Last week, I listed my 20 favorite songs of the year so far. Technically, all of them were singles/title tracks complete with music videos. But sometimes, the best songs aren’t title tracks. I’ve found that there are always hidden gems on the rest of the album.
In the past, I always wondered why an artist (particularly in K-pop) would choose Song A as their title track when Song B on the album was much better. Eventually I’d realize that title tracks usually are chosen for business reasons. A B-side track may be the better song, but would it sell?
Anyway, the first half of 2020 had plenty of great B-side and non-album tracks. So if you need a couple more recommendations (and a breather from all the TikTok-popular songs that play incessantly everywhere), here’s 20 songs to check out!
20. “Rose,” DKB from the album “Love”
DKB has had a great debut year so far and “Rose” from their second release shows yet another side of the talented rookies. The rap and vocals blend together in an interesting dynamic
19. “Break Your Rules,” The Boyz from the album “Reveal”
The Boyz gets a little fun and funky with “Break Your Rules.” It’s a lighter and fluffier song compared to the title track from this album and that makes it a nice contrast.
18. “Lights On,” ASTRO from the album “Gateway”
Their title track “Knock” is my favorite track from their “Gateway” album. But “Lights On” is definitely a close 2nd. Again, ASTRO’s taken great leaps forward with their music and “Lights On” is a great example of it. Member JinJin wrote and composed the song.
17. “Come to Light,” D.COY from the album “Color Magic
Debut title track “Color Magic” is a great introduction for rookie band D.COY. But I love “Come to Light” even more. It’s an emotional, mid-tempo rock ballad. And it definitely showcases the band’s great potential.
16. “You Can’t Hurry Love,” TOO from the album “Reason for Being: 仁 (Benevolence)”
Rookie group TOO had a strong debut with their title track “Magnolia.” But this track really took me by surprise. It is an unexpected closing track for their debut album. A sort of big band, retro song, it’s a very different sound and vibe from the rest of the album. And it’s completely in English too! Just a really fun, happy song. I wonder if they composed it themselves.
Kidding aside, I really was surprised when I first listened to the album. The title didn’t immediately register to me when I was looking at the tracklist. And as the last track of the album, I certainly didn’t expect any curveballs. But imagine my double and triple takes as the song played for the first time. I had to make sure I wasn’t hearing things! lol But really, it’s an excellent cover of a classic. A real treat. And perhaps a very clever one too.
How can you listen to this track and not immediately like and want to follow TOO?
I’d also recommend another track from their album: “Don’t Fear Now”
15. “Middle of the Night,” MONSTA X from the album “All About Luv
Technically released as a single last December, let’s pretend it’s a B-side track from their first English-language album “All About Luv” which was released this year. It’s a mellow, mid-tempo love song that reminds everyone of MONSTA X’s charismatic versatility. A bonus, it still features vocals from former member Wonho.
14. “Am I The Only One,” SF9 from the album “First Collection”
Not only my favorite song from SF9’s first full album which was released this year, but maybe one of my favorite songs from them, period. Representative of the group’s maturing sound, it is a seductive track that features the group’s harmonious vocals
13. “Somebody Like You,” Kim Woo Seok from the album “1st Desire [Greed]”
UP10TION’s Kim Woo Seok released a solid first solo album, anchored by its sexy title track “Red Moon.” But my favorite track is “Somebody Like You,” an almost complete contrast to “Red Moon.” A calmer, more “chill” vibe of a song, yet more innocently seductive.
12. “Back to Me,” NU’EST from the album “The Nocturne”
My favorite track from NU’EST’s latest album is this perfect night drive song “Back to Me.” NU’EST has had a lot of excellent B-side tracks over the years and “Back to Me” is definitely one of them.
11. “인정하기 싫어 (I Hate to Admit),” Bang Chan
10. “Close,” Han
9. “Streetlight,” Changbin featuring Bang Chan
3RACHA are the three creative minds behind most of Stray Kids’ excellent music. And in May, the three of them each released a solo track showcasing their versatility, individual charms and voices.
8. “Waterfall (EUNHO Solo),” UNVS from the album “Soundtracks for the Lost & Broken: Give You Up,”
UNVS is another talented rookie group that debuted earlier this year. On their second release, the B-side track to their excellent title “Give You Up” is this solo from member Eunho. A beautiful, emotional and atmospheric track.
7. “Accident,” WOODZ (Cho Seung Youn) from the album “Equal”
Cho Seung Youn, now going by the stage name WOODZ, has been releasing great solo music the last few years. “Equal” is his first mini album and “Accident” is an excellent track that shows yet another side of the talented artist. Very different from his title track, the funky “Love Me Harder,” “Accident” is a strong and emotional vocal showcase for him.
6. “IF,” ONEWE from the album “One”
ONEWE has proven itself to be one of the most talented bands today. And while they switched it up with their great title track “End of Spring,” “IF” is representative of what they’ve done best. An emotional and resonant pop-rock ballad, “IF” is a must-listen.
5. “After Midnight,” WayV from the album “Awaken the World”
I am very new to NCT and only recently started listening to any of their music. (And that refers to all the different NCT units.) My first introduction to anything NCT this year was WayV who just released their first album, which is great. But my favorite track off it is “After Midnight.” The sensual dance track was an unexpected change of pace for the album for me. And it’s another track to add to the 2020 night drive playlist.
4. “She’s Bad,” Lee Gikwang
One of my favorite artists, Lee Gikwang has released a few songs to the official HIGHLIGHT Soundcloud while serving his mandatory military service. And “She’s Bad” is his latest. The self-composed dance track has an excellent vibe, very much representative of Gikwang’s solo style.
3. “My Star,” SPECTRUM from the album “0325”
This soaring pop ballad is a bittersweet track to listen to after the news of SPECTRUM’s disbandment last week. But it’s a beautiful love letter of a song from a talented group that deserved much more.
2. “Paradise,” Park Jihoon from the album “The W”
While his latest title track “Wings” took me a couple of listens to really enjoy, I immediately loved “Paradise.” Park Jihoon has really done a great job establishing himself as a soloist. And I’ve really enjoyed his music. “Paradise” is another perfect night driving song with softer, mellow verses and an energetic, romantic chorus.
1. “Be The One (English Version),” Beverly
It’s been almost two years since Kamen Rider Build ended. But Beverly Caimen treated fans around the world earlier this year with this unexpected track; an English version of that series’ epic theme song. English versions of songs can always sound clunky and awkward. But not this.
Beverly’s breathtaking voice is definitely not a surprise. But this English version sounds as if it was actually the original. The translated lyrics are on point and very much still embodying the season and the positive, hopeful vibe of the original Japanese version.