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To Younha: “i am listening”

Since my review of Supersonic, i have made it no secret how much i love Younha and her music. Nevertheless, she is pretty underrated in the kpop music scene because it’s called kPOP for a reason. Though i won’t go so far as to call her music indie-style, her music certainly does not merely fall into the ‘pop’ category. You either like it or you don’t.

This album is no exception.

younha_justlisten

‘Just Listen’ is Younha’s latest mini-album and without further delay…

Track List:

1. Just Listen

2. Fireworks

3. The Real Reason We broke Up

4. Spring

5. It’s not that

6. One Fine day

7. Sea Child

Just Listen

Just (no pun intended) like her previous album, Younha makes full use of her introduction song that you can hardly call it an introduction when it stands out that strongly. Like i said, Younha’s music tends to be pretty subjective and this is probably one of them. Featuring ‘Skull’, a reggae-style korean rapper which explains the mix of reggae music influences (to put it easily, it’s pretty much what your hear at the beginning of the song). So the song is carried by the strong percussion beats and piano riff that you hear throughout the song as more layers of music blends in with it such that only thing that really stands out eventually is still the beat you hear at the beginning of the song. Then there is a short ‘pause’ where you hear the piano riff again before Skull comes in reggae-style. The contrast between Younha’s singing style and Skull’s obvious rougher-voice reggae-rap-style is pretty artistic if you ask me and it definitely did it for me. It was pretty surprising to hear Skull take up such a large part of the song in Younha’s song that it becomes closer to a duet than a feature, not that i am complaining. And it definitely didn’t stop Younha from hitting all the right buttons during her parts. Like i said, this is a pretty subjective song and almost experimental in her case. I have to say that when i first heard the beginning, i was a bit skeptical, but those thoughts immediately flew out the window one minute into the song. So i’m not about to convince anyone that they should love this song but i say you give it a shot or two.

Fireworks

…is a much faster tempo pop-rock (and probably more accepted) song. Here, we are back to the electronic-music-style and sounds reminisce of the likes of Supersonic though hardly similar in outcome. The overall musicality is actually pretty simple and doesn’t contain as many layers as it may sound like. It only seems that way because of the abrupt-ness of the song. If you listen carefully, it is nothing as confusing or complex as you might have thought it to be and can be done with just a normal rock band with maybe a little help here and there.

The Real Reason We Broke Up

… is the single of this album and i can see why. It not only works as a kind of part II to ‘We Broke Up Today’ (to me), it is definitely an easier listen. The song starts off with an acoustic ballad feel before the pace quickens and the guitar plucking transits into strumming. In the chorus, instead of the usual drum beats, clapping is use, making is kinda flamingo-ish and really interesting to say the least. This makes the song feeling happier than the lyrics said it should. Either than that, it is a pretty simple but effective song and need i say more of Younha’s vocals? Just to make it more unique, this is a song that doesn’t have a ‘proper’ ending as the song kinda fades out into nothingness leaving a serene after taste.

Spring

A more traditional kpop ballad using piano and strings, this song sets out to be different most obviously by length of song. Frankly speaking, i never really did notice the lengthiness of this song until it was pointed out. Until i really listened, i realised how many variations of build-ups they had that made it easier to listen to the same song for such a long time where the instrumental parts were pretty much stretched out. When it’s Younha doing this outrageous ballad, it just seems to justified, accompanied by a good song arrangement of course. And unless i really paid attention, i hardly noticed how long this song was =X

It’s not that

…is another tradition ballad song. Every Younha album has one of these. Nevertheless, i thought the later part of the song was a bit too oversung for me, making it a tad too shrill for my ears. Sure i know you have a powerful voice (and i love it) but err, i think you literally used the concept of ‘belting out a song’ too overboard there.

One Fine Day

… is a more light-hearted summer song after that a-bit-too-much-for-me previous song. It’s fun, it’s youth and it’s in just the right place on the album, coming in just after the more somber ‘It’s not that’ and just before a stronger song like Sea Child. Yes, it’s like breathing after you’ve held your breath for too long. Younha does this summer-theme song in her rock style and lends her song for the harmonica to shine and i say it packs a nice punch. Ending the song with her rock voice is the perfect last-liner.

Sea Child

… immediately comes off as a very emotional song as the music starts of grand right at the beginning without any build-up. There are times when a song starts with it’s chorus, but in Sea Child, it almost seems like the chorus and verse are practically one thing and there isn’t a clear line between normal segments of a song (i.e verse, pre-chorus, chorus etc). This song seems to be segmented more into flow of emotions. However, what makes it comfortable to listen to with the lack of a ‘proper’ song arrangement is probably the beauty of the melody, layers of instrumentals and the main beat that ties it all together without making the listener feel lost.

After listening to another Younha album, it reinforces my love for her music though the only song i had to close one ear to get over ‘It’s not that’ the rest of the album more than makes up for one-too-much-shrill. Younha has once again proven that she is one of the best female solo artiste in the Korean music industry. Sure, there are many good female singers out there, but no one does/experiment with music like Younha and comes out as successful as this and her previous albums. Not to mention that she is still so young. It’s a pity that people who merely scratch the surface of kpop or jpop rarely discover this jem. Younha’s music poses a sophistication that should be seen in more kpop songs (but sadly do not posses) due to lack of time? effort? talent? More importantly, because she has the musical freedom and is not bound by the rules of idol-dom that she is able to explore different musical options. Though she may still not be fully appreciated by the masses in the near future, it is safe to say that those who do will remain as true fans.

 

On a different note, Younha was chosen to participate in the ‘NOWorkend’ project, collaborating with Producer Philtre the end results is the song ‘Fade’

It’s a really emotional/sad song where the music stands out a bit more than Younha’s vocals (pretty much like a Nell-style song if you know what i mean) but makes use of her vocals perfectly. Or rather, she perfectly portrayed the emotions and feelings of the song. This is a must-listen for fans! Enjoy!

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