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.
Preceding the release of their newest album, Winner dropped a promo video that hinted at a synthwave transformation. Unfortunately, this concept never materialized. Instead, title track I Love U delivered an upbeat sound that adheres more closely to the traits we’ve come to know in their music. It’s still a great song, but I definitely crave some brighter synth textures.
Enter, 10 Min (10분). While this isn’t quite the synthwave anthem that first teaser video promised, the track draws from those genre influences and tethers them to a satisfying summer dance beat. It’s sleek and exciting, delivering propulsive energy that explodes in a bounding chorus. As expected, I adore the bright synth textures that color much of the instrumental. Despite being obsessed with a retro aesthetic, 2022 K-pop rarely enlists this specific synth tone. That’s a shame, because it bolsters 10 Min with a breezy appeal that’s perfect for long, sunny days.
Better yet, 10 Min‘s hooks are sharp and sticky. Winner don’t mug for the camera the way they do during I Love U. Instead, they let the song do the talking. My only complaint comes during the second verse. I can’t believe K-pop is still falling back on this tempo-shifting breakdown schtick. It’s especially problematic within a track as urgent as 10 Min because it destroys momentum. Fortunately, the song kicks back into gear before that energy can be completely demolished.