Edited by Yoon
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
In K-pop, most groups choose dance-pop or electronic genres as their title songs. That’s because it can convey a strong impression to the public and show eye-catching performance. Therefore, most of the hit songs of idol groups are dance songs. However, there are times when ballad tracks are released to match the season or to introduce a new charm. Because it can deliver new emotions to the public that’s already so used to flashy performance, it could help the artist create a new image or get rediscovered for its vocal prowess. This article introduces K-pop groups’ albums that used ballads as their title tracks.
Red Velvet – One Of These Nights (2016)
After the full album The Red (2015), Red Velvet dropped the mini-album The Velvet (2016), which mostly consists of ballad songs. Remarkably, Red Velvet pursued a new musical achievement without choosing a similar tactic even after the success of “Ice Cream Cake” and “Dumb Dumb.” It took the motif from the fairytale about the Altair and the Vega, and hitmaker Hwang Chan Hee, who had composed Kim Jong Kook’s “One Man” and Younha’s “Please Take Care of My Boyfriend,” composed and arranged the song. The overall structure of the album is also impressive. “First Time” follows SM’s standard ballad tune, while “Rose Scent Breeze,” sung by Wendy, Seulgi, and Joy, presents stability in vocals and a warm vibe.
BTOB – Missing You (2017)
BTOB, who began to receive great love for the comforting messages in songs like “It’s Okay” and “Way Back Home,” chose an autumn ballad as the title of their second full album. Though it sounds similar to the act’s previous songs, it focuses on the genre itself and pursues stability, improving the overall quality. Real sound instruments harmonize with the comfortable and warm mood expressed by the vocals. Additionally, a part where listeners can sing along is placed in the second half, increasing the immersion. Thanks to this, you can feel the sense of being at the concert. What’s impressive is that the group successfully imprinted its presence only with the melody and voice without a grand worldview that became the basis of the K-pop industry and also saw great success.
SHINee – Selene 6.23 (2013)
It wasn’t awkward to see SHINee singing a ballad song, but it definitely seemed like a strange attempt to choose a ballad song for their 3rd full album, which was a big project. Excluding originality and sophistication that were the main elements of SHINee’s music, the act chose a stable melody. The song flows smoothly from the start to the end. Moreover, the ad-libs pouring out near the end and lyrics written by Jonghyun touch the listeners’ hearts. It is also a song that perfectly suits “The Misconceptions of Us,” the title of the compilation album of the act’s 3rd full album that was produced under the keyword of “misconception.” Their attempt to challenge the ballad genre was great, and the track also contributed to perfecting the album’s overall flow.
2NE1 – MISSING YOU (2013)
It’s the second ballad single of 2NE1, who had already made a hit with the ballad song “Lonely.” The act picked a ballad song as their last single following Falling In Love (2013) and Do You Love Me (2013). At the time of the release, the smash saw a big success as it went so well with the season. As the members showed unrivaled musical color and achievement since their debut, even their ballad song was different. If you listen to the verse and chorus separately, the presence of each part is so vivid that they sound like they’re from two different songs. Some of the progression seems a bit forced, but the members’ impressive vocal prowess covers the weakness.
BTS – Life Goes On (2020)
After the unprecedented success of “Dynamite,” the global band dropped this song that conveys similar comfort. They calmly sing “One day, the world stopped” and deliver comfort. And that comfort soothed the minds of ARMY (BTS fandom), as well as people around the world. The fact that a touching song sung in Korean ranked first on the Billboard chart holds great meaning. BTS has been very focused on delivering a clear message since their debut. And that effort to tell stories with their own languages was why the act gained explosive worldwide popularity. BTS, who had showcased a grand worldview or profound language, chose a message of consolation appropriate to the pandemic outbreak. This means that BTS’ identity continues on, although the style of music they present may have changed.
Editor Yoon: I love music, especially K-POP, and I dream of becoming an A&R person, lyricist, artist, etc. I will cover various articles, including song reviews, artist reviews, and K-pop market analysis.
Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.