MTV has released a list of what they believe are some of the best B-side tracks in the K-Pop genre from 2020.
While title tracks tend to get most of the attention when an album is dropped, oftentimes there are plenty of hidden gems within the album’s other tracks, and they’re definitely worth listening to because you never know what you might discover!
Here are the 23 B-side tracks that MTV believes are unmissable from 2020.
23. “Top Secret” by Weeekly
“Top Secret” is the fourth track on new girl group Weeekly’s second mini-album, We Can, the title track of which is “Zig Zag”. Released on October 13, the album has sold 26.5k copies so far, which is impressive for a new group!
All seven members of the newly minted girl group have serene voices, but Seoun’s sparkling vibrato and Monday’s soft tone are the stars here. Weeekly debuted in June and quickly carved out a space for themselves with their earnest lyrics about youthful passion and growing up.
22. “Smoky” by Joohoney
“Smoky” serves as the fourth track on MONSTA X rapper Joohoney’s most recent mixtape, Psyche, which came out on October 9. The title track on the album is “Psyche”.
On “Smoky,” [Joohoney] describes stumbling through a world obscured by darkness in a slow buildup to an emo-rock chorus that’s perfect for screaming along. ‘I want to go back to my childhood,’ he raps at the end of the second verse, foreshadowing the choir of children who join him for the poignant bridge.
21. “Clover” by A.C.E
“Clover” is the fifth track on A.C.E’s 4th mini-album, HZJM : The Butterfly Phantasy, which came out on September 2. The title track of the album is “Goblin (Favorite Boys)”, and the album has sold about 62.0k copies.
Any of the three B-sides on their EP HJZM: The Butterfly Fantasy are worth highlighting, but “Clover” is perhaps the most unexpected. A.C.E.’s lead singles are usually hard-hitting hype tracks, so the heart-fluttering sweetness of lyrics like ‘I feel like a wave called ‘you’ will hit me’ extends A.C.E.’s ample range.
20. “Open Your Eyes” by IZ*ONE
“Open Your Eyes” is the 12th and final track on IZ*ONE’s highly successful BLOOM*IZ album, which came out on February 17. The title track is “Fiesta”, and the album has sold a remarkable 484.3k copies.
It combines the members’ sugary vocals and a killer chorus with influences of tropical house to achieve a surprising intensity. The title is a fun play on the group’s name (pronounced ‘eyes one’) as well as the formal greeting that the 12 members recite in unison when introducing themselves: ‘Eyes on me! Eyes on us when we become one!’
19. “Like the Hands Held Tight” by SF9
“Like the Hands Held Tight” is the 6th track on SF9’s early-2020 album, First Collection. The album, with the title track “Good Guy”, was released on January 7, and has sold a total of 116.5k copies to date.
Listening to SF9’s “Like the Hands Held Tight” brings to mind images of outlaws and galloping horses, sunsets and bank heists. Acoustic guitar and distorted trumpets accompany the confessions of someone who knows their actions are irredeemable but begs to be loved anyway.
18. “Poppin'” by Baekhyun
“Poppin'” is the 5th track on Baekhyun’s second mini-album, Delight, which was released on May 25. With the title song “Candy”, this album has made 1.02 million sales to date, which is incredible for a solo artist!
It’s immensely satisfying to listen to the warm, brassy timbre of Baekhyun’s voice as it ricochets up and down. The power-vocalist is a pro at conveying the playful sensuality of “Poppin’” and the delicious single “Candy,” both from his second EP Delight.
17. “Love Me Now” by NCT 127
“Love Me Now” is the 9th track on NCT 127’s second full-length studio album, Neo Zone, which came out on March 6 this year. The title track is “Kick It”, and the album has sold 875.8k units to date.
The release of NCT 127’s bombastic “Kick It” was one of 2020’s biggest moments. “Love Me Now” is lighter and sweeter, the sparkling pink-heart emoji to “Kick It”’s black one. The Korean title of the song translates to “Echo” and the lyrics — ‘My heart keeps ringing it, without a pause / This echo that spreads’ — pair with a call and response of ‘I want you to love me now’ in the chorus.
16. “No Good Reason” by EVERGLOW
“No Good Reason” is the 4th and final track on EVERGLOW’s second and most recent mini-album, -77.82X-78.29. Released on September 21 with the title song “LA DI DA”, the album has sold 47.5k copies.
Everglow is known for their badass, bruising singles, but they shine just as brightly on a handful of softer B-sides. “No Good Reason” is comforting and surprisingly emotional. The song’s consistent tempo, structure, and composition reflect the compatibility of the couple described in its lyrics.
