but good for them…”

      Heart’s in the right place, but it’s all a little messy and that squeaky synth loop grates on me, unfortunately.

      Like

      • Yeah, you are right, but I am always a sucker for these little groups. These girls seem to have more fire in their eyes than usual.

        Like

  5. As a long time blackjack, I love Stay Together exactly for how different from their discography it is. It is refreshing in its own way. But I can see where you’re coming from.

    Like

  6. I’m curious about your process for choosing these songs lol, is it just a random sampling from every k-pop album ever or is there rhyme or reason to it?

    Anyway, I think my ranking would be:
    5-Day (not at all my thing lol)
    4-Clover (also not my thing but at least it was pleasant to listen to unlike #5 lmao)
    3-Ice Ice (I could see this one growing on me though)
    2-Even If You Have Another One (I’m super biased towards BEG, so 2 and 3 might have been swapped for me if not for their vocals)
    1-Stay Together (Not perfect and I think it could have been awesome if the intensity was turned up a little, but I still really like it)

    Like

      • I was wondering the same, as some b-sides are really filler and not worth reviewing or grading at all, even from days gone by. When I usually think of “strong albums”, it usually means not just strong lead singles but strong b-sides worth listening to even for non-stans and a minimum of filler.

        Like

      • Gosh, Samuel was so young when this came out! And he was supposed to join SVT? Gosh. Both this and Turn Me Back (which I only found thanks to you!) are jams. Thanks for this feature!

        Like

        • I know, right? I mean, look how young he was here!

          Given that this performance happened only a couple months before Seventeen debuted, I’m not surprised that he wasn’t part of the group. He was just too young.

          Gosh, I was so disappointed when 1Punch disbanded after just one single. I had this whole wonderful musical future mapped out for them in my head!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Where is Samuel these days? I actually enjoyed his music a lot and he won Chao Yin Zhan Ji but I haven’t heard anything since?

    Like

    • I think he seems to be back in Korea recently and has been posting some dance stuff on Instagram since the last couple of months or so. Ever since the unfortunate incident with his father he’s been taking some time off for the last year or so, as far as I know, and I’m not sure if his contract dispute with Brave Entertainment has been fully resolved yet either :/ He’s so talented, I hope he can find a way to release more music sometime, whenever he can

      Like

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