K-pop’s title tracks might gain most of listeners’ attention, but many album tracks are worth equal spotlight. I call these “buried treasures.”
Beyond this, K-pop’s albums deliver thousands of additional tracks that settle for a more limited audience. It’s these songs that will become a part of my “battle of the b-sides” feature.
In this feature, I’ll be putting on my A&R hat and taking a listen to five randomly-selected K-pop b-sides. I’ll write a mini review for each, including a Bias List rating, and rank them from least to most favorite. The winner will join a special Bias List B-side playlist. Think of it like my own little agency, hand-selecting songs I’d like to pitch to my nonexistent artists!
You can check out all rounds of my Battle of the B-sides here!
Battle of the B-sides: Round Fifty-Five
SHINee – Four Seasons (2008)
Every time SHINee appears on this feature, it seems to be one of their tracks that isn’t among my favorites! That’s sort of a bummer, but even a so-so SHINee track eclipses most of its competition. Four Seasons is standard, late-00’s mid-tempo pop music. These beats were so popular back then! The melody is sturdy if uninteresting, but the song is elevated by the group’s strong performance.
Spectrum – My Star (2020)
Spectrum didn’t have a very long career, but they spun off a few solid singles. My Star is one of those sentimental fan-song type efforts. Funny enough, it feels very much like the SHINee track, updated for a different era. Swaying audience hands are almost built into the recipe, as My Star offers some softly anthemic “oooh, ooooh ooooh” moments to sing along with. Sadly, everything about this is pretty forgettable despite a nice rap verse in the middle.
Kara – 1 + 1 (2013)
We’re entering slightly more sprightly territory with Kara’s 1 + 1. The song has a sugary-sweet appeal, reminiscent of their early Sweetune work. But, this is not a Sweetune track and that’s evident in its threadbare production. On the album, this becomes even more jarring immediately following the bombastic Damaged Lady. 1 + 1 is pleasant enough, but it doesn’t really go anywhere or leave a lasting impression.
UP10TION – Just Like That (2016)
We are definitely feeling the mid-tempos this round, aren’t we? The album this stems from is one of the group’s stronger efforts, but Just Like That isn’t quite a standout. Even so, this is the strongest melody we’ve heard yet in this round. The production remains subdued throughout, but that chill approach actually works in the song’s favor. There’s a slinkiness to the groove that’s quite appealing. At times, it feels very 90’s.
Beast – Hateful Person (2012)
Now here we go! Just when you need Sweetune most, they sweep right in. This is their only collaboration with Beast (now Highlight) and is bolstered by their trademark melodies and vocal layering. It’s not one of their more grandiose moments, but those sparkling synths and propulsive chorus will quickly work their way under your skin. There’s just no beating classic songwriting like this. Plus, Yang Yoseob’s voice sounds fantastic under their care.
Fifth: Spectrum – My Star
Fourth: SHINee – Four Seasons
Third: Kara – 1 + 1
Second: UP10TION – Just Like That
First: Beast – Hateful Person
Congratulations to Beast’s Hateful Person – the fifty-fifth winner of my Battle of the B-sides!
Readers, what do you think? Did you discover any hidden gems? Leave your own ranking in the comments!
Nick, I don’t know if you know but TNX has a new comback trailer MV out call I need U.
Yeah, I saw that. Didn’t do anything for me, unfortunately.
Slightly off-topic but what do you think about TXT’s teaser for “Sugar Rush Ride”?
I hope that this track ends up being funky.
Also I really hope there’s no second verse trap breakdown in this song like almost all of the recent BG upbeat tracks.
I’m encouraged by what sounds like a very unique melody. I wish they’d give us more, though!
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That’s why I’m looking forward to Friday. 🙂
On a side note, what do you think about the album medley? I thought the overall album quality sounds better than last year’s “minisode 2” just from the previews. I’m really looking forward to some of the b-sides.
Sounds a bit subdued, but I have a feeling the full songs will have more punch to them.
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I had literally no idea Sweetune ever collabed with Beast, what a treat to discover this a decade later……thanks Nick! As expected it’s an absolute jam, even random OST tracks like this were benefiting from the raw energy of 2012 Sweetune at the height of their powers.
Also—-Four Seasons happens to be my favorite b-side on the SHINee World album lol. Something about the harmonies, their emotional delivery, and the layered production just hits that sweet spot for me enough to make it a highlight in their early discography.
Sweetune really need their own website with a comprehensive list of production credits. I can’t believe how nonexistent their internet presence is.