B-Side Mondays: Block B

For the most part, K-pop album B-sides are known to suck.  I don’t bother with B-sides for that reason, unless I really like the group that’s putting out the music.  So to make it easier for people who are interested in B-sides but couldn’t be bothered to listen through albums, I’ll try and help you out.

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Here we have Block B, a seven-member boy group under the entertainment company Seven Seasons.  Debuting in 2011 with the laughable and cringeworthy “Freeze” (which even the members have seemingly erased from their own memories), Block B has also had their fair share of amazing and catchy title tracks.  I doubt we’ll get another “NalinA” or “Nilili Mambo” from them, or if we’ll even get another group comeback from them at all, but my time as a BBC has definitely been the wildest experience in my ten years of listening to K-pop.

Without further ado, here are my top five B-sides from Block B:

5. A Few Years Later (2016)

 

Coming in at #5 is “A Few Years Later” from Block B’s “Blooming Period” EP.  This song is slow, which seems to contradict Block B’s fun and wild image.  Fortunately, the boys pull off this style really well, and member P.O.’s vocals (at about 2:53) are truly the best part of this song.  Can you believe that Stardom, Block B’s original agency, didn’t want P.O. to sing because they thought his low voice matched the role of a rapper better?  This song is perfect for that transition between winter and spring, when you just want something chill to listen to.

4. Be the Light (2013)

 

#4 is “Be the Light” from their “Very Good” EP, their first release under their Seven Seasons label.  The plot and symbolism behind the MV isn’t subtle at all, mirroring what Block B was going through at the time this song was released (contract termination, Stardom being a generally shitty company in general, the members being there to pick each other up and support each other).  Member Taeil’s voice at the bridge of the song are definitely the highlight here, carrying enough emotion to save the song from being another “generic mid-tempo ballad”.  Fun fact, this is also one of the only K-pop songs that has made me cry.

3. LOL (2012)

 

“LOL” from Block B’s “Welcome to the Block” EP is an appropriate intro to a pretty solid album.  The instrumental on “LOL” mostly takes a backseat to allow rappers Zico and Park Kyung to shine.  The only unfortunate thing about this song is that it’s too short and leaves you wanting more.

2. Nice Day (2013)

 

“Nice Day” is #2 on my list, and it definitely does a lot of things right.  The percussion in the background is solid and keeps the beat going, while the raps and the chorus keep the momentum of the song going, even though the pre-chorus drags slightly.  The switch-off in the chorus between members P.O. (who tends to sing in a lower voice) and Taeil (who tends to sing in a higher voice) is something that shouldn’t work in theory, but it works perfectly in this song.  Another highlight is member B-Bomb, who usually doesn’t have much to do in a song besides look good, who managed to surprise me with his falsetto.  Overall, this song puts me in a good mood, and that’s definitely a win in my book.

1. Romantically (2012)

Finally, coming in at #1 is “Romantically” from Block B’s 2012 album “Blockbuster”.  In fact, this entire album is actually really fucking good.  If all boy groups could put out an album like “Blockbuster”, then I would probably stan all of them.  Unfortunately, they don’t.  Unlike a lot of other Block B tracks, Zico doesn’t dominate this one (not saying that Zico dominating is a bad thing).  Taeil’s vocals once again shine here, as he’s allowed to attempt scatting, which fits with the rest of the song.

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Overall, Block B has truly risen from an underdog group to one of the only non-Big 3 groups to chart well on Melon (alongside Beast/Highlight).  Back in 2011, I never thought they’d get to where they are today, but I couldn’ t be happier for them now.  Hopefully we get to have one more album (they haven’t released one since “Blockbuster” in 2012!) before they inevitably part ways, but we’ll have to see.

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