Feature

Battle of the B-Sides: April, Twice, Super Junior, U-KISS, Younha

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-Six


April – Wake Up (2016)


This is a specific girl group sound I miss quite a lot. Yes, songs like Wake Up are a little saccharine. But, they thrive on a good-natured energy and well-constructed melody. This particular example is a little hesitant for my taste. I need those swelling synths to take over in full orchestral fashion! But, if you enjoy early-GFriend’s “innocent” sound, you’re bound to enjoy this too. It’s also the opening to a great mini album that’s stuffed with fantastic producers (e.one! SEION! Monotree! G-High! Zigzag Note!).

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

Twice – Be Ok (2019)


Be Ok comes from the point in Twice’s career when their J-pop output began to catch up with the quality of their Korean material. I’m not sure I’d call Be Ok a highlight, but it has its moments. I’m not fond of the sing-song chorus, though the underlying drum line is nice. The percussive verses and pre-chorus are more enjoyable. Twice’s performance is a bit aloof during these segments, adding an energy that compels in a different way than their typically effusive Japanese style.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

Super Junior – Song For You (2007)


We’re going far back with this one! Song For You is listed as a “bonus track” on Super Junior’s 2007 album Don’t Don. I’m not sure why it’s given this special classification (anyone know?), but I’m glad they included it as part of the tracklist. The song is upbeat and fun. It feels very suited toward a live setting, with a straightforward arrangement that emphasizes buoyant energy. This makes Song For You pretty darn cheesy, but it’s the kind of silly, singalong cheese I tend to enjoy.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

U-KISS – Top That (2011)


Newer fans may not know the name U-KISS, but they were quite big during their time. Top That spawns from the zenith of that popularity: 2011’s Neverland album. It’s a hard-hitting dance track — sort of how an NCT unit might have sounded had they debuted a decade earlier. I love the chaotic energy, especially that crazy vocal loop that fuels the bulk of the track. Top That has a militant drive, with the guys casting off truncated melody lines in a powerful sing-shout style. It’s very effective.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.5

Younha – Wish (2021)


We’re really covering the gamut here. Wish is only a few months old, which gives it a very different stature than some the older tracks on this week’s feature. Her End Theory album is stronger than its promoted ballad may lead you to believe, and Wish is a great example of what you get when you meld her powerful vocals to lush production and a soaring melody. I would have preferred the galvanizing energy of its chorus to stretch across the verses as well, but this is a winner either way.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

My Verdict:


Fifth: Twice – Be Ok
Fourth: Super Junior – Song For You
Third: April – Wake Up
Second: Younha – Wish

First: U-KISS – Top That


Congratulations to U-KISS’s Top That – the thirty-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!

6 thoughts on “Battle of the B-Sides: April, Twice, Super Junior, U-KISS, Younha

  1. Oh man, U-KISS. They were pretty huge in my home country for a while–when I was a college student in the Philippines, everyone was singing “Bingeul bingeul bingeul bingeul.” Should really check the rest of their discography at some point, what’s a good starting point?

    Like

  2. I’ve known of u-kiss but I hardly ever gave them any attention. That said, I think top that is a pretty good song and my interest is piqued. Similarly, younha’s song had my attention all the way through and her vocals are incredible. Two new songs to like on Spotify and two artist to dive into.

    Like

  3. Nick, just wanted to let you know I finally finished my deep dive into infinite. I think I have about 50 of their songs on “my best kpop playlist”. If only I had gotten to know about them when they were still active (and had Hoya, I never thought I could feel the absent of an idol rapper so hard). My favorite song by them is “Inconvenient Truth” and Woohyun is my bias (L is very underrated though, just saying).

    Like

    • I’m so happy to hear this! Their discography is so freaking good. I’m not surprised you were able to find at least 50 songs to add to that playlist 🙂

      Like

  4. I have no idea how I missed Younha’s 2021 album but holy cow. Wish is such a good song and I’m so glad I decided to check out this Battle of the B-Sides

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.