I want to preface this review by noting that I named Super Junior’s Devil as my top kpop song of 2015. I mention this because I know how fan loyalty and bias can color the work of groups and individuals, especially those from acts as big as SJ. I’m sure I’ll be just as biased with Infinite’s Woohyun releases his solo work next month. But I don’t want anyone to think that I have anything against Super Junior or Yesung in particular when I admit that, from my standpoint, Here I Am is a total bore.
Tracks like this are exactly why I factor in a “bias” score whenever I rate a song. I can appreciate Yesung’s impressive, emotive vocals, and cheer on the fact that he gets a chance to display them outside of his group. I can understand how the song’s gentle r&b swing entices those looking for a familiar, pleasant listen. But, I am not that kind of listener. For me, Here I Am is very passive listening — something to put on in the background while friends are over. It sets a great mood, and does a solid job of wrapping the audience in a wistful vibe. But it fails to fully grab you by the collar and send you hurtling down its storyline.
The layered vocals in the chorus give a lush, warm grandeur that the verses lack, and Yesung does get one great, climactic note in the middle eight, but beyond that, Here I Am feels like a song stuck at a certain level. There aren’t any twists or turns that would elevate it above similar ballads, of which there are many. I could be wrong, but I think this is the first official release from Super Junior’s recently set up sub-label. My fear is that, like SM’s Station platform, the label will become a haven for middle-of-the-road singles like this. Not that I don’t like a good ballad, but it’s got to have a bit more pathos than we see here.