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.
When writing about ATBO’s debut track, I imagined a conversation between their agency’s executive and producer. In that conversation, b-side Graffiti would have been the song the producer was fighting for. It’s stronger than Monochrome in every way, and yet another example of 2022’s inability to choose the best title track for promotions.
If ATBO had burst out of the gate with a song like this, I’d be paying much more attention. So many K-pop groups are doing 80’s sounds these days, but to me Graffiti sounds more authentically 80’s than most of those synthy dance tracks. We have its huge, gated drums alongside an ultra-funky guitar hook that brings to mind INXS in their prime. The chugging rhythm during Graffiti‘s verses gives it tons of drive and tension right from the start, following a super-cool breakdown that opens the track and punctuates each chorus.
Structurally, Graffiti is a nice blend of vocals and rap with neither overpowering the other. The chorus veers toward the chanted style of K-pop hooks that are so popular these days, but it’s in the service of fun, uplifting pop music. That’s the key, boy groups! You don’t have to bluster your way through a track to convince listeners how badass you are. A killer song will do all the talking for you.