Underrated K-pop Playlist the Second

All the best B-sides you’ve never heard of, volume 2.

1. UP10TION, Attention: UP10TION is one of those groups whom everyone has heard of, but no one has listened to. “Attention” is a great place to start: its hint of jazz shows off their vocals, and a number of creative variations on previous melodies make the song feel fresh and new all the way through.















2. Dalshabet, Stay With You: This sweet ballad has a certain stylistic flair, kicking off at the beginning with an extravagant piano flourish and soon introducing formal, almost militaristic percussion that lends the song a sense of grandeur.














3. Solji (EXID), 3%: One of EXID’s best B-sides of all time is a Solji solo, and that’s no coincidence. This lovely acoustic ballad features all the dynamic versatility of the group’s main vocalist, as well as poignant composition.












4. LABOUM, Ding Dong: Jazzy jam by girl group LABOUM “Ding Dong” features a great hook that combines a driving guitar riff with an addictive “na-na-na” to create something that’s impossible to get out of your head once it sticks.











5. LOONA Odd Eye Circle, Loonatic: If you came here looking for something weird, “Loonatic” should be your first stop. The group’s predebut unit project Odd Eye Circle generated this bizarre B-side last year, and there’s something enthralling about its viscid, foggy sound and eerie vocals. The song has both a Korean version and an English version.










6. 9MUSES, Hurt Locker: If someone were to mash up f(x)’s “Rum Pum Pum Pum” and Girls Generation’s “Genie,” it would probably sound a bit like this. “Hurt Locker” is an inventive composite of rhythms whose driving instrumental combines with the measured phrasing of the vocal melody to give the song a broad, dramatic feeling.








7. NU’EST, Look: “Look,” with its complex instrumental and stark, alluring melodies, is a stellar example of the outstanding year NU’EST had in 2016. If you like this song, you’re sure to love others on EPs “Q Is” and “Canvas.”






8. Shinhwa, Sniper: K-pop’s longest-active group has been turning out bops since day one, and the comparatively recent “Sniper” from 2015 is one of their grooviest. The beat and sonic effects are insanely heavy, but the whistled melody and buttery vocals have an effect of lightness that turn the song into a jazzy party.




9. Ladies’ Code, Chaconne: This flavorful mid-tempo feels as if it were pulled off the shores of the Mediterranean. The warm textures of a range of acoustic instruments meet cool, melancholy melodies to render a splendid showcase of Ladies’ Code’s vocals.


10. Oh My Girl, Liar Liar: In the midst of all the excitement over OMG’s recent comeback, I can’t help but recommend an old favorite, “Liar Liar.” One of the girls’ cutesiest songs is also one of their sassiest, with vibrant melodies and cheeky shouts of “liar!” all arranged in an elaborately developed structure.


Listen to this playlist on YouTube here.

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