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Battle of the B-Sides: NCT 127, Woodz, Hyolyn, P1Harmony, Gugudan

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 Thirty-One


NCT 127 – City 127 (지금 우리) (2018)


I love when SM artists opt for a throwback hip-hop/r&b sound. Nearly anything would have worked on top of City 127’s engaging beat, but the song doesn’t skimp on great vocals and satisfying melody. As much as I love that hook, the piano-infused stomp of the instrumental is the clear standout. This song is a real head-nodder. It’s laidback but lively, and the production feels warmer and less canned than a lot of idol music. It also strikes a great balance between the group’s vocalists and rappers, giving each an important role.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.5

Woodz – Memories (2020)


I wasn’t a huge follower of Woodz prior to the first album under his new stage name, but I remember being quite impressed with this whole package. Even the slower songs like Memories felt authentic and fully-realized. Woodz is a very flexible performer, and it’s fun to watch him skirt between genres. Memories is a relatively straightforward piano ballad, but its rock and blues influences lend it a more dynamic sound. The vocal performance is expressive, driving home the sentiment without going overboard. I don’t often opt for ballads, but this is lovely.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

Hyolyn – Closer (2013)


Sometimes I think my shuffle button is some sort of intentional DJ, because Closer makes for a seamless follow-up to Memories. As soon as that flourish of organ kicks off the track, it’s clear we’re in for a stirring, blues-influenced torch song. Hyolyn is an incredible vocalist, able to elevate everything she touches. I’m gonna lose my reputation as a ballad grump, because I quite like this song too. The heft of the instrumental compliments Hyolyn’s vocal style well, crafting a series of mini-climaxes that keep the track compelling throughout. I might as well copy-and-paste the rating from Woodz’s song!

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

P1Harmony – Pyramid (2021)


Some of my favorite K-pop albums could be classified as idol hip-hop, but I’m not a fan of posturing or the shoehorning-in of trends that don’t feel natural to a group. So far, P1Harmony’s albums have a real continuity to them. A song like Pyramid knows what it wants to be and fully commits. Because of this, its sound is quite successful. The beat has a tense, claustrophobic energy that keeps things moving, and the guys offer varying tones and styles that prevent monotony. This easily could have been a title track.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

Gugudan – Lovesick (2018)


Pour one out for Gugudan. So much potential wasted, right? Lovesick definitely feels like an album track, but it’s the kind I tend to like. It has a breezy, mid-tempo energy but a surprisingly sprightly instrumental. The melodies could definitely be sharpened, but the track gives off a sentimental vibe that’s very pleasing. The insistent drumrolls are a nice touch, but I would have loved to hear the song build to a more striking climax.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

My Verdict:


Fifth: Gugudan – Lovesick
Fourth: Woodz – Memories
Third: Hyolyn – Closer
Second: P1Harmony – Pyramid

First: NCT 127 – City 127


Congratulations to NCT 127’s City 127 – the thirty-first 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!

4 thoughts on “Battle of the B-Sides: NCT 127, Woodz, Hyolyn, P1Harmony, Gugudan

  1. so glad to see gugudan make a rare appearance on this list. I love Lovesick, it’s my most favorite type of gugudan song.

    Nick, you have to listen to SEVENTEEN’s Anyone performance today from their Power of Love concert, they made the song even better especially during the final chorus. https://youtu.be/9_AgZl18VIc

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fun fact- I just listened to pyramid today. So I saw it on the list I was really interested on how it would fare. Glad it left a good impression!

    Also speaking of NCT…gotta love the rumors about increasing the member count to 28. Another subunit I guess 🙃. But hey if it gives shotaro and sung Chan a chance to shine- I’m here for it.

    Like

    • Marks and Haechan went from Gimme Gimme to Hot Sauce to Hello Future to Sticker to Favorite and now this NCT 2021 thing.

      I doubt if any other idols promote an EP, three full albums and two repackages in one year.

      And there other idols in the same group who haven’t even come back once this entire year.

      Why do I feel like SM aren’t managing NCT as well as they should……?

      Liked by 2 people

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