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 Forty-One
Taeyeon – No Love Again (2022)
Well, I guess we’re getting a buried treasure for Taeyeon’s new album after all! This is a super recent track (like, from two weeks ago…). I’m not as bowled over with the album as many seem to be, but No Love Again is a definite standout. I like the driving beat and clear, confident melody. The descending synths make a nice backdrop for Taeyeon’s emotive vocals, making this a dance track with grit and pathos.
Super Junior-KRY – Dorothy (도로시) (2015)
KRY are no stranger to a good ballad, and Dorothy meets expectations. I really need to be in a certain mood to get lost in this type of song, and it doesn’t happen all that often. However, this has a nice, classic touch that’s quite satisfying. The vocals are great, the string-laced instrumental is stately and effective and the melody is… unobtrusive. The belt-it-out chorus is definitely the highlight.
GOT7 – King (Jinyoung & BamBam) (2018)
This comes from that weird “Present” album that buttresses a holiday track with a bunch of sub-unit work. Overall, most of these songs miss for me. King’s stomping beat stands out in a good way, and I think there’s a strong track in here somewhere. But, the melody doesn’t really go anywhere and the insistent vocal effects are off-putting. On the plus side, the rap is totally fun. Now get rid of those lame gunshot sound effects and we could be in business!
TXT – Ito (2021)
TXT’s Japanese output hasn’t yielded too many original tracks, but Ito stands as an exception. Written by J-pop mainstays Greeeen, the track is a gentle, wistful mid-tempo. It’s quite pretty, but also a bit forgettable. Given the strength of TXT’s Korean tracks within this genre, I’d expect something a little more stirring. Ito makes for pleasant album fare and a decent vocal showcase, but I’d honestly expect more from all parties involved.
Monsta X – Stealer (2019)
Stealer opens more atmospheric than expected but soon transforms into a dynamic dance track. I love the propulsive, rave-like synths that fuel the chorus and wish they were more present in the verses. This song takes a very cinematic approach, and that works. But, it also results in an arrangement that feels too stop/start. There are definite dull points, but then there’s that funky breakdown just before the final chorus. Overall, I’d call this a win with potential to be absolutely epic given a few slight twists.
Fifth: TXT – Ito
Fourth: Super Junior-KRY – Dorothy
Third: GOT7 – King (Jinyoung & BamBam)
Second: Taeyeon – No Love Again
First: Monsta X – Stealer
Congratulations to Monsta X’s Stealer – the forty-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!