15. “Luv U” by (G)I-DLE
“Luv U” is the second track on the group’s third mini-album, I Trust, which came out on April 6. It has the title song “Oh My God”, and has to date sold 152.3k units.
Sandwiched between singles “Oh My God” and “Lion” are the gloomy “Maybe” and the confessional “Luv U.” The percussive tongue clicks and slick production of “Luv U” are particularly compelling, especially when augmented by flirty choreography that walks the line between sexy and sweet.
14. “Domino” by WAYV
“Domino” is the 7th track on WAYV’s first full-length studio album, Awaken the World, which has the title track “Turn Back Time”. Released on June 9, this album has sold around 280.1k copies since then.
Listening to “Domino,” a glistening cut off [WAYV’s] first album Awaken the World, feels like ascending to another plane. After being lulled by the meditative bass and layered vocals, you’re suddenly elevated by the soaring belts and falsettos of Ten, Kun, and XiaoJun. They describe a love that makes their body ache, like the chill of the wind or cold of the rain, until the bitterness seeps inside them and they concede, ‘I can feel it in my bones.’
13. “Wish You Were Here” by SuperM
“Wish You Were Here” is the 4th track on SM Entertainment super-group SuperM’s first full-length studio album, Super One. Released on September 25 with the title song “One (Monster & Infinity)”, the album has sold 504.4k units so far.
SuperM’s first album Super One is chock-full of banging B-sides, from the sexy, euphemistic “Drip” to the tropical “Big Chance.” “Wish You Were Here” is the catchiest of them all, with a bouncy, lilting chorus that you’ll have trouble getting out of your head, as well as lyrics that sound like a postcard you’d write to an ex from a melancholy beach vacation.
12. “Horizon” by ATEEZ
“Horizon” is the 2nd song on ATEEZ’s fourth mini-album, Treasure Epilogue: Action to Answer, which was released on January 6. With the title track “Answer”, this album by the still-young boy group has sold around 176.3k units to date.
[“Horizon”] has an unusual structure — mostly a mix of refrains, pre-, and post-choruses — and is imbued with the kind of expansive emotion and focused intensity that defines Ateez’s nascent career. ‘Somewhere between the sea and the sky / Now you gonna take me there,’ ATEEZ demands before the chorus explodes with all the chaos and distortion of a black hole. The last 50 seconds are especially exhilarating, a climactic resolution to a song that encapsulates why ATEEZ is hailed as a leader of K-pop’s fourth generation.
11. “Intro: Walk the Line” by ENHYPEN
“Intro: Walk the Line” serves as the, of course, first song on ENHYPEN’s Border: Day One, which is their debut mini-album. The album was released on November 30 with the title track “Given-Taken”, and so far this rookie group’s first album has sold an incredible 318.5k units!
Australian member Jake narrates the first chapter of ENHYPEN’s story, describing their new destiny of ‘carving sunrise’ between chants of ‘walk the line.’ That ‘line’ may refer to the horizon, or the liminal space between day and night, a nod to the group’s vampiric concept. The lush, nostalgic production ends in a shimmering siren song that definitely deserves a full track of its own.
10. “Ghosting” by TXT
“Ghosting” is the first track on TXT’s third and most recent mini-album, Minisode1: Blue Hour, released on October 26. The title track is “Blue Hour”, and so far this album has made 450.9k sales!
“Ghosting” begins with a whisper. ‘You disappeared / Like a faint ghost,’ murmur Soobin and Hueningkai, before the song envelops you in a whirlwind of electric guitar, crisp drums, and twinkling synths, as if to drown out all other thoughts. The lyrics detail the tediousness of drifting apart from a friend and watching them move on. As you get ghosted, you become a ghost of yourself, ‘ask[ing] in the empty void / What am I to you?’
9. “Labyrinth” by GFRIEND
“Labyrinth” is the first track on GFRIEND’s eighth mini-album, 回:LABYRINTH, released on February 3 as the first in their 回 trilogy. The title track of the album is “Crossroads”, and it has sold 82.5k units in the year.
Picking between GFRIEND’s fan-favorite B-sides “Labyrinth” and the epic “Here We Are” is no easy task, but the funky thrills of the former make it harder to resist. There are similarities between “Labyrinth” and the group’s 2017 hit and K-pop classic “Fingertip” — a talkative electric guitar, ever-present drums, and layered synths — which is evidence that their sound has matured without losing its identity.
8. “LMM” by Hwasa
“LMM” is the 6th song on MAMAMOO maknae Hwasa’s first mini-album, Maria. Released on June 25 with a title track of the same name, this album has made a total of 66.1k sales, which is really great for a solo female artist!
