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-Three
PSY – I Remember You (ft. Zion.T) (2015)
I’m going to do my best not to repeat songs this week! I had to comb the blog for I Remember You because I could’ve sworn I’d written about it before. Either way, I love this b-side. PSY and Zion.T are a great, unexpected match. But, it’s the strength of the melody that really seals the deal. I appreciate songs that take one great refrain and spend three minutes circling around it. This approach doesn’t always work, but it absolutely kills here.
Elris – Farewell (ft. A-Tom) (2017)
Where has Elris gone? They never quite broke into the mainstream, but have a few great tracks to their name. Farewell is more filler than standout, but if you like this slow-burn sound you’ll find plenty to admire. I like the general vibe and the girls sound great (particularly when they all come together for the chorus). However, a stronger melody would have elevated Farewell’s appeal. The addition of a guest rapper is a nice touch.
LOUD OST – Behind You (너의 뒤에서) (2021)
In another “where have they gone?” mention, what on earth is happening with the supposed-to-debut groups that won last year’s LOUD series? Momentum may be dwindling, but the music that spawned from the show was actually pretty good. Behind You is the sentimental finale soundtrack, with lyrics by series mentor JYP. The track has a very old-school approach. It’s nothing special, but very, very pleasant. Now, let’s get an official debut from its performers!
Dreamcatcher – Red Sun (2020)
This is the second track from Dreamcatcher’s 2020 album that has become part of this feature. Sadly, it’s not one of my favorites from an otherwise strong album. The group performs it well, but I find this sort of minimalist, percussion-driven style pretty dull. They get bonus points for that dramatic pre-chorus, but the hook that follows is a little empty. If it had come from a less memorable group, I’d probably dismiss it entirely.
Xia Junsu – ..Is You (2016)
Hey, Junsu’s got a new track out this week! I’m excited for that, but I’m not all that excited about ..Is You. For me, Junsu’s albums are generally quite hit and miss. He records a lot of absolutely stunning music, but occasionally falls into this kind of toothless, jazzy fare that does nothing for me. Listening to a voice like his, you can easily close your eyes and luxuriate in the grace of his performance. That factor elevates ..Is You a bit.
Fifth: Xia Junsu – ..Is You
Fourth: Dreamcatcher – Red Sun
Third: Elris – Farewell
Second: LOUD OST – Behind You
First: PSY – I Remember You
Congratulations to PSY’s I Remember You – the forty-third 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!