A K-pop act’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
I’m sure readers are as tired of seeing the word “vibe” as I am writing it! However, it’s a very apt descriptor for the moment K-pop finds itself in. Ambitious, maximalist songwriting isn’t yet back in vogue, with many albums stuffed with more subdued sounds. Key is usually immune to this approach, but new album Good & Great feels like his flattest work yet. That’s not to say the songs aren’t solid, but they tend to blend into one consistent… vibe.
But even if this album is my least favorite Key project overall, his charisma and musical acuity guarantee above-average material. Apart from the dull Mirror, Mirror there isn’t a song I dislike here, with the rest of the b-sides running neck-and-neck for “buried treasure” status. Ultimately, I decided to choose Live Without You because its melody appeals to me. I’ll always prize melody over any other element, and there’s a sense of surging drama here that echoes some of Key’s best work. Without going overboard with vocal filters, his performance also has an airiness that adds a nuanced texture to the song’s funk-dance sound.