Lee Hi has always seemed to be stuck in a time loop. I mean this in the best way, as her style (both vocally and production-wise) looks back at the soul and jazz of the past rather than towards the trends of the day. And though this approach will never appeal to me as much as it will to others, there’s no denying that it gives her a unique voice in the fad-obsessed industry of kpop.
Hold My Hand is the second of two title tracks from her “half album” Seoulite (Breathe review here). It’s certainly the more upbeat of the two, with an adorably playful video to compliment the breezy, singalong nature of the song. The entire track is supported by a warm soul beat, adorned with doo-wop vocals and finger snaps. Unlike Breathe, it allows Hi to play a bit more with the melody, adding vocal runs and undulations that propel the song forward and keeps things interesting throughout.
As skilled as Lee Hi is, it’s Hold My Hand‘s arrangement that first caught my attention. There’s something about the placement of the background vocals that really gives the song added heft. Towards the end of the chorus, they add a dense, soaring feel to the melody, similar to the great girl groups of the sixties. This continues into the middle eight, which offers a gorgeous breakdown that effectively builds tension before the climax. It’s these little touches that completely transform what is, in essence, quite a simple pop song and make it perfectly suited to the upcoming spring and summer.