Feature

Battle of the B-Sides: Highlight, GWSN, U-KISS, AOA, Taeyeon

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 Twelve


Highlight – Love Like This (2017)


This song has such an odd opening verse. It feels hesitant, yet draws attention due to its evocative melody and off-kilter instrumental. As the percussion becomes more insistent, it feels like we’re about to drop into a more uptempo groove. But, the song remains fitful, as if unable to find a comfortable form. This is all intentional, and works quite well. But, Love Like This is easier for me to appreciate than fully enjoy. It feels under-formed, and the tempo’s halting nature makes the track come across as aloof rather than inviting.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25

GWSN – Shy Shy (2018)


Shy Shy’s bright, dreamy chorus envelops you right from the start, whisking listeners into the song. The verses utilize a pleasant blend of synths, adding to the sprightly vibe. The melody feels a little unfocused, with the chorus easily being Shy’s strongest element. The verses aren’t tightly structured enough for me, and that blunts some of the track’s overall impact – especially toward the end. But, I like the overall tone of Shy Shy. The girls sound great and that bounding beat is pretty satisfying.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.75

U-KISS – Dancing Floor (2010)


This has 2010’s electro-pop sound all over it, and I’m totally okay with that! The rugged electro beat hits hard, keeping the energy pumping throughout the track. I like the balance of the verses, pairing fast-paced rhythmic hooks with more elongated shots of melody. The chorus leaves something to be desired, as its repetition grows a little stale. But in the context of a track like this, I think the simple hook works. This is silly fun — nothing more, nothing less.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

AOA – Three Out (2017)


AOA would occasionally veer into this kind of brassy sound, and it fit their sexy concept pretty well. It’s always sounded a bit “burlesque” to me. This can easily become cheesy, but Three Out strikes a nice balance. I really like the melody in this one. The verses have a punchiness that compliments the bombastic bursts of brass. Then, the chorus hits us with an extended note that adds new dimension to the track. The whole song upends here for a brilliant splash of energy. It’s quite a show!

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.5

Taeyeon – Sweet Love (2017)


Here, we have Taeyeon doing what she does best – laying that powerful voice over a subdued groove. Sweet Love isn’t my kind of song at all, and that will no doubt reflect in its ranking. But, I can’t discount how accomplished Taeyeon is when it comes to material like this. She nails every curve and peak of the melody before belting it out for the chorus. I don’t find the melody to be all that engaging, and the instrumental doesn’t do anything for me either. But, I totally recognize how that’s down to personal taste.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25

My Verdict:


Fifth: Highlight – Love Like This
Fourth: Taeyeon – Sweet Love
Third: GWSN – Shy Shy
Second: U-KISS – Dancing Floor

First: AOA – Three Out


Congratulations to AOA’s Three Out – the twelfth 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!

13 thoughts on “Battle of the B-Sides: Highlight, GWSN, U-KISS, AOA, Taeyeon

  1. Love Taeyeon’s voice on this song, but it’s definitely one of the lesser tracks of its album!

    PD: So, so excited for the upcoming k-pop avalanche in August! Highlight medleys for both Sunmi and Astro’s albums are perfect.

    Like

  2. This feature is essentially the Real Random Shuffle mix pack of songs. The other Random Shuffle feature always seems to land on something rather convenient that somehow Nick had never reviewed before (usually because it predates the blog), like say “Bang Bang Bang” which sure if I click shuffle I would et to in a 1 in several thousand chances. This is more like it for “Real Random Shuffle”. All sorts.

    The AOA sounds familiar. I rummaged around and dug out “Some / You’ll Be Mine” by Nature from 2018 (the year after this one) which shares or copies or is greatly inspired by similar verse melodic lines with AOA. But I have in my head the same melodic phrase closer from some other girl group and I just can’t find it on the ipod. One of the other WJSN – WekiMeki – GWSN type of groups.
    In any case, here is the Nature “Some” song from 2018.
    ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOsISALvFHM

    There are some phrases and song titles which get re-used but they are just not the same as the original. I am thinking “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker, a classic of old school R&B vocals. When I see the words “Sweet Love”, I immediately starting humming that song. A hell of a melody that Anita Baker just curls into. It was in insanely heavy rotation on US radio in the mid-80’s, won a Grammy, and the album its on sold 5 million copies.
    ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w6udgiojlE

    Liked by 1 person

      • My feelings are a grab bag back at you.
        In my mind I have already renamed it the “Truly Real Random Shuffle for Realz (because there is nothing else new out today)”. But you are too polite to give any review in this new feature a “yeah nah”, so maybe you do secretly hit the skip button, still.

        Liked by 2 people

        • ZICO got a 4.5 so at the very least he’s suffered at least once. Maybe Corvus yesterday too.

          I’ll also do my usual comment tomorrow. Stayed up for a livestream and completely forgot about this.

          Like

          • I was going to reply that maybe I had skipped those, but I went back and it seems I did comment on the Zico “Day”, about Nick’s comment about “Zico yelling for about 3.5 minutes straight”, which still sounds about right.

            For the first 3.5 minutes the first time around, I was just a bit bug-eyed, even though we were all warned. The second time around, right now, my reaction is fits of suppressed laughter and skipping liberally along the 3.5 minutes time bar in youtube. Here it is again, if someone isn’t warned away yet, I give you Zico “Day”.
            ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bBh8fPirDk

            Like

  3. When I first listened to a Angel’s knock I didn’t find a song I liked enough to put on my playlist. After hearing three out again, I’m going to have to check out the album again. I have several b sides from aoa that I love. The fact that their studio album was the only one that had none should’ve been a red flag

    Like

  4. Taeyeon song don’t need high score to be the best song, her song still better than many song who get high score in here. Sweet love is really good song

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love Like This definitely has a halting feel, but I think I really like it. The sporadic feel of the production can work for me, and this one certainly does. It helps that the melody is strong too. I wouldn’t call it under-formed, but I understand somewhat.

    I do agree that Shy Shy’s verses are bit over the place, but the pre-chorus and chorus set it back into a strong place. The melody of the chorus is just so strong, plus the synths are very pleasant. It’s a great b-side, but tweaking the verses would make it a strong contender for a title track.

    I can tolerate the instrumentation of Dancing Floor, but it is also very loud and there’s not enough melody to stick to. None of the hooks are quite pleasant combined with the repetition, makes this a terrible time. It’s not as fun for me really. I don’t really know how I’d rate this, but nowhere near 8. Like 5 honestly.

    The chorus of Three Out is pretty great, and the verses too. I don’t know if they quite fit together, but individually they are pretty energetic and great. I’m not quite as enamoured with this song as other songs, but it’s a good song regardless. I just think the song just feels pieced together without good transitions.

    Oooooh. Personal taste indeed. Sweet Love is hitting all the right buttons. The delicate piano production with a steady beat, beautiful vocals and the melody is pretty strong to me honestly. The bridge with the violins, recorder and slight chiptune sounds, to finish off with a nice climax of her voice and slowly flow out. Pretty lovely to me.

    Dancing Floor <<<<< Three Out << Shy Shy < Love Like This <<< Sweet Love

    Pretty opposite rankings huh. I don't know if this is the most I've deviated from your rankings, but my top 2 is your bottom 2 and vice versa so yeah.

    Liked by 1 person

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