When deciding which kpop tracks to skip when writing my reviews, the ones that usually pass by without any commentary are the ballads. There’s just not much to say about most of them. But on this uncharacteristically slow Monday, the only major releases to choose from are ballads. Of the choices, Baek Yerin is likely the biggest name, given her work with JYP’s 15& and her giant hit Across The Universe from last year. Bye Bye My Blue is her latest single, and keeps the tempo predictably low.
But really, this is where the “bias” portion of my ratings system comes heavily into play. As much as I can appreciate Yerin’s emotive vocals and the gentle rainstorm that is Blue‘s spare, piano-driven jazz undertone, this was never going to be a song that was designed to appeal to my sensibilities. So, it makes more sense to compare Blue with other tracks of its nature. But even by this method, I feel like the track is a bit of a letdown. Its lilting melody doesn’t go anywhere unexpected, nor does it feature a particularly ear-catching refrain. Instead, the entire song plays as pleasant background music. Its most successful aspects are actually the production touches — particularly the synth chords that overtake the second half. There’s a palpable sense of emptiness provided by the lack of vocal intrusion. This gives a ghostly, unfinished quality to the track that really stands out.
I wish that was enough to warrant repeated listens, but it’s hard to feel truly involved when the singer feels almost second fiddle to the instrumental. I could see Blue being a nice choice for a quiet evening, but it’s a song that exists in the background, not providing enough heft of any sort to demand attention.