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-Seven
Oh My Girl – Real World (2017)
These kind of strummy sing-alongs are perfect for b-sides. Real World isn’t all that flashy or unique, but it’s a fun pop track that bounds with good energy. The verses are a bit forgettable, but the chorus harnesses a great melody and offers a welcome showcase for the girls’ vocals. I enjoy the electronic elements that come in as the second verse unfolds, even if they never amount to much. The bridge also has a nice build, culminating in a walloping power note.
Sistar – Follow Me (2011)
Prior to their emergence as “summer queens,” Sistar’s discography is pretty hit or miss. And for a group with such great vocals, they sure weren’t shy with the autotune. Vocal effects pop up here and there within Follow Me, but I’m more drawn to the electric guitar and stomping beat. The pre-chorus sets us up for major fireworks, but the chorus itself is a bit underwhelming melodically. Still, this is a fun album track that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s got some great segments, and when all the vocals come together the song soars.
GOT7 – Follow Me (2014)
Wow! What are the chances of getting two “Follow Me“s in a row?? This one comes from GOT7’s debut mini, and is sure to polarize opinion. It’s almost intentionally obnoxious, with that sing-song hook grating right from the start. Yet somehow, I find myself embracing the sound. The percussive production certainly helps, utilizing breakbeats for an old-school appeal. The rap is a lot of fun, but my favorite moments occur when the track pulls back and delivers a melodic pre-chorus. For as moody as their music became, GOT7 were always skilled at this playful sound.
Twice – LaLaLa (2018)
Twice have so many great b-sides, particularly from this era. I’d slot LaLaLa somewhere in the middle. It’s fun and very upbeat but comes dangerously close to cloying. I appreciate the shot of positivity, and the buoyant production casts great energy. The chorus is ridiculously catchy. It’s tailor-made for a concert setting, where I’m sure it goes down very well. But although I confidently embrace a lot of musical cheese, I’m not super-enthused with this particular brand.
ONEUS – English Girl (2019)
I’m laughing that this song came up, because it’s one of those b-sides I’ve always considered a guilty pleasure. Seriously, this one is so dumb and I love it for that. Unlike that Twice song, and I guess this is the musical cheese that appeals to me. Truth be told, I did not enjoy English Girl the first few times I heard it. But, that melody is such an earworm and the groove is so satisfying (in a generic 2019 way). I don’t even know if I can describe why this is my highest-rated b-side of the week, but… it is.
Fifth: Twice – LaLaLa
Fourth: Sistar – Follow Me
Third: GOT7 – Follow Me
Second: Oh My Girl – Real World
First: ONEUS – English Girl
Congratulations to ONEUS’s English Girl – the twenty-seventh 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!