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.
BTOB’s new album is strange in the fact that its second half is much stronger and more varied than its first. Usually, artists lead with their most ear-catching material. Be Together is a rather subdued affair. Even its dance tracks have a soft air of sophistication. But then — ten tracks in — we have Higher, which rocks out with full abandon.
This song just rips the entire album open, offering a jolt of excitement that contrasts everything around it. Rock guitar chugs along, giving way to aggressive percussion as Higher barrels toward its chorus. The second verse offers a fun retro breakdown, funky and brisk and surprisingly well-calibrated to the other pieces of the song. A half-time bridge is less welcome, but the constant presence of guitar ensures a sense of continuity. And, this segment builds toward a satisfying power note before Higher climaxes with an insistent refrain. The drama of the arrangement feels well-suited to the Kingdom: Legendary War competition, which makes me wonder if it had initially been pitched for that series.
Whatever the case, this is the dynamic sound I wish the guys had returned with. We know they can deliver a comforting ballad, but a big rock track would have showcased their vocals in a different way. I’m sure Higher would make for one hell of a stage performance as well.