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’m still processing the fact that, in the year 2022, we have an entire album’s worth of new Girls’ Generation material. Say what you will about SM Entertainment, but they retain their artists in a way no other agency has managed. Reunion comebacks like this are so fun, harnessing nostalgia while letting veteran acts explore new sounds. I’ve seen many fans calling Forever 1 the best Girls’ Generation album ever. I’m not sure I hear that, but it definitely has its share of highlights.
For me, the instant standout was You Better Run. This song exemplifies SM’s ability to feel experimental without simply shouting over a track. They don’t dabble in this style as often as they used to, but they still excel at it. Immediately, you’ll be caught off guard by Run’s verses, which play with tempo and phrasing for a super-dynamic sound. It’s so satisfying to hear this impish, SM-style vocal make a return. There’s a theatricality to the arrangement that really brings the song to life. It’s campy, but performed with such panache.
Not to be outdone, You Better Run’s chorus goes for the jugular with an equally-interesting mélange of elements. It has a halting energy, interrupted with a flurry of guitar that gives this segment a palpable sense of push and pull. It’s warped in the best way. And, kudos to Girls’ Generation for making the song’s conceit compelling for over two-and-a-half minutes. You Better Run is largely one musical idea stretched across an entire song, but it never loses its punch. A soaring, climactic bridge helps create space that opens up the otherwise claustrophobic energy. It’s a mini marvel, and a fun callback to the group’s indelible 2010 hit Run Devil Run.