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Battle of the B-Sides: Everglow, KARD, Han Seungwoo, SHINee, Pentagon

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 Forty


Everglow – No Good Reason (2020)


This whole mini album is super solid, and even the more subdued No Good Reason stands out. I like the song’s percolating electro beat, but more importantly it has a real earworm of a chorus. The general sound reminds me of an updated take on the percussive, mid-tempo trend that drove a lot of 2006-08 pop music. Everglow imbue the track with plenty of spark, ensuring this never becomes skippable album filler.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

KARD – Moonlight (2018)


Moonlight comes from the tropical stage of KARD’s career (aka: when their music was its best). Now that we don’t hear many tropical tracks in K-pop, I almost miss this sound! While Moonlight may not have much of a hook, its effusive production adds plenty of drive. The rap verses are the song’s highlight, perched over the synth-heavy beat. They lend great contrast to the wispy vocals that form the track’s chorus.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

Han Seungwoo – We Loved Each Other (너를 만난 후로 참 행복했다고) (2021)


Prior to his enlistment, Victon’s Han Seungwoo released a ton of solid ballads. My musical taste generally favors upbeat material, but I’m not immune to the charms of a well-delivered belter. We Loved Each Other does everything it should to be successful. Seungwoo’s vocals alternate between ‘subdued and emotional’ and ‘big and cathartic.’ The melody is quite pretty and packs plenty of drama. I can’t fault the track, other than the fact that I simply don’t listen to ballads very often.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.75

SHINee – Beautiful Life (한마디) (2016)


We have another ballad here, this time from K-pop royalty. Beautiful Life has a bit more bounce to it, and benefits from SHINee’s skill as vocalists. Taking that out of the equation, the song doesn’t do much for me. In fact, the whole ballad-heavy repackage of the group’s 1 of 1 album feels like a slight addition to their discography (apart from the excellent Tell Me What To Do, of course!). Beautiful Life is easy listening, but not something I’m rushing back to.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

Pentagon – Fantasystic (2019)


I remember wishing Fantasytic had been the title track over Pentagon’s ho-hum Humph. It’s not a perfect song, but its upbeat, exciting chorus is a standout. I’m not as sold on the half-time verses, and they feel even more jarring with time. But, the driving tropical beat that underlines Fantasystic’s hook delivers the kind of brisk energy that’s perfectly suited to summer. A piercing high note brings us to the song’s climax in style, even if it can be a jarring and inconsistent road to get there.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

My Verdict:


Fifth: SHINee – Beautiful Life
Fourth: Pentagon – Fantasystic
Third: Han Seungwoo – We Loved Each Other
Second: KARD – Moonlight

First: Everglow – No Good Reason


Congratulations to Everglow’s No Good Reason – the fortieth 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!

11 thoughts on “Battle of the B-Sides: Everglow, KARD, Han Seungwoo, SHINee, Pentagon

  1. Hey Nick I know you have said before that Shinee ballads aren’t really your thing but I am curious do you have a favorite?
    At this point they probably have upwards of thirty plus ballads and Selene 6.23/an encore have always been the most prevalant but they have never been my personal favorites. Personally I love Farewell my Love, Quasimodo and my overall favorite The Reason from their Sherlock album.

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    • I REALLY love some of their Japanese ballads (1000 Years, Fire) and am also partial to An Encore, Jonghyun’s cover of Y, ¿Si Fuera Ella? and of course Our Page.

      Like

  2. nick what do you think of Everglow – Gxxd Boy? I know everyone loves untouchable and NGR, but that one always had my attention just from how experimental it is 😛

    Like

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