[This is the third version of this post. Every time I listen to the album, I notice new elements and so add to my notes.]
If I hate sad movies (see previous entry), I have an equal dislike for sad songs. But I guess, if sex sells, sad songs break records. So much so that BBC wrote on how a happy song like Pharrell Williams’, well, Happy, was last year’s mega hit, considered an anomaly in an industry that sees hits out of songs that rip one’s heart.
Now, One Fine Day, the lead track for CNBLUE leader Jung Yonghwa’s first solo album, may conjure visuals of happy, warm moments frolicking under the sun, a nice breeze, balloons and ice cream and maybe a Ferris wheel too. But don’t let it fool you.
It’s a song about heartbreak matched with an utterly sad MV. (But let me just say, Jung Yonghwa looking melancholic and heartbroken is a sight to behold I bet fangirls were dying to hold him in their arms and assure him that he will soon have his one fine day, so I guess the producers knew what they were doing.)
Of the 10 tracks in the album (including the Intro), I wondered why this was his choice as lead (he said in an interview it won by votes among FNC staff). I would have chosen Mileage because of its catchy and refreshing tune so different from the rocker image of JYH, but it’s obviously not a good choice since it’s a collaboration with YDG and not a solo piece.
That said, OFD is a song that slowly creeps into your system and eats you (just like how sadness does) that despite my earlier reservations, I caught myself singing “geu nal geu nal geu nal” after listening to it.
In fact, OFD is representative of the album in the sense that it slowly owns you. It does not come at you like ~ woah! On my first listen, I felt there were more ballads that were not distinguishable from one another. But sometimes, it does take another listen before the music sets in. I especially like 27 Years (collaboration with Peter Malick) and Checkmate (his collaboration with Taiwan-based Singapore singer JJ Lin), which reminds me of classic Canto/Mandopop tunes.
But I still prefer the lighter tunes in the album with my top favorites as Mileage, Energy (collaboration with Verbal Jint) and Good Night Lover.
It’s a feat that JYH was able to gather some of the veteran musicians in the Korean music industry like Yoon Dohyun–who, while may not be necessarily famous among the younger market–bring their own musicality to the album, making it such a wonderful piece of work worthy of a solo debut.
There’s no doubt that JYH is such a talented musician and props to him for choosing to show a different side of his talent that sets him apart from CNBLUE, the band. Like he said, it would have been pointless if he offered more of the same band music in his solo album (and that would have sounded incomplete without the other three).
Yonghwa has one of the most haunting voices among Korean singers and it’s in full display in those high rocking numbers of CNBLUE when he needs to belt out and hit the high notes. In his solo album, it’s all the focus especially in Cruel Memories and Without You, where he gets to display his powerful vocals without having to compete with instruments. And rightly so since this body of work aims to showcase him as a singer-songwriter.
As expected too, watching him perform OFD, Mileage, Cruel Memories, Energy and Checkmate on music shows only proves once more that when Yonghwa composes music, he envisions it being performed live already. Now, that’s not just a musician but a visionary artist.
Without a doubt, Yonghwa carries immense responsibility on his shoulders as the leader of CNBLUE. But it’s an entirely different ballgame going solo. He is practically on his own and whether he succeeds or not entirely depends on him.
With his solo album, I can only hope that people see the musician in him and take him out of the idol box that limits his growth as an artist. He has grown up in his craft and this album showcases his growth not only as a performer but also as a person.
So hopefully… Goodbye, idolhood. Good riddance.
Hello Jung Yonghwa, the prolific and talented musician.
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