So far, 2016 seems to be the year of the collaborations. This feels like a somewhat odd one, between CNBlue’s frontman Jung Yong-Hwa and Sunwoo Jung Ah, who is primarily known as an in-house songwriter (and occasional singer) with YG Entertainment. I’m not exactly sure what brought these two together, though Yong-Hwa seems to be involving himself in many diverse collaborations of late. Regardless of the reason, the duo released two tracks as part of their new “Empathy Project.” Hello is a more traditional ballad and didn’t leave much of an impression on me, so I thought I’d write about Fireworks instead, which is the more interesting of the two.
The song tackles a less-traveled genre for kpop, a sort of new age, gentle extension of traditional EDM. The results are somewhat mixed. Yong-Hwa and Jung Ah’s voices blend beautifully together, with Jung Ah in particularly delivering a compelling performance. The ethereal melody and production gives the song a stately, if somewhat repetitive vibe. If anything, I feel like the song is content to glide gently over the ground when it could soar if given an extra push. Therein lies my only issue with it. For me, the song stops at “pretty,” and lacks the dynamism to really reward repeated listens. I admire what they were trying to do and I think as a baseline they were successful. I just wish they would have really let loose and shot for the stars. That would have been an apt ambition, given the song’s title. As is, it’s quite pleasant, but not outstanding.