Battle of the Title Tracks: BEAST’s ‘Breath’ vs. YOUNIQUE UNIT’s ‘Maxstep’ vs. 2PM’s ‘Beautiful’

pexels-moose-photos-1037999As a spin-off to my Battle of the B-sides feature, I’m pleased to announce the arrive of “Battle of the Title Tracks!” In this feature, I’ll be pitting three K-pop title tracks/singles against each other and choosing a winner. These songs will mostly be from pre-2016 since I’ll try to focus on music I haven’t yet written about on the blog.

As always, the competition is all in good fun. Most importantly, I hope you discover (or re-discover) some great songs!

Battle of the Title Tracks: Round One

Beast – Breath (2010)

Breath was one of the very first K-pop songs I was obsessed with, so I’m a little biased here. I’m in love with its introduction – a dramatic heartbeat-like percussion framing rap and vocal ad-libs before the rugged beat drops in. This beat gets me every time, but the song doesn’t solely rely on production. The melodies are sharp and honed throughout. I love the changes in intensity, from the quick phrasing of the verses to the more effusive, theatrical pre-chorus.

Then, the track rips itself open at its climax for a series of stirring power notes that usher us out on a high. It’s the perfect melding of sheer talent and a song that pulls no punches. There isn’t a dull moment, which makes Breath one of Beast’s legendary efforts.

 Hooks 10
 Production 10
 Longevity 10
 Bias 10

Younique Unit – Maxstep (2012)

Maxstep is a mega-collaboration of SM artists working within the SMP style invented and cultivated by the agency. It’s funny… when this was first released I thought it was hopelessly noisy. But, compared to the stuff SM is putting out nowadays it sounds almost quaint.

Melody isn’t the biggest draw of Maxstep. It’s more concerned with puffed-up bravado, endless power notes and stomping dubstep production. But, there’s a sense of silliness that makes its lesser moments more tolerable. It helps that the energy never lets up – even when the instrumental is essentially just farting at us. I love the heavy metal intensity of it all.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

2PM – Beautiful (2012)

If you haven’t checked out 2PM’s extensive Japanese discography, I recommend doing so. This music is often superior to their Korean work and includes quite a few great singles. Beautiful is the first track to be taken from their second J-pop album and was written by agency-head JYP.

While I think the group has stronger singles, Beautiful’s chugging dance beat and soaring melodies go down easy. I appreciate how cohesive the entire track is, shifting intensity but never abandoning its core groove. It’s old-fashioned that way. With that said, I think Beautiful is missing one knockout moment to really push it over the top. Its icy disco strings come close!

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8

My Verdict:

The winning track of this edition is BEAST’s BREATH!

Readers, what do you think? Leave your own ranking in the comments!


10 thoughts on “Battle of the Title Tracks: BEAST’s ‘Breath’ vs. YOUNIQUE UNIT’s ‘Maxstep’ vs. 2PM’s ‘Beautiful’

      • What effect do you see this having? I’m afraid the music quality of sm artists might go down (we were already in a pretty stagnant place) or they might put certain groups on very long hiatuses


        • I just feel like these kind of moves flatten the whole industry. So much K-pop (and K-pop influenced J-pop) sounds the same nowadays anyway. If one mega-company owns everything there’s no space for those quirky, interesting voices to pop up and create new trends.

          Liked by 2 people

    • actually they only have 14% of sms shares so its not like theyre completely usurping the company and throwing out all of the old sm staff…..but still hyb3s disneyfication of the kpop industry is so fucked up

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I had only ever heard Maxstep before out of these three, and while I certainly appreciate the performance and the performers themselves, and I don’t dislike it, overall it’s not really my thing. The other two are great though!! On a 1st listen for each, I think Beautiful might have won for me (stringssss), but songs that do things I’m not necessarily expecting (like Breath) usually take another listen or two to click with me. I love its intensity!

    Two happy adds to my playlists!


  2. I had heard Breath and Maxstep before. Really like the visuals, however, Maxstep is one that I wouldn’t listen to again by choice. I have a soft spot for dubstep and enjoyed the bridge, but that’s it. Breath is nice and that breathing choreo is definitely unique. Beautiful was fine. I didn’t realized they were singing in Japanese until the end. For a second I thought they were sampling I Will Survive.

    Breath for the win.


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