A K-pop act’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Though ONF’s new album is reliably solid, I actually find it to be among their weaker efforts. Its breadth of genre is impressive and no song is bad, but several listens have failed to produce what I’d consider a “9+ rated track” (hallowed ground for this blog!). Of all of them, the synthy Arrival comes closest.
I’ve seen this song compared to 2021’s The Realist, and agree that the two play in a similar 80’s-influenced playground. Arrival has a slightly grander scale, but it’s also less focused. It moves from moments of pure bliss (that chorus) to misguided energy changes that kill the momentum (the second verse). Overall, it’s a series of great ideas that could use a more streamlined vision. Song structure is just so important!
Even so, I wanted to feature this as a buried treasure because it’s worth remembering how interesting and idiosyncratic ONF are as a K-pop group. Much of that comes from working with the same small group of producers their entire career, but we can’t discount the members themselves. Songs like Arrival thrive on the character in their voices. There’s no way you’re going to confuse them with any other group, and that’s an enormous strength in this industry.