During an artist’s debut or comeback, they promote one or sometimes two songs from their recent release. I find more often than not that there are songs on the album that I enjoy much more than the title song, or songs that I think warrant the same amount of popularity as the promoted track(s). I will highlight a few of my favorite B tracks found in my K-Pop collection. This is by no means a definitive list; it is solely based upon my opinion and the styles of music I tend to gravitate towards.
There is no rhyme or reason as to how I chose these songs. If I enjoy the beat, vocals, instrumentation, etc. then the song is most likely on the list. I also looked at how many plays these songs have on my iTunes. That’s a pretty good indication of if I really like the song.
Album: Dream Girl: Misconceptions of You
When I first heard Spoiler I thought my iTunes somehow messed up the first song. I thought it re-downloaded Sherlock (Clue + Note). I rewinded the song a few times before I decided to keep listening to see if it really was Sherlock. SHINee got me good with that one. I realized after the first 10 seconds that it was indeed a different song. When I first listen to a song, I tend to listen to the beat and the music of the songs as opposed to the lyrics. For K-Pop, that’s really all I listen to since I don’t understand 98% of the lyrics. Anyway, Spoiler has a sick beat. There’s no way around it. There are so many different elements in the song, but they all fit together and don’t take away from the song or overpower the vocals.
Speaking of vocals, all five guys have a dark tone to their voices throughout the song, and especially leading up the chorus. This was the first SHINee album where everyone’s vocals really shined and impressed me. Obviously, Jonghyun and Onew always had great voices, but Key, Taemin, and Minho have all improved tremendously and Spoiler gave fans a hint of what to expect, vocally, on the rest of the album. I already loved the song, but after I found out that Jonghyun wrote it, and that it was a song that introduced the songs on their Misconceptions albums, I fell more in love with Spoiler, which is aptly named.
Album: Dream Girl: Misconceptions of You
Song: Punch Drunk Love
I want to highlight another song from this album. Initially when I started to compile this list, I wanted to stay away from repeating an artist and definitely stay away from choosing more than one song on the same album. But as I went through my K-Pop collection I had to choose Spoiler as well as Punch Drunk Love. They are two songs that I will never skip over in my K-Pop collection. Alright, Punch Drunk Love. Listen to it with headphones. That bass is brilliant. The entire musicality of the song is a blast from the 60s, 70s, and a few elements from every era afterwards.
The instruments used and sound of the song was one reason I was initially drawn to Punch Drunk Love. The whole thing was different from the K-Pop songs out at the time (and even now a year and a half later). But the main element that made me fall in love with this song, aside from the super upbeat and funky vibe, was the harmonies of these amazing men. You can hear their wonderfulharmonies throughout the song, but it isn’t until the last 5 or seconds that the music cuts out and all we’re left with are the angelic voices of SHINee. Definitely the best 5 seconds of that song.
Album: Red Light
Keeping it in the SM Town family, my next B track favorite is f(x)’s Dracula. Before I ordered their Red Light album, I listened to all of the songs online to make sure I enjoyed the majority of the album. I’m one of those people who tends to only like a small amount of songs on an album. But Red Light’s songs were all different and enticing in their own way. Dracula was one that stood out to me for a few reasons.
The first reason is the amount of English lyrics in the song. Obviously there are two native English speakers in the group, but I couldn’t help noticing and appreciating how good Luna’s, Victoria’s, and Sulli’s English pronunciation is.
The different tempo changes throughout the song all work really well together. The song starts off with a deep, dark voice and then goes into an uptempo beat. The transitions connect each tempo change perfectly. The leadup to the chorus brilliantly showcases Luna’s and Kyrstal’s voices. And that chorus, so simple, yet so so memorable. The song overall has a catchy beat throughout and an easy chorus to sing along to, and that stays stuck in your head (in a good way). Honestly, how can you go wrong with a song titled Dracula? Well, I’m sure you could, but f(x) certainly did not.
Artist: Zion. T
Album: Red Light
Song: 지구온난화 (Feat. 양동근)
Zion.T. I could leave my explanation for this choice at that. But I will elaborate. Zion.T has a unique voice that I absolutely love. It’s so smooth and has a tone I haven’t heard before. Every song he sings and features on is amazing. I love hearing his voice and 지구온난화 gives fans a different side on Zion.T. The song is heavily influenced by reggae, which is one musical genre that I love. Pair a reggae track with Zion.T’s voice and you win. Hands down win. The song has a chill vibe that will have you swaying and falling into Zion.T’s vocals.
Album: Grown [Vol. 3]
Song: 오늘부터 1일 (First Date)
This song is in the top 5 of my Top 25 Most Played Songs playlist on iTunes. And that is saying something. 오늘부터 1일 (First Date) starts with a piano and Nichkhun’s attractive vocals. The piano is prevalent throughout the song and keeps an upbeat tone as the guys sing of their love. We’re able to hear everyone’s vocals throughout song, along with Taecyeon’s rap. The piano is paired with horns as the song gets to the chorus, which adds another layer and more texture to the sound of the song. It’s a fun and cute song that fits with any season and always makes me happy when I listen to it.
