Feature

Battle of the B-Sides: TVXQ, BTS, Dal Shabet, Dreamcatcher, U-Know

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 Twenty-Six


TVXQ – Hey, Kid (2004)


Back during their debut era, TVXQ songs often echoed the soft, melodic pop that had been so popular around the turn of the century. Hey, Kid isn’t quite Backstreet Boys or Nsync, but its synth-kissed instrumental and lilting melody is definitely boy band. As with all their material, TVXQ’s performance elevates what might have otherwise been a pretty forgettable affair. I like the keyboard tones that accent parts of this track, and you can’t go wrong with a spoken-word interlude!

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 7
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.5

BTS – Fly To My Room (2020)


It’s hard to believe that BE was BTS’s last proper album. It already feels like such a long time ago. I wasn’t all that enamored with most of its tracks, and Fly To My Room has long since flown from my memory. It’s a pretty little song, but the vocal effects are distracting and the beat never really goes anywhere. It’s not vocally dynamic enough to be a killer slow-jam, and not energetic enough to dance to. I appreciate the addition of organ throughout the instrumental, and think the song could have been stronger if it pushed further in this direction.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25

Dal Shabet – Some What (2016)


Dal Shabet haven’t officially disbanded (as far as I know), but Some What comes from their final group album before hiatus. It’s a fun retro number – the kind of style their peers Secret popularized in the early 2010’s. I’ve never been a huge fan of this sound, but the brightness of this track is hard to deny. The doo wop backing vocals are pretty satisfying and the hook is a great earworm. But, it’s a little too melodically repetitive for my taste.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

Dreamcatcher – In The Frozen (2020)


Taken from the group’s first full-length album, In The Frozen crystallizes Dreamcatcher’s theatrical sound. Rather than rely on their usual rock-driven approach, the track dives headfirst into fitful EDM. A haunting vocal gives way to an instrumental that’s constantly in flux. I’d love to dive in and tighten a few parts up, but when Frozen gets going it really thrives. The song is at its best when the girls’ performance is placed front and center. I’m not a huge fan of the largely-instrumental hook, but In The Frozen delivers a knockout finale that’s worth the price of admission on its own.

 Hooks 7
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

U-Know – Loco (House Party) (2021)


We began this week’s feature with TVXQ and we end it with a member’s solo track. Funny how that worked out! Loco is composed by one of my favorite producers (Thomas Troelsen), so it’s already got a leg-up in that regard. I wish the instrumental went harder and leaned heavier on the funk, but Loco still throws down a great groove. U-Know’s vocal is lithe and airy and reaches some nice peaks as we draw toward the finale. The melody’s a little simple, but at just over three minutes Loco never wears out its welcome.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

My Verdict:


Fifth: BTS – Fly To My Room
Fourth: Dal Shabet – Some What
Third: TVXQ – Hey, Kid
Second: Dreamcatcher – In The Frozen

First: U-Know – Loco (House Party)


Congratulations to U-Know’s Loco (House Party) – the twenty-sixth 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!

25 thoughts on “Battle of the B-Sides: TVXQ, BTS, Dal Shabet, Dreamcatcher, U-Know

  1. Wow. I was just thinking about ‘In The Frozen’ today, wondering what you would rate it. I would personally give it a 9/10 [8,9,9,10] mainly because i LOVE the synth design on the instrumental during the drops. It feels so powerful and emotional. I could do without the long atmospheric verses but i think that’s what makes the finale so satisfying. The throb of the bass in combination with the brass hits and the synth melody creates that epic psytrance pulse which i adore.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s the kind of song I can objectively say is good, but it just doesn’t quite come together for me. I’d love to take some of the production elements and throw them into a different song.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nick great fucking news agnes new album is coming out on 22th of OCTOBER THIS OCTOBER

    Can you believe it this soon!!! i bet is goona be a masterpiece ♥️

    Like

  3. I really really liked “BE”, but “Fly to My Room” is really hit and miss for me – on some listens it works for me and on other listens I can’t stand it. I think the demented tinny cheeriness of the sound works well with the lyrics – it DOES feel like a theme song for being stuck in your room and going slightly mad – and I think it’s well-placed on the album as part of a slow nervous breakdown between the moody uplifting sentiment of “Life Goes On” and the bleakness of “Blue and Grey”.

    But “it’s a good idea for a song” is not the same thing as “it’s a song I always enjoy”.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Funny, if one were to rank the artists here by overall discography quality, it would be:

    1. TVXQ
    2. BTS
    3. Dreamcatcher
    4. Dal Shabet
    5. U-Know

    But for the songs, it turned out like

    1. Dreamcatcher
    2. U-Know
    3. Dal Shabet
    4. TVXQ
    5. BTS

    Why?

    Also, I think I like In The Frozen better than you lol.

    Like

  5. Maaan looking at your review now and doing the requisite revisit it kills me how… unimpactful BE was as an album. Given how much I enjoy all their other albums. The title track hasn’t aged all that well, I barely remember “Fly Me To The Moon” too, “Telepathy” is worse than I remembered (the excessive vocal effects definitely contributed to this). “Dis-ease” slaps though and “Stay” is a pretty amicable Zedd-type track that isn’t really a discography highlight but is better than almost everything else on this album. Really hoping BTS/BigHit rediscovers their edge instead of what may be pandering to a perceived notion of “Western tastes” (admittedly “Permission to Dance” doesn’t have me all that hopeful, but “Butter” is still great, I’ve just managed to avoid the overplay ahaha)…

    (Also grumble grumble “In the Frozen” is 8.5+ and you know it :P)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure how far “BE”‘s (admitted) flaws are attributable to pandering to “Western tastes” – although that’s definitely an issue with their output SINCE “BE”! The fact that many of the beats and melodies are unmemorable potentially owes more to having already produced a very long album earlier in the year, after years and years of producing large amounts of music.

