K-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!
This round will be a little different, focusing on the discography of a single artist.
Battle of the B-sides: Round Fourteen
Seventeen – Hello (2017)
Though I prefer Seventeen at their most energetic, I’m immediately digging Hello’s strong groove. The beat unfurls right from the start, with insistent, crisp percussion. And, the track only grows more effusive from here. I love the gradual addition of instrumentation, from strings to rhythm guitar. It climaxes in an ultra-smooth chorus. This series of hooks has a great sense of lift, resolving nicely to bring us back to the song’s core rhythm. And speaking of rhythm, the funky breakdown in the bridge is all sorts of awesome.
Seventeen – Rock (2015)
The rugged electro loop that powers Rock immediately signals an EDM track with tons of texture. And while this approach may come at the expense of melody, Rock makes room for a very satisfying pre-chorus. The chanted hook is even catchier, though I’ll always think they’re saying “take me straight down like a jello drop,” which makes absolutely no sense. I also love the percussive breakdown in verse two. In fact, the entire track transitions nicely from one segment to the next, which can sometimes be tricky for songs of this style. This is an early career highlight, for sure!
Seventeen – Let Me Hear You Say (2019)
While the instrumental hinges on a few elements I usually dislike (those lurching synths…), Let Me Hear You Say stands as a highlight thanks to its gorgeous melody. I’ve long been obsessed with the two-part pre-chorus in this one. Both refrains are so catchy and well-performed. The chorus has great punch as well. The percussion hits hard, but Seventeen offer a vocal that’s just as impactful. You can feel the emotion dripping from this track, and that gives it an edge among the group’s b-sides.
Seventeen – Falling For U (2018)
The jazzy undertones of Falling For U give off strong coffeeshop vibes, which is almost certainly intentional. You all know how I feel about this style of pop song. It’s not generally my thing. But, Falling For U compensates with a strong, sweet melody. That keeps the track from becoming boring, even if its energy is still more reserved than what I’d prefer. But as a light, frothy diversion between high-octane bangers, this will certainly do. It’s hard to dislike a song this inoffensive. I can imagine putting this on during the spring and feeling quite relaxed.
Seventeen – Do Re Mi (2020)
To me, Do Re Mi feels trendier than Seventeen’s best work. It’s definitely catchy, but I feel like I’ve heard the phrasing in the verses so many times before. I prefer the quirky chorus, even with all the vocal effects thrown over the top. But even here, I wish the instrumental would pump up a notch and offer more energy. The performance feels oddly drowsy, which makes it hard to fully lose myself in the track. I appreciate what Seventeen are going for here. I’m just not a huge fan of the sound.
Fifth: Seventeen – Do Re Mi
Fourth: Seventeen – Falling For U
Third: Seventeen – Hello
Second: Seventeen – Rock
First: Seventeen – Let Me Hear You Say
Congratulations to Seventeen’s Let Me Hear You Say – the fourteenth 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!