In November of last year, I shared with you all some of my favorite songs from K-pop artists that weren’t promoted, the ‘filler’ songs on an album, some of which I thought were better than the title tracks in a post called “The Best Song You May Have Never Heard.” The response was great with commenters leaving lists, and lists, and lists of their favorite underrated and unappreciated songs from a variety of artists. We decided to take all of your suggestions (and some of our own) and turn it into a new bi-monthly series on Seoulbeats called “Side B.”
Why “Side B?” Back in the day, vinyl records ruled the world and its weapon of choice was the 45. These records were what artists used to release their singles and were mostly double sided, having an ‘A-side’ which featured the song that was to be promoted and hopefully become a hit on the radio, and a B-side (aka Side B, flipside) which contained a filler song like an instrumental, acoustic or remixed version, or radio inappropriate song (e.g. a song longer than normal). Eventually, artists put better songs on the flipside and in some cases it became more popular (e.g. Gloria Gaynor‘s “I will Survive” and Beyonce‘s ” Single Ladies”). That’s your music history lesson for the day and welcome to the first edition of Seoulbeats’ Side B.
To be the featured artist for the inaugural post of Side B, I thought that it would have to be someone significant in K-pop history and still relevant today. Thinking about it, looking at the current news in K-pop and our site and one name stood out, Se7en. Fifteen year old Choi Dong-wook signed with YG Entertainment in 1999. After training for four years, he debuted as Se7en and released a full length album titled Just Listen on March 8, 2003. Sales were mediocre at first, but steadily grew and was on the charts at #4 for two months. In the span of a few years, Se7en became the face of YG Entertainment and was at the top of the K-pop world amongst other powerhouse soloists at the time like Rain and BoA. At the end of 2006, Se7en headlined a YG Family tour to the US along with JinuSean, Gummy, and Big Bang to celebrate YG Entertainment’s growth after 10 years in the industry and more importantly to promote himself for his upcoming US debut in 2007.
Unfortunately, the US debut never got off the ground and Se7en was missing-in-action for the next three years. In July of 2010, Se7en made a comeback to K-pop with the mini album Digital Bounce which did well, but wasn’t the big comeback that many expected from Se7en after waiting for his return after three years’ absence. On February 1st of this year, Se7en released New Mini Album and there’s been much debate over the quality of its release.
On Seoulbeats, we had two reviews of his current work: one by Jessie in which gave a fairly positive review of the mini which was a return to mostly ballads and R&B jams, and another by Amy ripping YG for giving Se7en songs that were mediocre and that YG was showing Se7en little love in promotions with hardly any fanfare–and not only for this album, but the last as well. I agree that the songs on the new mini were all good, but it’s true that none really stood out. I was actually surprised that Digital Bounce didn’t do better–its three promoted songs “Better Together,” “Digital Bounce,” and “I’m Going Crazy” were my jams for weeks. I’m a newer K-pop fan and wasn’t around when Se7en ruled the K-pop world, although I knew of his hits songs like “Passion” and “La La La.” I decided to take a deeper look at Se7en to find out why Amy thought the way she did–and there’s no better way to start than at the beginning.
Se7en’s debut album, Just Listen, featured fourteen tracks with the promoted tracks being “와줘” (Come Back to Me), “한번 단 한번” (Once, Just Once) and “Baby I Like You Like That.” But you know, Side B is all about the hidden gems in an album — here’s my picks of the best of the rest.
The sixth track on the album was “아쉬운 이별” (Sorrowful Goodbye) featuring Wheesung — it’s a sexy, smooth R&B groove.
Loved the funky hip hop beats in the ninth track off of the album “Luz Control” (aka Lose Control) featuring Wheesung and Lexy.
I am a complete sucker for a mellow acoustic number, so I’m totally diggin’ the sweet eleventh song off the album “꽃을 들고서” (Holding the Flowers).
Track thirteen changed it up a bit with a mid-tempo sad love song, “더 멀리 떠나요” (Please Go Away).
Last, but not least, is “너이길 바래” (I Hope it’s You) which is a simple and hopeful love plea featuring Se7en’s awesome vocals accompanied by a piano.
I can certainly see where Amy is coming from after listening to Se7en’s debut album. It was chock full of some great songs, most more than mediocre and not unforgettable. Se7en is one of the best there is at live performances with his smooth dance skills and awesome vocals–I’ve never heard him out of breath when singing. Although he is now one of the sunbaes in the K-pop world, Se7en is still relevant (YG, give him better songs and a whole album!) and definitely is worth another listen. Hope you enjoyed discovering some of Se7en’s underrated and unappreciated songs and we’ll be back in two weeks with another artist’s ditties on the flipside.