      (And this is coming from someone who likes the album and thinks it succeeds in what it’s trying to do!)

      I think “Blue & Grey” and “Dis-ease” are two of BTS’s best songs ever, but the album’s introspection and emphasis on loneliness (coupled with the musical flaws noted above) would make it a hard sell for anyone without some degree of existing investment. If anything, the album could stand to be MORE commercial – to try to reach out to audiences who aren’t already very interested in what RM has to say about being stuck at home all day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You know, you have a good point there! I guess BE isn’t the best example of my gripes about pandering (indeed outside “Dynamite” it’s a bit of a retreat from a commercialized sound) but a lot of their recent output has been rather toothless imho and the perceived pandering doesn’t help. The lack of rapline may be part of it, but that’s not the only thing — there’s a certain vitality, an edge that complements the pop smarts of some of their best material, that no longer seems to be around. I wish I could speak about this in more musical terms (is it the production choices? arguably part of it. is it the melodies? could be), but that’s what I have right now.

        I really liked “Blue & Grey” at first (Taehyung bias), but I’ve kinda fallen out of love with it and I’m not sure I’d say it’s among their best — I get those who appreciate the song though! “Dis-ease” I’d say has held up really well, whether it stacks up with my favorite material of theirs I’m still not sure.

        With what you say about the long album early in the year contributing to what happened with BE (burnout/tiredness/fatigue does feel like it)… if that’s the case then I’d rather they take their time with the next one. Like I get that the K-Pop industry is unforgiving but I think BTS have absolutely earned themselves the right to take a break, recharge their batteries, and come back stronger. As a metalhead I’m used to waiting at least five years between releases as far as some of my favorite bands are concerned, anyway.

        Like

      • I live in the south (of the US). In these parts Blue and Gray mean something very different and specific, and I just can’t get my head around why a schmaltzy soft pop song aimed in part at the US market is named Blue and Gray. Maybe if the song was about divisiveness and historic wounds that take a long time to heal, but if it were then it wouldn’t have been on a big kpop album, especially in 2020. My downtown still has some plywood-covered busted windows not replaced yet after all the 2020 riots. Bleepety bleeps still show up at the locations of former monuments from time to time to protest something about their rights, usually in full open carry, which is legal in these parts.

        In any case, I don’t like the song as its too sentimental for my tastes.

        Like

  6. When I listened to dreamcatcher’s album I for the most part thought it was good (besides daybreak). However, nowadays I only ever listen to scream. It’s still the album by dreamcatcher I rarely return to. I realize that a lot of the songs have lackluster choruses and not a lot of energy to go with the good performances. Dreamcatcher EP’s tend to have a formula to them. As far as I can tell they abandoned it for this album

    Like

  7. My ranking:

    5. BTS- Fly to my room.
    The beat feels like it’s from a romance drama. The vocal effects took me out of it. Rapping kinda felt jarring when it would come in. Started out alright though

    4. U know -Loco.
    Never heard a song from him (important to note). Love his voice, but this song should’ve been cut in half. For me, it overstayed its welcome

    3. Dreamcatcher- in the frozen
    I like the verses and the end. Dreamcatcher don’t perform their vocals like other groups and their tones compliment each other well. The instrumental chorus literally feels like I’m walking back to my dorm in the snow after eating alone in the dining hall. I’ve heard this song a lot and I never really ever became a fan of it, but I appreciate it.

    2. TVXQ- hey kid
    Love the vibe of this song. I got listen to sing when I’m sad or happy. Reminds me of the songs I first heard when I first started to listening to kpop

    1. I’m biased as hell! Dal shabet was my favorite girl group when they were active and I can still remember getting the notification in my art class that the album was coming. I had some Hardships come after that (won’t dive into them), and I would listen to fri.sat.sun (the album) everyday. Some what is definitely a 7 and I know it could benefit from a bridge lol, but associations like the ones I mentioned can’t be ignored. I don’t even think some what is the best song on the album (that’s hard 2 love ). Fri.sat.sun isn’t even the best dal shabet album either. But it so comforting to play it from start to finish and some what is apart of that experience.

    Like

  8. NICK! I AM DONE LIVING THIS LIE OF A LIFE!

    ….I want to get into *J-pop*, most particularly KAT-TUN. So please! Can you help me fall down the wonderous rabbit hole of this musical market. Please tell me which discographies or songs to start with!

    Like

      • Nick, Oh Nick,
        you are very, very slick
        you can cause mass genocide with a flick,
        you are that very, very slick.

        Nick, Oh Nick,
        You truly are made of Logik,
        You can cause mass genocide with a lick,
        You are that very, very Logik-al.

        Nick, Oh Nick,
        You cashmoney sicc,
        You can do magik,
        Because you cashmoney sicc.

        Nick, Oh Nick,
        Thank you for this
        If everybody in society was as kind as Nick,
        We would have flying cars quick,
        Nick OH NICK!
        Thank you for this,
        If anybody opposes you,
        Their heads are made of d…*yeah you know what’s coming next*

        NICK OH NICK…
        here, have this breadstick. 🥖

        Liked by 1 person

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