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 Thirty-Eight
Pentagon – Think About You (생각해) (2018)
Think About You was released alongside 2018’s Shine – the moment Pentagon really started to break through. It’s not one of the album’s more striking tracks, but its laidback, summertime bounce is quite satisfying. I really miss having Dawn as part of the group. His rap here is a highlight, and adds nice contrast. Think About You is amiable all the way through, grooving on a warm instrumental that allows plenty of room for the guys to show off.
BoA – Manhattan Tango (2018)
BoA’s J-pop material is as diverse and strong as her Korean output, and her ninth (!) album Watashi Kono Mama de Ii no Kana is particularly solid. As its title suggests, Manhattan Tango takes elements of tango and melds them with electropop for an exciting result. I love the track’s energy, especially as it leaps into its driving chorus. BoA sounds fantastic, pulling the song forward with utter control. Tango never goes too far in any one direction, making it a fusion experiment that will satisfy any musical taste.
GOT7 – Back To Me (2015)
I played this mini album to death in the summer of 2015. As much as I love Just Right’s title track, the b-sides were almost as strong. Back To Me is the kind of sprightly, synth-fueled summer pop I’m always craving. I love its bouncy energy and brisk tempo. The melodies are simple and familiar, but the song has a welcome sense of continuity that makes the sum greater than its parts. Back To Me knows exactly what it wants to do, and succeeds in delivering its giddy headrush.
Baekhyun – Ice Queen (2019)
Baekhyun’s solo material often puts his voice front and center, accentuating his performance rather than melodic structure. This gives the songs a free-flowing appeal, emphasizing texture and vibe. I can see why people love tracks like Ice Queen, but they’re rarely my thing. Yes, I love hearing Baekhyun’s voice in any context, but take it out of the equation and the song itself is kind of dull. That’s probably beside the point, but explains my less-than-enthused rating.
BTOB – Come With Eerie (이리와) (2016)
This is one of those weird little OSTs from the animated Telemonster series. A few acts released music for the show, and it’s all surprisingly great. My favorite came from Infinite (no surprise), but BTOB’s Come With Eerie is no slouch. Rather than sounding like a cartoon theme, the song echoes the darker, more theatrical aspects of the group’s style. It’s got a great, bombastic energy that incorporates just enough rock elements. And as cheesy as that climactic rap verse is, I kind of love it.
Fifth: Baekhyun – Ice Queen
Fourth: Pentagon – Think About You
Third: BoA – Manhattan Tango
Second: BTOB – Come With Eerie
First: GOT7 – Back To Me
Congratulations to GOT7’s Back To Me – the thirty-eighth 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!