With University (Computer Science will be the death of me one day) and life generally getting pretty hectic over the past few months, I’ve been a little negligent with the posts on this blog. And because of that, I even forgot to do a write up on my mid year roundup of my favourite b-sides of the year (amongst many other things). And as such, after finally getting some time to do the writeup, I decided to make the list based on tracks released in and before Q3 of the year. This basically means all tracks released before the start of September. And yes I know that Q3 doesn’t actually end until the end of this month but cut me some slack will ya?
So how were the b-sides so far this year? Well they were absolutely fantastic. I’ve compiled a list of 15 incredible tracks all of which would get ratings easily within the 9’s from me with some even reaching or getting super close to that elusive 10 rating. Both boy groups and girl groups have done equally as well in the b-sides department so far but I think in terms of quality, the boy groups have released the stronger collection of tracks.
And in order to make sure the list isn’t dominated by multiple songs from the same group, I’ve made it so that I can only include one song from each group. And don’t fret, I’ve included the songs that would have otherwise made it onto the list down below in its own section. The tracks below also must never have been promoted with a seperate music video but tracks with performance video’s or special clips count. And so with that, let’s go!
Songs Excluded Due To Being From the Same Group
- Seventeen – Heaven’s Cloud
- SHINee – CØDE
- ONF – The Realist
- Dreamcatcher – Whistle
- VERIVERY – Heart Attack
- Hyojin (ONF) – Before Today is Over*
- Yunho (U-Know) – Need You Right Now
- TXT – No Rules / Anti-romantic / Dear Sputnik
- TWICE – Scandal
- The BOYZ – Kingdom Come
- Dreamcatcher – Poison Love
- Astro – All Good/ Waterfall
- Golden Child – Spell/Bottom of The Ocean
- Sunmi – Call / Narcissism
- Everglow – Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
- Cravity – Veni Vidi Vici
* This song was THIS close to making the 15 down below. Such a jam (even though it’s an OST).
ATEEZ – Take Me Home (review)
By harnessing a dark, synth heavy sound, ATEEZ managed to craft a complete knockout in the stunning Take Me Home. With its soaring chorus and majestic melody, the track evolved the groups sound whilst still retaining many of their signature hallmarks. But it’s the stirring, near transcendent saxophone solo at the tracks climax that transforms the track into something legendary.
Brave Girls – Fever
Brave Girls’ Summer mini is one of the years most enjoyable projects, perfectly encapsulating the feeling of K-pop summer in the best while possible ways whilst still making room for a plethora of sounds. Fever is my favourite deep cut off the record so far, recalling the glossy Madonna and Kylie Minogue-esque pop from the 90’s.
BTOB – Finale (Show And Prove)
The best song to spawn from the underwhelming ‘KINGDOM: Legendary War’, BTOB’s Finale (Show and Prove) took everything great about the group and condensed it into four minutes of magnificent song craft. From the dramatic string and guitar backdrop to the absolutely gorgeous ascending chorus, almost every moment of Finale is bound to give you chills. This is peak BTOB and I couldn’t be happier.
Dreamcatcher – Wind Blows
Distortion is a double edge sword. It can either sink a track completely or elevate it to greater heights than ever thought. And the distortion in Dreamcatcher’s Wind Blows gives Dreamcatcher’s already potent discography another unique, stunner. The post chorus breakdown isn’t for everyone but that breathy pre-chorus into driving hook is what dreams are made of.
DRIPPIN – Reach Out Your Hands
A song of two extremes, Reach Out Your Hands manages to bring together heavy funk laced verses with the kind of soaring, melodic chorus that comes around very rarely. It’s an unexpected and unlikely combination but one that works wonders, acting both as a playground for the young groups charisma and a showcase for one of the years most gorgeous centrepieces. This is as perfect as modern pop music can get.
fromis_9 – Airplane Mode
fromis_9 have always been conveyers of consistently great (let’s ignore FUN! shall we?) pop music that while instantly gripping, always have something up their sleeve. And Airplane Mode is yet another example of that. At first it seemingly feels like another solid girl group b-side but when the tempo picks up during the bridge, the track transcends into something special.
Golden Child – Fanfare
A relentless dance track which stole the show on release, Fanfare is a nonstop barrage of hooks. This is a track that starts at a 100 and keeps at that, ultimately shattering its own limits with a soaring high note and majestic brassy bridge. This is the kind of over the top, festive dance track I froth over.
Lucy – Stove (review)
Though I’ll always veer towards dance tracks over ballads, there are just some songs too beautiful to ignore. And Lucy’s majestic Stove is one of those. At 6 minutes long, it’s a textbook example on how to evolve your song, opening with nothing more than the sound of a fireplace and light piano before exploding into a soaring, goosebump inducing, chorused climax which never fails to make my jaw drop.
OH MY GIRL – My Doll
OH MY GIRL have this innate ability to transform tracks that I would usually gloss over into complete standouts. And the dreamy, vocoder assisted My Doll is one of those. This is a standout mid-tempo, utilising the groups very strong assortment of vocal tones and latching them onto a soft, percussion led instrumental and standout hook. But the star of the show is that distorted post-chorus, which elevates My Doll into something truly unique.
OMEGA X – Younger
A track that feels like the younger brother to BTS’ 2019 hit Mikrokosmos, Younger is one of the years best feel good songs, harnessing a pulsing percussion and light, synth laden instrumental that just hits you right in the feels, proving a dreamy yet nostalgic soundscape which opens right up for the soaring, melodic chorus at the tracks center. It’s the polar opposite of its title track and the all the more better for it.
ONF – My Genesis (Übermensch)
A mishmash of Jazz, Rock and power pop, My Genesis (Übermensch) is one of the years most experimentally successful tracks, moving from one disparate element to another without ever feeling disjointed or messy. It’s an incredibly charming track, powered almost solely by the boys personalities and that rambunctious two part hook that only gets better the more the track plays. Choosing between this and The Realist was incredibly painful but I think I like this just a *little* bit more.
Seventeen – Anyone
Another track that I could easily switch with another equally as impressive song by the same artist, both Seventeen’s Anyone and Heaven’s Cloud deserve a mention. And while I have more listens on Heavens Cloud, I think I appreciate Anyone more. The dark, brooding percussion and guitar laced instrumental is incredibly compelling and this added texture really accentuates the largely instrumental led hook to be something much more interesting. This is how you do a moody dance track.
SHINee – I Really Want You (review)
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I Really Want You is SHINee going full, Michael Jackson inspired funk and absolutely nailing the sound. This is one of the years most buoyant tracks, carried by some instantly invigorating instrumentation and some of the most charismatic vocal performances of the year. The two part chorus hits like a truck every time and that call and response bridge is just sensational. You just cannot sit still with this on.
STAYC – Love Fool
A hazy, guitar laced pop song, Love Fool is the kind of mid-tempo track that we just don’t see anymore from modern girl groups. It’s a track that can soundtrack almost any occasion, having wonderful variety thanks to the groups incredible collection unique vocal tones. And with something as perfect as the gorgeous, yearning chorus at the tracks core, it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s one of my most played girl group tracks of the year.
THE BOYZ – Prism
While technically a track from a J-pop album, Prism gets a pass considering it’s performed all in Korean. But regardless of the language it’s performed in, Prism is a stunner. It’s one of the years coolest and most sleek productions, opening with a stirring electric guitar riff and ascending vocal riff. It’s industrial pulse is absolutely gripping and just when you think it couldn’t get better, Sang Yeon’s glass shattering high note cuts through the air in stunning fashion.