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.
I wish LE SSERAFIM’s debut mini album had one or two more songs to really flesh it out, but it’s a consistent work that quickly establishes their sound. I like that they’ve chosen one production team to oversee the tracklist, even though there are many more guest cooks in the kitchen. I’m not sure all those additional collaborators were needed, but that’s the way a lot of modern pop music works.
Blue Flame delivers a great groove, building naturally from title track Fearless. But, I think I prefer The Great Mermaid by a hair. It’s slightly more daring and idiosyncratic, giving the group an electropop makeover that suits them well. I don’t want to get carried away, because the group’s music is nowhere near this level yet, but its rugged synth and creative vocal melody remind me of f(x).
There’s a massive f(x)-shaped hole in the K-pop market, and it’s nice to hear a non-SM girl group attempt a similar style. The vocals here have a lot of character, providing a much greater range of tone and texture than we heard on Fearless. The Great Mermaid’s pre-chorus and chorus are particularly impressive, delivering a well-arranged shot of gritty drama that rewards repeated listens. The song holds back more than it should (it could be weirder and bigger!), but LE SSERAFIM are still in an exploratory phase. With that in mind, they’d be wise to use this sound as a building block for their next title track.