Longtime readers of The Bias List will know how stingy I am when it comes to rating songs nine and above. But, there’s plenty of music that qualifies. In fact, I’ve got a playlist of over 600 of them sitting in my iTunes. The vast majority of these are singles or title tracks, but there are many b-sides as well.
As a compliment to my Buried Treasures series, I thought it was time to spotlight some of these undervalued gems. Enter, Best of the B-Sides, where I’ll be sharing four non-title tracks that have connected with me in a big way. Korean, Japanese, Chinese… doesn’t matter. Hopefully you’ll find something you like!
Red Velvet – You Better Know
Year released: 2017
I don’t know why SM Entertainment can’t embrace this kind of straightforward dance music more often. You Better Know is an absolute juggernaut of a song, taking full advantage of Red Velvet’s powerful vocals while offering a galvanizing melody that has stood the sense of time. Few K-pop songs sound this immense. When the album first came out, I chose to write about the (also very good) Zoo, but if I’m being honest this is the b-side I return to most. I mean, just listen to that chorus!
Boyfriend – Soulmate
Year released: 2012
I’m sold on this song from the first few seconds. That chugging electro beat does something to me, and Soulmate only gets better from there. I often complain about wishy-washy, time-filling verses in K-pop, but there is no moment wasted here. I love the sudden stabs of percussion that keep the structure feeling fresh and spontaneous. And although Soulmate’s chorus is relatively simple, it plays almost like an incantation. Just super, super catchy stuff.
Wonder Girls – Candle (ft. Paloalto)
Year released: 2015
Much of Wonder Girls’ epic Reboot album could have fit on this feature, but Candle is my favorite b-side. Its groove recalls the 80’s so perfectly without sounding like a simple pastiche. The breathy vocal – followed by a very memorable rap verse – acts as a one-two punch you won’t soon forget. And then, there’s that chorus! It’s understated but never boring. This song just drips with cool swagger.
Da-iCE – I Got Your Back
Year released: 2016
It’s fun to throw a J-pop b-side into this feature! For those unfamiliar with Da-iCE’s discography, I’d recommend checking it out right away! I Got Your Back is one of my favorite workout songs, mostly because of that mighty beat drop that heralds the chorus. The melody is so well-calibrated here, and I love the swirling synth refrain that echoes the vocal. It’s simple but oh-so-addictive.