Battle of the B-Sides: Weki Meki, Wonder Girls, Monsta X, EXO-CBX, NCT 127

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 Thirteen

Weki Meki – Metronome (2018)

Metronome harnesses my preferred Weki Meki style: groovy and sleek. A stronger (less repetitive) hook would have put it over the edge, but its rhythmic sound fits well within the context the song sets up. There are quite a few effects and tricks applied to the vocals, chopping them to create added groove. I like this approach, though the fact that we’ve heard this style so much over the past couple of years makes Metronome feel slightly less exciting and fresh than it did at the time.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8

Wonder Girls – I Tried (2008)

Apart from the singles, most of Wonder Girls’ early work isn’t for me. A song like I Tried is a good example of why. While the vocal is nice, I find the melody pretty dull. The instrumental doesn’t really go anywhere either, though I appreciate its old-school approach. This feels pitched toward those who enjoy a more subdued sound, as the track casts off a satisfying, low-key vibe. I could easily be among those admirers, but I need a stronger hook to draw me in.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6
 RATING 6.75

Monsta X – Rotate (2021)

I think this is the most current track to pop up within this feature. It’s not even two months old! Rotate does a lot of things right, and maybe two years down the line I might have different thoughts about it. But being in the midst of 2021’s “groovy chorus” K-pop trend, I can’t help but find the song pretty generic. It’s well-performed, and there are some fun highlights within the otherwise predictable melody. But, the song never really takes off. The chorus feels more like an extension of the verses than a highlight unto itself.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7

EXO-CBX – Monday Blues (2018)

I miss EXO-CBX! Their first mini album was so good. I thought its follow-up was more of a mixed bag, and Monday Blues isn’t one of the tracks that has stuck in my memory. The song has a drowsy, mid-tempo energy, built upon shuffling percussion and generous doses of harmony. The guys sound incredible, and their vocals buoy Monday’s overall effect. The bridge is especially good, as the interplay between their voices really drives the melody forward. But, that languid chorus isn’t for me. It’s a real head-nodder, but I wish the groove had more bite.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25

NCT 127 – Come Back (2018)

Released in both Korean and Japanese versions, Come Back was performed on music shows but never released as a single. I can see why SM wanted to highlight this song, because it’s pretty fun. The crunchy instrumental blends classic with modern, resulting in an addictive energy that fits NCT well. The pre-chorus allows for much-appreciated spotlight on the guys’ vocals, while the chorus is easily the strongest among the five songs I’m writing about today. I don’t know if this is a knockout punch, but it’s definitely a satisfying burst of rugged dance pop.

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8

My Verdict:

Fifth: Wonder Girls – I Tried
Fourth: EXO-CBX – Monday Blues
Third: Monsta X – Rotate
Second: Weki Meki – Metronome

First: NCT 127 – Come Back

Congratulations to NCT 127’s Come Back – the thirteenth 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!


8 thoughts on “Battle of the B-Sides: Weki Meki, Wonder Girls, Monsta X, EXO-CBX, NCT 127

  1. We’re starting of with a banger huh.

    Metronome is one of the two songs in Weki Meki’s debut album that I liked. The other one, Iron Boy, was on repeat for a straight up week when I first stumbled upon it. It’s amazing. Meanwhile, Metronome got the rough end of the stick. The verses are great, but the loud chorus really detracts it hard. The stuffed production ends up becoming chaotic and overcrowded leading to a messy chorus. I still like the song even now, but that’s a big detractor to my enjoyment of the song. I don’t mind the melody or chorus on the other hand really.

    The vocals of I Tried are too breathy for me. The vibe of the production could of worked, but the melody definitely is too stilted for me. Not enough variation.

    I think I listened to Rotate when it first came out and I liked it. I also kind of like it. It’s got a style to it, although I’m aware it’s been done a lot recently. The pre-chorus is definitely my highlight. The floaty aura plus the heavenly vocals. I do think the chorus is iterated, but not the worst version of it. I like listening to it.

    Drowsy is definitely the word for Monday Blues. Likely intentional of course, but it’s a bit too lowkey for me. The drilling bass is nice, but the tempo is too slow for me.

    I really like Comeback’s chorus, but every section is pretty good too. Both verses, the pre-chorus and even the post-chorus too. It’s dynamic, and also has a strong melody. The production and their performances are exquisite. The strongest song here I’ll have to admit.

    I Tried <<<<< Monday Blues <<< Metronome < Rotate <<< Comeback


  2. Wow this post made me realise SM actually released Come Back three times. Wayv put out a chinese version as well. I think it is a highlight within NCT’s overall discography but three versions is a lot. It always seems as though there is a fine line to NCT’s multilingual approach, does it fit their concept or is it overkill? Personally I have never been able to decide. Oh well if your going to relese something three times might as well make it as solid as come back.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Interestingly enough, I’ll often skip the other two Come Back releases to listen to WayV’s version! The language fits much better with the vibe of the song, I think, plus their voices are a good match. Come Back is already one of my favorite NCT offerings, but something about that WayV edition really works!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’d also rate Rotate higher, but agree with 127 getting top marks. There’s something about how their voices mesh that’s just beautiful.


  4. Like the comments above, I’m much more partial to WayV’s version than 127’s korean version (i enjoy both greatly though). I think 127 has a better individual member performance vocally, but WayV’s just sounds more smooth and cohesive on the whole. Although I do think the difference in language does affect this – it’s the same reason why WayV’s chinese versión of regular is also my favourite, it’s so easy on the ear 😅

    From what I’ve seen though, Come Back isn’t particularly popular with the fans. I personally can’t relate to (or understand) this – I love it as much as SM does, with how many times they’ve released it..

    Liked by 1 person

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