Rainbow is a group that has perpetually lived under the radar. They always seemed like a tragic group, having managed to peak early with “A” and “Mach” but never managing to follow up those hits. Couple that with their reputation as being pretty girls more than pretty singers and a scarcity of promotions, and many held the idea that Rainbow was a C-list group with a C-list discography. That idea is wrong.
Their infrequent promotions may have left them with a smaller discography than you’d expect from a group that’s been active for six years, but Rainbow has a disproportionate number of excellent B-sides. Seriously, their promoted tracks are the worst of their songs, “Mach” and “To Me” being the exceptions. And ringing through that entire excellent discography is the resounding aura of confidence. Rainbow’s title tracks might not have given them a cohesive image, but their B-sides make it abundantly clear these seven ladies know their worth and won’t let anyone sell them short.
Rainbow’s debut, “Gossip Girl”, is rightly known as one of the worst debuts in K-pop. The EP Gossip Girl, on the other hand, is a trove of hidden gems, with “Not Your Girl” as the crowning jewel. It’s a synth club song that was way ahead of its time in 2009. Their vocals are crisp and clear, managing to avoid being drowned under the thudding beat. What makes it amazing is the fabulously fed-up delivery. If you want to know how to give a kiss-off, this is it. Lying, cheating scum have no place in these ladies’ lives, and Rainbow makes that clear. They belong to no one.
So Girls, Rainbows’ second EP is arguably their best work, and definitively has the best title track. Nevertheless, “So Cool” stands out above the rest. It has that late-80s overblown synth sound that just demands drama, and “So Cool” delivers on that. The disdain that drips off of ‘boy’ is tangible, and their proclamations of “because I’m a cool girl” rival Cher Lloyd in terms of a brat factor, and it is glorious.
Rainbow Syndrome marked the septets’ turn from sexy to cute. “In Love” is the clear standout from the album, as unlike most other girl groups, they managed to retain their confidence when faced with love. This is the kind of song that demands skywriters. It just has an amazing feel — the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and their love is making everything shiny. The guitar and synth strings that provide the backing reinforce the cuteness without going full aeygo.
“Kiss Me” is one of the more polarizing choices on this list. The production is a bit tinny, and the autotune on Woori admittedly gets old real quick. Nevertheless, the peppy, sugary music is infectious in its’ almost inebriated sound, and Hyunyoung and Jaekyung sound incredible. This is a three-minute advertisement for going out and flirting with a stranger, just to feel as free as Rainbow sounds.
“Don’t Touch” has a fantastic bassline. It’s funky and intense, driving the whole song forward. Even when inaudible, it’s tangible. The harsher instrumentals are paired with some seventies-esque synth lines that enhance the funk but make the song more feminine without sacrificing power. The result is that the two elements craft a song that does not ask for respect, but demands it. “Don’t Touch” has clean vocals that interweave with the instrumentals, and the harsh kiss-off the ladies deliver is fantastic.
Rounding out the list is “Let’s Dance”, a Europop-inspired wonder of EDM. It layers the production to create a zippy, twinkly track. What really sells “Let’s Dance”, though, is a sense of desperation. Rainbow matches the very crowded instrumental note-for-note in terms of desperation. They don’t want to dance, they need to. Maybe to blow off steam, to forget some stress, or maybe just because the music is in their bloodstream. No matter what, they’re going to dance, and no one is going to stop them.
While their title tracks have a tendency to wander all over, Rainbow’s B-sides establish them over and over as a group with a real sense of self. Even on their cuter songs, Rainbow is still completely sure of themselves and their actions. Even better, their B-sides establish them as group capable of making some damn good music.
Any Rainbow B-sides that you feel need more love, readers? Comment below!