A K-pop group’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.
However you may feel about aespa’s debut mini album, you can’t deny that it firmly lays out the group’s worldview. It’s a cohesive work, even if some moments are stronger than others. Title track Savage has grown on me a bit, mostly due to its Yoo Youngjin-driven SMisms. With a few small tweaks, I think it could be really fantastic.
For me, nothing on the album is as instantly iconic as Next Level, but Yeppi Yeppi would have made an exciting (and less polarizing) title track. It’s simultaneously more brazen in its experimentalism and more welcoming with its melodies. This is a tricky balance to strike, but in my mind Yeppi is the only song on the album that feels like a bonafide hit.
Produced by Coach & Sendo, the exuberant song sounds like something ITZY may have tackled during their debut year. Its verses pulse along a similar, catwalk-ready thump as aespa attack the track with brash enthusiasm. This quickly moves into a standout chorus. The melody is very catchy, but I’m more smitten with the instrumental running underneath. Its hulking sound recalls that wonderful era when SM flirted with the complextro genre.
Verse two is absolutely bonkers, throwing all sorts of genres into a blender for an arrangement that very nearly swerves off the rails. But that’s where Yeppi’s clean, well-written chorus comes into play. You can afford to experiment with arrangement when your song is anchored by an incredible hook. For me, Savage slightly missed the mark in this regard. It’s thrilling to hear producers challenge existing ideas of pop music, but Yeppi Yeppi doesn’t forget to include the elements that make pop so fun in the first place.