‘Why are you trying so hard? You’re already beautiful,’ [Hwasa] asks herself on the dancey title track [“Maria”]. That same introspection is present on the solemn ballad “LMM,” which stands for “Lost My Mind.” The lyrics, written by Hwasa, are sparse and deliberate. ‘Do you wanna get some more? / Do you wanna go somewhere?’ she asks wearily, her voice dancing with violins and piano.
7. “Any” by Stray Kids
“Any” is the 4th track on Stray Kids’ In Life album, which is the repackaged edition of their first full-length studio album, Go Live. “Back Door” is the title track of this September 14 release, and it has sold 430.9k copies to date.
The song’s metallic highs are a natural progression of producing trio 3RACHA’s skilled hand in AutoTune and voice effects, while the play on words (the English title sounds like the Korean word for “no”) highlights their aptitude for bilingual lyricism. The song describes a state of chronic indecisiveness and dissatisfaction, but the production makes it clear that Stray Kids know exactly what they want.
6. “Afraid” by DAY6
“Afraid” is the 7th track on DAY6’s sixth mini-album, The Book of Us: The Demon, which has the title track “Zombie”. It was released on May 11 and has sold a total of 81.7k copies since then.
In 2020, pop-rock band Day6 reached into their chests, pulled out their guts, and laid them bare in their music. On “Zombie,” the lead single off their album The Book of Us: The Demon, they describe the daze many of us have found ourselves in this year. On “Afraid,” they struggle to fight off demons and fear reaching out for help, worried their dark thoughts may dim the light of the people they love. ‘I’m so afraid that you’ll become like me,’ they admit. ‘I can’t let go or hold on to you / What should I do?’
5. “UGH!” by BTS
“UGH!” is the 12th track on BTS’s record-breaking fourth full-length album, Map of the Soul: 7, which was released on February 21 with the title track “ON”. “UGH!” is rapped by members RM, J-Hope, and Suga as a partial-group track. The album is the best-selling in the history of South Korea’s music industry, with 4.33 million sales to date.
RM, Suga, and J-Hope growl in repulsion, releasing their disgust at critics who are too swept up in anger to consider the long-term effects of their outbursts. An opening gunshot seems to signal the beginning of a race, but it takes on a new meaning by the end of the track as J-Hope cautions, ‘I can rage, but if there were to be damage done / To others’ lives, I don’t like [it]… Someone’s rage becomes someone’s life.’
4. “Accident” by WOODZ
“Accident” is the 2nd song on WOODZ’s debut mini-album, Equal, which came out on June 29. The title track is “Love Me Harder”, and so far the album from this talented UNIQ member and soloist has sold 148.8k units.
On the self-produced Equal, Woodz’s immense musicality is on glorious display. “Accident” stands out for its pop-tinged take on the kind of nocturnal ruminations and soaring falsetto you’d hear from Dean or The Weeknd. At first, Woodz is forgiving of a former lover, telling them ‘It’s an accident, not your fault,’ but after a stratospheric climax, the blame shifts. ‘It’s not an accident, it’s your fault,’ he croons. ‘You know.’
3. “Like This” by STAYC
“Like This” is the second of two tracks on STAYC’s debut mini-album, Star to a Young Culture. The title track of this November 12 release is “So Bad”, and the girl group has sold 18.7k copies of the album so far.
An innocent intro of tweeting birds drops, without warning, into an addictive combination of driving hi-hats and floating staccato synths. The song feels like it belongs in 2010 in the best way, and the alternating sweetness of Sieun and Isa’s vocals with the deeper tones of rappers J and Sumin are a highlight.
2. “Clockwork” by Taemin
“Clockwork” is the 6th track on Taemin’s third studio album Never Gonna Dance Again on the Act 1 portion. The title track of the album, released on September 7, is “Criminal”, and so far the album has sold 154.0k copies.
The song opens with reflective chords reminiscent of one of the greatest finales in musical theatre, Sondheim’s “Being Alive,” and ends with a similarly emotional release. Taemin wails in frustration as the plodding piano and ticking second hand loom like ever-present spectres of time, marching onward and slowly falling away.
1. “Start Over” by BoA
“Start Over” is the 9th track on BoA’s 10th full-length studio album, Better, released on December 1 as a celebration of her 20th anniversary since her debut. The title track on the album has the same name as the album itself, with 11 tracks total on the album.
BoA’s tangy, raspy-edged timbre is a compelling match for the song’s pleading urgency and breathless declarations of ‘You’re gonna love me, let me start over.’ The emotional and musical range between this track and Better’s breakup B-side “Cut Me Off,” on which she deadpans ‘If we stick together, we’ll get tired / So cut me off / You can do it,’ proves that BoA’s still at the top of her game. As if there was ever any doubt.