As you all know, Kyuhyun has released his solo smash 광화문에서 last week. “광화문에서” is a perfect ballad for the autumn, and received an All Kill on Insitiz (more than once, but here’s the, I believe, last one).
Proving what I already knew: that Kyuhyun’s debut was the best thing to come from SM Entertainment this year.
At the time I’m writing this, he also picked up three music show wins, one on M! Countdown, one on Music Bank, and one on Show! Music Core.
Gaon released their official chart rankings for the week of 11/9-11/15 and, of course Kyuhyun slayed these charts too.
I’m looking forward to see where he ends up next week, since it will show more than 2 days of sales.
While Super Junior generally do get #1 albums due to the general insanity that is the ELF fandom, they’ve only had two songs hit in the top 3- 2009’s “Sorry Sorry” which hit #2, and amazingly 2011’s “Mr. Simple” that was their first and likely last #1 in Korea. It’s pretty safe to say that most of the Korean public sees Super Junior as a joke, and SM artists rarely do well digitally, so it’s astonishing to see how well Kyuhyun’s solo has done, as he is a member of the biggest joke in the nation, and a member of a company that has had one of the biggest downfalls of all time this year.
But when you actually listen to “광화문에서” and the accompanying album, it’s clear to see why the public loves it so much. Kyuhyun’s vocals are nothing to joke about. It’s one of the reasons why he has been my bias since first watching the “Mr. Simple” video three years ago. He has a unique color to his voice that no other singer, from the East or West, has.
Now, trust me, I was not expecting to like the album at all. I hate ballads, and very rarely can I listen to slow-tempo songs because they actually put me to sleep. Yet, 광화문에서 is full of beautiful ballads I could listen to all day.
While most of the songs follow the typical ballad structure, each song features something that sets it apart from the rest.
The title track tells of a feeling of reflection and nostalgia as the speaker returns to a place he ventured to with his lost love. The chorus is extremely catchy, and you can feel the emotion in his voice. While I do find it to be a typical ballad, it’s very well written, and even more compelling than “7 Years of Love.”
The music video looks like something SM actually wanted to invest in. While you can argue Kyuhyun is still in a box, the video is complex enough to be interesting without distracting you too much from his warm vocals or gorgeous looks. Essentially, the video was everything it needed to be.
The second track, “Eternal Sunshine,” is another seasonal-sounding song. It features an interesting composition, and is another song about missing a lover. It’s one of the more up-tempo songs on the album, but it still follows the standard ballad format.
“뒷모습이 참 예뻤구나” is what I like to call the Slow Jamz Version of “Baby Got Back” since the literal translation of the song is “Your Back Looked Pretty”…or if you trust Google Translate:
It’s my second favorite song on the album simply because of the emotion you can feel in Kyuhyun’s vocals. You rarely hear this when he’s singing in Super Junior’s overly autotuned and unfitting-for-Kyuhyun’s-voice songs, and most Super Junior ballads just don’t do this for me. But the tenderness and vulnerability comes across so clearly in this song, especially during the chorus and the “왜” lines.
Something I’m noticing in more K-Pop this year is a heavy 1980s influence, and “이별을 말할 때 (Moment of Farewell)” feels like it has some 80s ballad vibes, especially the subdued electric guitars that can be heard in certain parts of the song.
“사랑이 숨긴 말들 (One Confession)” is probably my least favorite song on the album, since it truly sounds like a typical ballad. I also don’t care much for the production, since the music at time overpowers Kyuhyun’s voice, which is not what I signed up for. Honestly, I’m just happy the whole album doesn’t sound like this – production-wise, and song-wise, since it was what I expected.
“깊은 밤을 날아서 (Flying, Deep in the Night)” is the one “extremely” up-tempo song on the album. It actually reminds me of something I would have heard on Lindsey Buckingham’s Out Of The Cradle album, which made me like it instantly. It’s a nice mixture of rock and folk, and while I don’t think the song fits Kyuhyun’s vocals as much as the rest of the songs on the album, it was definitely a nice, welcome, break from the mid to slow tempo ballads. However, I think it could have been placed in the middle of the album, rather than as the second-to-last song.
The final song “나의 생각, 너의 기억 (My Thoughts, Your Memories)” was composed by Kyuhyun. I honestly don’t see many individuals talking about this, but it’s a really big deal.
- How many artists get to compose on their solo debut (besides wunderkind Jinyoung)?
- It was a nice reminder that Kyuhyun can, in fact, play the piano
- SM artists don’t get to compose very often as it is
- Changmin of TVXQ aka Kyuhyun’s BFF wrote the lyrics
- It’s proof that Kyuhyun can sustain himself as a solo artist, not just a singer
It’s a simple ballad that truly shows off Kyuhyun’s vocal color, and how he can execute anything and make the feelings truly believable.
Overall this is an outstanding effort by Kyuhyun, and I truly do believe that anybody who enjoys music and has an extra $6.99 should buy it on iTunes. You don’t need to be fluent in Korean to appreciate the musicality and vocals on this release.
While unlikely, it would be amazing if Kyuhyun could just have a full-time solo career, even if that means we don’t get to listen to Kyuhyun sing silly things like “Nan sarangui seupaideo/난 사랑의 스파이더” or “Jigeumbuteo hairaiteu/지금부터 하이라이트” ever again.
From near death to this, Kyuhyun has truly come a long way and I could never ever be more proud of him and what he has accomplished.