A K-pop act’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.
Kingdom are slowly proving themselves kings of b-sides. I haven’t liked either of their two past title tracks, but each album has included its share of standouts. I really do enjoy the group’s concept and world-building. I just wish their titles felt more like songs and less like performance pieces. SM Entertainment used to skirt this line well. It’s more than possible to meld a fantastic song with a fantastic concept.
We Are (and the almost-as-good Burn) don’t lend themselves to medieval spectacle, but the grooves are great. This track opens with a herky-jerky synth sound that feels quite familiar, but quickly grows more interesting as the first verse goes on. There are satisfying vocal tones and textures here, and the serpentine melody gives them plenty of space to shine. The songwriting feels both unpredictable and natural, which can be a difficult balance to strike.
It helps that We Are is anchored by a dynamic rhythm. The production becomes fuller and more thrilling with each passing moment. What opens as a future bass inspired instrumental somehow morphs into full roller-rink bliss. That the track accomplishes this without any jarring transitions is a minor miracle. Its final third is particularly addictive, taking retro influence with a fantastic funk beat. Sadly, I don’t see Kingdom’s concept allowing them to release a title track of this genre. It’s a shame, because the guys really thrive when performing songs like this.