Exactly four years ago, Day6 announced their Every Day6 project. With Every Day6, the band resolved to release a single and an accompanying b-side during every month of 2017. That’s 12 MVs and 2-full-length albums over the span of a single year — a breakneck promotional speed unmatched by any other K-rock band or K-pop group (except perhaps NCT, but that’s not a fair comparison due to the megagroup’s subunit configuration).
With so many songs to write and so many MVs to film, Day6’s 2017 was a whirlwind year. More impressive than the sheer quantity of content, though, was the consistent quality. Day6 took full advantage of these 12 release opportunities, ultimately exploring a spectrum of musical genres and dabbling with different MV formats. Just compare the hard-edged electronic rock of “I Wait” to the blissful harmonies of “Hi Hello.” And the b-sides in Moonrise and Sunrise, the two albums generated by Every Day6, are every bit as fantastic as the title tracks.
Today, four years after Day6 announced the project that would propel them to new heights, we’re taking a closer look at the b-sides that sometimes get overlooked in favor of the band’s sterling title tracks.
Although Every Day6 marks Day6’s artistic breakthrough — the year when they transformed from a promising band into one of the most consistent and exciting acts in the Korean music scene — the band’s prior work still harbors countless treasures.
Their 2016 b-side “Blood,” from album Daydream, is one such treasure. “Blood” contrasts an upbeat sound with very violent lyrics — this dichotomy infuses the song with a fascinating complexity. Even as Day6 bounce along a jaunty groove, with plenty of rhythmic falsetto and cheery “dum dum doo” adlibs, their lyrics belie a deeper sadness and fear:
If there’s at least one sentence off
Your nagging starts
The words and breathing go rough
Why don’t I hate this moment?
I don’t know (I don’t know) baby
You gotta see blood, girl
This type of juxtaposition is one of Day6’s specialties — for example, their debut track “Congratulations” infuses breakup balladry with tongue-in-cheek irony, and “All Alone,” a song about loneliness, relies on group harmonies.
But sometimes, Day6 is more straightforward with their music. We see this with “Be Lazy,” one of Day6’s most delightfully unexpected b-sides. Straight off the bat, “Be Lazy” bursts with playfulness, thanks to its funky bass guitar loop. The ebullient chorus is a stunner, and by the time that catchy postchorus repetition of “be lazy, be lazy” sweeps in, it’s hard to resist the impulse to smile. Not to mention, the lyrics are infinitely quotable:
Heaven is right here, right now
So why go outside?
Stay safe under the blanket
Today, be lazy, ooh
“Be Lazy” displays Day6’s mastery of fun, loose rock. Arguably, though, the band’s true forte lies in heartrending ballads. Enter “I Need Somebody”: the clearest distillation of Day6’s rock-and-heartbreak leanings. Like “Be Lazy,” this b-side was released as part of Day6’s 2017 blitz. Unlike “Be Lazy,” though, “I Need Somebody” slams in with an unbridled tidal wave of sadness.
The pensive piano of the first verse creates an immediately arresting soundscape — so much empty space, so much stark desolation. “I Need Somebody” slowly builds: it starts with stripped-down piano, then transforms into an acoustic ballad, then finally unleashes the electric guitar and pulsing drums. (Special shoutout to Dowoon, whose drumming perfectly captures the ever-shifting spirit of “I Need Somebody.”)
Along the way, Day6 incorporate some truly fascinating musical moments, like a short whistled pause and the rhythmic, snowballing bridge. Never does “I Need Somebody” sound like a boring, mushy piano-and-strings ballad. It’s this incredible sense of movement and change that makes “I Need Somebody” so compelling.
Lyrically, “I Need Somebody” fits in well with Day6’s emotionally charged songs like “I Loved You” and “How Can I Say.” The chorus in particular stuns: “Why am I alone? / Among all the people surrounding me.” Day6 have taken the painfulness of isolation, the desperate need for attention and affection, the suffocating feeling of never being fully understood, and condensed them all into a three-minute song.
After wrapping up their Every Day6 project, Day6 would go on to further explore the emotions of loss and heartbreak in 2018 with “Somehow,” a b-side from Shoot Me: Youth Pt. 2. This song is one of Day6’s earliest experiments with harsher electronic sounds, opening with high-pitched EDM synths then switching to more familiar rock instrumentation.
The most fascinating element of “Somehow” is the way it utilizes Day6’s voices. Of the band’s five members, four regularly sing — a surprising fact, since most bands only have one or two vocalists. (Dowoon tends to stay silent and let his drumming speak for itself. But on rare occasions, his voice can be heard in Day6’s tracks — see “365247,” a b-side from The Book of Us: Entropy.)
The four vocalists each tackle the chorus of “Somehow” with their own vocal styles/timbres, resulting in surprisingly different takes on the same melody. Sungjin injects his singing with grit and roughness, which lends his lines a classic rock sound. Later, Wonpil, the most nasal Day6 vocalist, brings a piercing brightness to “Somehow.” Then Jae’s hoarser, breathier voice and YoungK’s deeper style each offer new interpretations of the chorus. “Somehow” impresses with its diversity of tones and voices.
As Day6 further developed their artistry in 2019, they began straying beyond the tragic melodic rock that they’ve built their reputation on. Their album The Book of Us: Entropy is perhaps their most electronics-infused release yet, consisting of full-bodied dance beats and blistering electric guitar riffs and reggae rhythms.
Amid all these diverse genres, b-side “Emergency” stands out for its off-the-rails wackiness. From its frenetic instrumental to its rambunctious rhythm, “Emergency” is a case study in weird brilliance. The chants of “breathe in and out and in and out” and sliding siren-like synths only add to the cheesiness of “Emergency.”
The lyrics, too, are as incomprehensible as they are hilarious: “Even when seeing fried chicken, I’m still indifferent,” Sungjin sings at one point. And Day6 amps up the crazy factor even more with a concert VCR video. For a band so well-versed in the finer points of heartbroken soft rock, Day6 is surprisingly talented at this particular brand of joyous bedlam.
So there you have it: Day6’s wide-ranging collection of b-sides, spanning from striking ballads to playful uptempos and everything in between.
Back on December 29th, 2016, Day6’s promise to complete Every Day6 seemed ambitious and even unfulfillable. But in the months that followed, they managed to delight and surprise with each new release. Today, four years after that very first announcement, Day6 has amassed a sprawling discography that bursts with versatility and idiosyncrasy.
And now, I’ll leave you with a thought that’s kept me up many a night: since Day6 released an MV every month, why not call their 2017 project “Every Month6” instead?
(Images via JYP Entertainment. Lyrics via Color Coded Lyrics, Lyrics K-pop, and Genius.)