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January B-sides: Newly Released K-pop Tracks to Add to Your Feel-good Playlist, by Karla Garcia

When listening to an album, certain songs hit better than the rest. Tracks like these are textured, memorable and vocally mesmerizing. These songs make it onto our playlists and inspire us to check out more music from an artist. 


Apart from catchy title tracks, polished B-sides are essential in developing a well-rounded album and highlighting a performer’s ability to work across multiple genres. While we all love a rap cypher or ballad, feel-good tracks are essential. These songs are special because they captivate us and make streaming an album worth it. With just one listen, our ears dial in, our hearts sync to the beat and our voices echo eminent lyrics. 


January has brought many new dynamic numbers — these released tracks are groovy, funky and superb. If compared to fashion, the following B-sides are stylish and runway-ready. So whether you’re a hard-core K-pop fan, a casual listener or new to the genre, trust my reviews and add these songs to your feel-good playlist. 


















Released on January 8th, ITZY’s third studio album is unique. It contains individual member songs alongside their collaborative tracks, not to mention pop-rock, bubblegum-pop and R&B influences. 


Winner: “Blossom by LIA 

“Blossom” maintains rhythmic instrumentation and laid-back vibes. LIA’s dulcet voice shines effortlessly. Her voice is accompanied by electronic keys, delicate bell-like sounds and a rich low-tone bass. If you need a song for a late-night car ride, this feel-good B-side is the one.


Runner-up: “Mine” by CHAERYEONG  

This track could have been the winner — if it wasn’t for it being only 2:49 minutes long. Can someone please stop this short song trend? Nevertheless, Miss. Chaeryeong ate this flirty, elegant and multi-layered track up. Her high register makes the lyrics: “Forever mine, already mine” exceptionally charming. 

















On January 15, NMIXX dropped their second EP Fe304: Break. This release contains groovy and trap-inspired numbers. Maintaining their mixx-pop concept, this girl group delivered a versatile and expressive EP. 


Winner: “XOXO

Every section of this song is breathtaking — the synthesizer in the intro, the members’ whispery tone, the 808 bass sound throughout and the harmonic vocal parts in the bridge and outro. In particular, member Lily’s polished tone and belting notes stand out. “XOXO” is the perfect feel-good track to daydream and chill with after a tiring day.


Runner-up: "Passionfruit" 

Girl anthem, club pick, hip-hop gem, this B-side checks off all of the boxes of a trendy record. “Passionfruit” is catchy and fun, yet less complex than “XOXO.” Its repeated electro-keys and beat instrumentals resemble those included in PinkPatheress’ “Boy’s a Liar.” While I appreciate the sample, the song’s melody line is predictable and lacks a surprise element — something that is a must in K-pop.

















Making his solo debut on January 17 with the EP WHU IS ME: COMPLEX, this release is as dynamic as its title. It incorporates funk, pop and alternative rock sounds to highlight Hui’s sophisticated and soprano-like tone. 


Winner: “MELO” feat. Park Hyeon Jin

This is the feel-good B-side to blast while walking around campus or during your shower encore. Its lyrics: “Dancing in Ethiopia,” followed by layered synths and heavy drums, never fail to get me into the groove. The best part of this number is the dreamy bridge and Hui’s high note at 2:12. 


Runner-up: “Hmm Bop” 

Although I am cheating by including the title track, it’s the only other feel-good song on this 4-record EP. “Hmm Bop” is an audio rollercoaster. It’s filled with blues instrumentation, experimental popping sounds and playful vocals. Its funky guitar pattern is similar to that in “Giddy Up” by The Boyz. 


















Released on January 22nd, Sparkling Blue is the first EP by TWS. With their debut this year, the act has brought the traditional boy group sound back into K-pop. Their EP is upbeat, rhythmic and youthful. Sparkling Blue features R&B, EDM and dance-pop tracks with substantial English lyrics, including “unplugged boy,” an English number. 


This song takes first place due to its bright tempo and passionate lyrics. This B-side is cleverly produced. The intro, verse, chorus and bridge flow exceptionally well and repeat just enough to make the song catchy and unified. TWS’ harmonic vocals combined with layered synths make the line “Maybe, I really wanna kick it with you” incredibly heart throbbing. If you’re looking for a feel-good tune to play when pretending to be a main character in a drama, this one’s for you.


Runner-up: “BFF” 

“BFF” gives off boy-next-door vibes and maintains a cheerful sound throughout. Its percussion and keys are witty, clean and delightful. This record solidifies TWS’ vibrant concept and their desire to grow together and create music as idol singers. As much as I love this track, the “We’ll be friends forever” part in the breakdown is slightly cringy and repetitive, making it second best. 

















However, out of all of these January B-sides, the one that takes the crown is “Yes or No by GrooveyRoom ft. HUH YUNJIN and Crush because it has been my favorite feel-good track since its release. Its easy-going percussion, light synth and melodious vocals work perfectly with its lyrics: “Feel yourself and free yourself.” Moreover, the song is nostalgic as the guitar and piano sound from Brown Eyed Girl’s “Love” is sampled. With over 3 million streams on Spotify, “Yes or No” will continue to dominate the charts in South Korea and be my go-to song for this year.


With spring right around the corner, ’tis the season of new beginnings. Don’t be afraid to step out of your listening comfort zone and take on global music. After all, K-pop is unique — its quality production, soothing vocals and zestful aesthetics will not disappoint.


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