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.
While I found ONEUS’s new title track pretty underwhelming, it’s backed by some notable b-sides worth checking out. The group usually has at least one or two songs on each album that I prefer to the title. Though they often work with the same team of producers, their work is more varied than some of their promoted songs might suggest.
Mermaid casts a super-satisfying synth groove and layers some great vocal moments over the top. I nearly picked it for my buried treasure, but decided to opt for the album’s most energetic track instead. Stupid Love brings rock music back to the ONEUS oeuvre. Those who prefer last year’s “rock version” of debut track Valkyrie will find Stupid Love to be a great compliment. It’s not as in-your-face, but the guitar-led chorus delivers a similarly combative energy.
There have been plenty of standout rock-tinged K-pop songs this year. I don’t think Stupid Love necessarily stands out from the pack, but I like its single-minded, grab-you-by-the-collar force. The verses key up the chorus, pulsing along driving percussion and soft guitar. Then, things get rugged as we move into the propulsive hook. This is Stupid Love’s rightful centerpiece, and probably the best moment on the whole mini album. Sometimes it’s better to narrow your ambition and strip back an arrangement to its most vital ingredients. This chorus isn’t complex or even original, but its guitar-meets-vocals intensity gets the job done with flair.