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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!