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.
Monsta X’s Love has already grown on me (you can thank the saxophone for that), but my thoughts from the album’s highlight medley still stand: Burning Up would have made a stronger title track.
It just seems an obvious choice, from the cross-pollination of featured producer R3HAB to the song’s conventionally catchy structure. This gets me thinking: is K-pop against conventionally catchy structures when it comes to title tracks? I know the industry wants to seem edgy and experimental, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There’s nothing wrong with a straightforward, satisfying piece of pop.
Burning Up fulfills its brief, delivering nonstop energy and sleek drive. Monsta X have been flirting with Western influences for ages now, but a song like this seems a much better match than some of their more sentimental efforts. Dance music is huge right now, and K-pop artists could stand to capitalize on its popularity more than they do now. It seems like a natural avenue to further explore global markets.
This song is basically critic-proof. It doesn’t try to do anything spectacular or different, but that’s not a liability. We’ve heard its propulsive beat many times before and its melodies feel familiar too. However, every moment of Burning Up is delivered with precision and polish. You know exactly where it’s going and you’re happy when it gets there. In pop music, there’s a time to be daring and unexpected. But, there’s also a time to surrender to the magic of a knockout beat. Burning Up rides its groove with the best of them.