Album: Good Luck
Song: We Up
Alright, alright. I’m breaking my own rules with this one. Beast did promote We Up with Good Luck, but I couldn’t overlook this song. For starters, the beat. I mentioned it before and I’m sure you have noticed, but if a song has a solid and catchy beat, I’m already into it. And if Junhyung’s “Give it to me now” in the very beginning doesn’t pull you into the song then his singing definitely will. Whenever I listen to We Up I find myself moving my head and shoulders to the beat.
The chorus, which Dongwoon begins, draws you in with the opening word “tonight” then Yoseob finishes it off with his beautiful vocals. I really can’t explain why I like this song so much. All of the elements are there. The music, the vocals, the beat, the tempo, the overall feeling. I’m not sure what We Up really means, but this song always puts me in a good mood. It’s perfect for blasting in your car with the windows down, not a care in the world.
Artist: Yong Junhyung
Album: Flower EP
My next choice I’m going to Slow it down (pun intended unfortunately). This song is off of Beast’s rapper Yong Junhyung’s debut EP. Slow showcases Junhyung’s delicate singing as well as his attractive rapping. I usually do not enjoy slower songs, but Junhyung’s producing skills clearly pull at my heartstrings. Somehow, he manages to make me listen to the entire song without a thought of skipping over it. And that, my friends, is a great feat. I love the song. The beat, I love the beat and the fact that Junhyung is singing as well as rapping (I love his rapping). It’s a good listen.
Album: Coup D’etat
Song: 너무 좋아 (I Love It) Feat. Zion.T, Boys Noize
Zion. T makes another appearance on my list, this time with Big Bang leader G-Dragon and Boys Noize. 너무 좋아 (I Love It) is off of GD’s most recent album Coup D’etat. The first time I heard this song, I was in awe. I think I replayed it at least 5 times afterwards. The beat, piano, vocals, rapping, production, overall mood, everything are all amazing. All of these elements fit effortlessly into this song to come together and create one of my favorite songs. It’s not only my favorite song on this album, but from out of all of G-Dragon’s solo collections.
And, can we just take a moment to admire the gritty vocal tone of Mr. GD himself? I LOVE IT (the pun is obviously there but not intended, because I’m being sincere). The singing and rapping fit together like missing puzzle pieces and they create a beautiful end product. Zion.T’s vocal quality and tone added to GD’s gritty, raspy vocals creates a beautiful pairing that should be utilized many, many times in the future.
Album: Desire EP
Song: I Got U
If you read my previous article about History, you’ll know that one thing I love and admire about these boys is how well their voices go together. Their harmonies are impressive, and they sound like they have been together for years! I Got U is the leadoff track of their latest EP, Desire. History promoted Psycho, which honestly took more than a few listens to grow on me. But as soon as I heard I Got U, I was hooked. I don’t know if it would have been a better promotional song, but I’m glad I came across it. I Got U is one of the reasons I bought Desire.
History’s always-present harmonies are sprinkled throughout I Got U and, again, that beat. It always draws me in… Always! However, the bass is definitely what holds this all together; it’s strong and prevalent throughout the song. But, I can’t just write about I Got U without mentioning History’s vocal abilities. It seems like this song excels at it all: harmonies, falsettos, strong vocals, soft vocals, sexy vocals, deep vocals, and pretty much EVERYTHING. These guys deserve more recognition!
Album: Can’t Stop EP
Song: Like a Child
To close out this article I leave you with CNBLUE and Like a Child. From the title alone, you know this song is about innocence and the beauty found in the simplest of things. CNBLUE melts my heart with the melody of this song and Yonghwa’s vocals. I actually also put this song on my “Easy Listening K-Pop Edition” playlist. The piano and strings blend perfectly with the drums and guitar and bass. Everything fits so well and the song makes me feel weightless and happy.
I picture CNBLUE performing this song in a lush, green field with a light breeze and the sun shining upon them. The English translated lyrics say:
Like a child, just like heaven, a melody to spread all over the world
Like a child, just like heaven, a melody to make you smile
How can one go wrong with the feeling of being a child again and the glorious elements associated with the belief of Heaven? Like a Child is a song that fits any season and any mood. This song can be played all day every day. If you’re feeling a little down, play Like a Child. If you’re in a great mood, play Like a Child. If you’re getting ready for a job interview, play Like a Child. It’s a mood changer and a mood maker; a beautiful song.
There are so many amazing B tracks out there and this is only a very (very) small portion of them. If you have suggestions of B tracks that I should check out, leave your choices in the comments below! I’m always looking to broaden my K-Pop horizons.