Battle of the B-Sides: Girls’ Generation, Monsta X, Lovelyz, Cross Gene, Nu’est W

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 Eleven

Girls’ Generation – Honey (2007)

Girls’ Generation’s debut album contains one of my favorite K-pop songs of all-time as well as a killer remake, but I find most of its b-sides to be pretty lightweight. Honey fits within this realm, though its bright, fluffy sound feels quite refreshing when compared to today’s musical trends. I like the gentle, guitar-kissed pop beat (very reminiscent of early Britney Spears!), and the vocals are beautiful throughout. The chorus is a particular highlight. Yes, it’s as saccharine as you can get, but the harmonies and layering really elevates it.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.75

Monsta X – If Only (2018)

When it comes to title tracks, we don’t often get to hear Monsta X’s softer side. But, their albums harbor quite a few songs with similar energy to If Only. This track is a fantastic blend of lilting balladry and emotive post-EDM tricks. It might not sweep you off your feet right away, but once that chorus comes around it’s hard not to be smitten. The melody here is GORGEOUS, sweeping upward with a series of gentle peaks. It all builds to a celebratory key change that gives the track even more oomph. For me, this is “sentimental” done perfectly right.

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8

Lovelyz – Goodbye, Chapter 1 (2014)

Lovelyz’ debut album is full of off-kilter synth pop – much more inventive than their cute name might suggest. Goodbye, Chapter 1 moves briskly along fizzy synths and a halting rhythm that feels quite unpredictable. The soundscape is abrasive at times, but never in an off-putting way. I love how the chorus moves into double-time, giving the hook extra punch. This isn’t one of my favorite melodies in Lovelyz’ arsenal, but it’s so idiosyncratic and fantastical. It really helps establish their musical worldview.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8

Cross Gene – Corvus (2019)

It’s so fun to be able to touch upon groups like Cross Gene as part of this feature. Their discography is definitely underrated and inventive. However, Corvus isn’t one of my favorite b-sides, and that’s mostly down to its incessant vocal effects. Obviously, this is a creative choice. The processing gives Corvus an alien-like texture that matches well with the tropical undertones of the instrumental. But, I don’t find it particularly appealing, and the track lacks a knockout melody to compensate. I give them an ‘A’ for effort, and appreciate the artistic risk. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay off for me.

 Hooks 7
 Production 5
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6
 RATING 6.25

Nu’est W – With (JR solo) (2017)

JR’s solos always bring an interesting dimension to Nu’est’s albums. He’s got a great tone for rap, and I appreciate how he’s beginning to experiment more with genre. With is more sentimental than much of his work, and this is a definite strength. The verses are sparse but dramatic, providing plenty of space for JR to flex the strengths of his performance. But, my favorite aspect of this track is the chorus. I just love big choral moments like this. There’s a slight gospel energy to the hook, with the vocals offering a forceful delivery that punches in all the right places. The song’s a little short for my taste, but it makes the most of its brief running time.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8

My Verdict:

Fifth: Cross Gene – Corvus
Fourth: Girls’ Generation – Honey
Third: Lovelyz – Goodbye, Chapter 1
Second: Nu’est W – With (JR solo)

First: Monsta X – If Only

Congratulations to Monsta X’s If Only – the eleventh 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!


5 thoughts on “Battle of the B-Sides: Girls’ Generation, Monsta X, Lovelyz, Cross Gene, Nu’est W

  1. Lightweight is an apt word honestly for Honey. I think it’s a competent song, but I’m not intrigued by it? The melody is decent but not compelling to me, and the overall song just feels a little too floaty I suppose, though the key change was nice. The are flourishes and guitars, but none of it quite catches my ear. Just too fluffily acoustic I guess?

    I really like If Only. There’s something about the melody that really strikes a good chord. The background vocals and harmonies are nice to listen to. There’s a constant piano in the verses and the little quirks that complete the song. I do think the vocals are a bit quiet but that’s a bit of a nitpick. There’s a lot to pay attention in this song, and that’s great.

    I think Goodbye, Chapter 1 can be a bit one-note at times, but despite that it’s still pretty good. For some reason Lovelyz songs can have weirdly great basslines, that slap bass is so good. It’s electronic music, but without the intense beats that are normally associated with it. The melodies for the verses are decent, but the chorus is stikes gold and that double-time does wonders for the song.

    Oh noooo. Corvus is drenched in vocal effects. My bane. Yeah, the instrumentals aren’t too bad, but all the processing on their voices just makes it sounds unmelodic rather than something purposeful. It’s a creative choice certainly, but maybe lacking in the creative part.

    With is interesting certainly. The choral singing with the orchestral backing reminds me of Madeon, despite the lack of EDM. It’s actually really captivating. Still, I know the first verse establishes the song, but it does feels like padding for when the song actually feels like it starts at around 30 seconds in. After that, it definitely feels like such a strong sound to build off of.

    Corvus <<<<< Honey <<< If Only << With < Goodbye, Chapter 1

    Lately the top 2's have been way closer than they should be. Lovelyz's song is such a delightful burst of EDM mixed with their lovely vocals, while With is such an emotional depth of clear sounds under its gospel-like chorus and deep vocals. Unfortunately, Lovelyz just really scratched a really good itch in me for some nice EDM that I haven't gotten to listen in a while. So they win this time, I should check out more b-sides of theirs honestly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t really see what you saw in “If Only” until that key change. They did what they needed to do with that one… I don’t know what it is about a good key change that unlocks previously unknown emotions in me.

    I LOVE GBC1 at first listen though. Lovelyz doing what they do best, bright crunchy synth-pop. I hope they’re not going anywhere, I really would feel their absence in the kpop landscape.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hope Mijoo’s popularity and variety show presence will buoy them to a few more comebacks.
      Kei also is pretty consistent with OST’s and ballads, but I yearn to hear her vocally destroy quirky electro pop anthems.

      TBH a little worried.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I am a major Lovelyz fan and have listened to that record so much that it’s an easy choice. I love the production and the melody works for me. I just think the initial Lovelyz music was so magical, it has continued to be in recent years – just infrequent and inconsistent.

    My number 2 is the Nu’est JR single. What a pleasant arrangement. I really like the emotions at play here. And yeah, the rapping is … good.
    this song is really cool. I’m impressed. Nu’est is a group I’m slowly getting pulled into their musical charms.

    I like the Monsta X and have nothing negative right now, other than it not fully grabbing my attention this morning.

    Great draw!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.