Random Shuffle Review: Super Junior-D&E – Growing Pains

Super Junior-D&E - Growing PainsWith over 3,000 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.

The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!

Year Released: 2015

Let’s talk about “moody” for a moment. It’s become one of the preferred lanes for boy group comebacks: a close relative to “angsty” and “blustery” and downright shouty. The vibe has gotten a bad rap here on The Bias List, but that’s only because the songs themselves have largely been forgettable. Moody, melancholic K-pop can be transcendent given the right melodies and production. And for proof, we need look no further than Super Junior-D&E’s 2015 hit Growing Pains (너는 나만큼).

Seven years after release, this still sounds nothing like anything in D&E’s catalog. Co-written by Donghae himself, Growing Pains jettisons all gimmicks in favor or a swelling, surging melody that carries through the entire track. Strumming guitar opens the song with a gentle prelude to an ever-building instrumental. Piano forms an icy backbone, giving the arrangement plenty of texture. And like any great pop chorus, Growing Pains’ hook is supported by robust percussion that introduces a more driving energy to the track. In some ways, this production is almost nondescript. But, its timelessness gives Growing Pains extra resonance.

Unlike so many recent K-pop tracks, Growing Pains never loses sight of its target. It helps that we only have two voices to accommodate here, and both are effortlessly emotive. But, the song itself flows so naturally from segment to segment. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in discerning verses and pre-choruses and bridges, but when an arrangement is this natural the song just washes over you. Even the second verse rap has a melodic edge to it, adding to the atmosphere rather than acting as a mini-showcase that takes us out of the track. Growing Pains sounds as stirring in 2022 as it did in 2015. I think it would sound fantastic in any era.

 Hooks 10
 Production 9
 Longevity 10
 Bias 9


12 thoughts on “Random Shuffle Review: Super Junior-D&E – Growing Pains

  1. Yassss! This song is like buttah!
    Very nice for a sub-vocalist and the rapper-lead dancer.

    Donghae has composed a few more moody mid-tempos, but they tend to get recorded by Super Junior full or other soloists rather than D&E. For example, “One More Chance” as the Black Suit pre-release was Donghae composed.

    Also, this sentimental gem recorded by Heechul “Old Movie”, Donghae music + Heechul lyrics. A great sing along melody. Very nice for the baritone rapper. As a bonus, it has a real sung break with high note, old school style.


  2. On a related note, if you like “Growing pains”, you may also like the new Kim Jae Hwan “Snail” out last weekend, better than average midtempo, almost folk song like. Kid can really sing.


    (When I heard the title “Snail” I thought it was going to be another cover of the old sentimental ballad “Snail” that Forestella covered back when. Song is about the snail that could. ‘ )


  3. I was just listening to this on shuffle today! I loved 2015’s music and Growing Pains is a major reason as to why. The arrangement of this song hits all the right notes for me. It’s a masterclass in catharsis, moody without sounding too melancholy, wistful without sounding whiny. What I wouldn’t give to listen to this song for the first time again.

    Liked by 1 person

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