With the sudden news of NU’EST’s disbandment, I thought it would be perfect time to look back on their lengthy and incredible career. From their instantly successful debut to the brinks of disbandment and then their Pheonix like revival following the heels of Produce 101 seasons 2, they’ve had one of modern K-pop’s most interesting careers and one full of fantastic singles. And while this list very much reflects my own music tastes, I genuinely consider these 10 tracks to be the very best that these boys had to offer.
Where you at
10. Love Me (2019)
An addictive deep house track that’s firing on all cylinders, Love Me brought back the bouncy upbeat sound the group had tackled before their re invention. And while the airy chorus falls a little short for me, the verses are pure bliss.
9. Not Over You (2012)
A soaring, sugary piece of pop and the groups most melodically rich track, Not Over You fell victim to how similar it was to its peers at the time. But the thing is, these mid-tempo electronic pop tracks are some of my absolute favourite and every time that chorus rolls around, I can’t help but feel incredibly nostalgic.
8. Sleep Talking (2013)
The early to mid 2010’s were rife with incredibly wacky and fun singles and Sleep Talking is one of the best examples of that era. Laced over a snore sample of all things, the track transforms a potentially obnoxious production into a complete highlight, complete with a soaring, melodic chorus.
7. Drive (2020)
Though it’s the Korean version that resides on my playlist, Drive is a treat in any language, offering a more laid back slice of synth driven pop that the boys sell so damn well. Its chorus is just stunning, harnessing an ascending melody line that just keeps going and going.
6. Help Me (2018)
A dramatic final act to NU’EST’s run as 4, Help Me melded together some of K-pop’s more generic leanings with a towering chorus and pulsing production that just grows bigger and bigger as the song goes on. Its claustrophobic soundscape only helps make those moments of release feel even grander.
5. Hello (2013)
NU’EST’s only real promoted ballad and easily one of the most underrated K-pop songs ever, Hello is a track with one hell of a melody, instantly memorable and suitably emotional. It’s reserved but never boring, maintaining the listeners interest through a cyclical production and reuses its central hook to great effect throughout.
4. Dejavu (2018)
Incredibly slick and undeniably cool, Dejavu took the popular deep house trend of its time and coupled it with some absurdly catchy hooks that quickly get under your skin. It’s the most slow burn of all the groups singles and one that has since grown into one of 2018’s most memorable and iconic singles.
3. Good Bye Bye (2014)
Buoyed by that gorgeous multi part chorus at its centre, the melodramatic dance pop of Good Bye Bye is a near perfect example of the trends of its time. Its insistent electro throb is always welcome but when everything comes together for the aforementioned chorus, it’s hard to not get caught up in its dramatic soundscape.
2. Face (2012)
Their foray into the K-pop world and still one of the strongest debuts ever, Face was an instant with fans and the general public alike. And for good reason too. The dynamic dance floor pulse is fantastic as it is, but it’s that one of a kind hook really seals Face as not only one of k-pop’s best debuts, but one of its best songs in general. Just ignore that out of place dubstep break down and we’ve basically got the perfect dance track. It’s one of K-pop’s most iconic songs for a reason.
1. Action (2012)
While most NU’EST tracks pre Produce revival felt more like slaves to current rends, Action was the kind of unique, triumphant, once in a lifetime effort that the group could never quite replicate. When following the heels of a debut as iconic as Face, you need to really knock it out of the park. And Action took everything great about its predecessor and made them even better. Its dramatic orchestral opening heralded a stomping beat and majestic chorus that hit like a tonne of bricks on every repetition. From its over the top production to the melodramatic performance to its incredibly stuffed production, every single moment of Action feels as though it’s operating at a 100.
Stay Up All Night (2019)
Surprisingly, my absolute favourite Nu’est song isn’t a single but rather a restrained b-side from their 2019 album, ‘The Table’. And while it didn’t hit me as instantly as some of my other favourite K-pop tracks of all time, Stay Up All Night has easily gone onto join that list.
The more I look back on 2019, the more I’m in awe of how great that year was (musically) for K-pop. Especially in the B-side department. And itIt’s pretty easy to impress me with an uptempo dance track but for me to really love a mid-tempo, I’ve got to fall head over heels for its melody. And that’s something that Stay Up All Night excels at. It’s a track that strikes the perfect balance between calm and engaging, reserved enough to act as the perfect background track whilst still harbouring a powerful chorus that makes sure you never lose interest.
But it’s the tracks gorgeous production that really steals the show. I adore how the synths are slightly compressed in contrast to the clear vocals, giving the entire package a notable retro theme that it uses expertly to its advantage, crafting an emotionally resonant track that will have you coming back for more.