A K-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
After a string of VERIVERY releases that didn’t connect with me, the group’s newest album is an oasis of energetic, hard-hitting pop music. I’m surprised at how consistent it is. Each track could have been promoted as a title and garnered a positive review here. After several listens, I think my favorite b-side is Underdog. It balances its experimental instincts with a sleek arrangement that makes for a (veri) very satisfying listen.
Following on the heels of Trigger, Underdog opens with a similarly icy beat before the instrumental kicks into gear and we’re sucked into a funk pop attack that recalls peak-SHINee merged with Bye Bye Bye-era Nsync. Like so many of my favorite tracks, Underdog‘s every moment is dripping with drama and tension. Even when much of its instrumental clears or segues into an unexpected breakdown, the arrangement remains compelling.
Underdog’s verses are especially exciting. They crackle with energy, punctuated by a descending brass riff that’s incredibly catchy. This element ties all the disparate pieces together. The song smartly positions its rap segments as an off-kilter chorus. The production softens to reveal a chanted hook that draws attention even if it lacks the bombast that preceded it. I’m usually not a huge fan of this “anti-drop” structure, but it works incredibly well here. I also love the song’s dynamic bridge, which swerves into a heartier chant that reminds me of vintage SM Entertainment. Taken alongside Trigger, Underdog completes an irresistible one-two punch. I hope it’s a preview of the music VERIVERY will be delivering from now on.