Soloist Jung Jinwoo rose to fame on the latest season of singing competition K-Pop Star, as the only male contestant in the live shows. He also stuck out as the series’ most current-sounding participant — a singer/composer with enough forward-looking quirk to fit right in with successful artists like Zion. T and Crush. It was a shame that he didn’t make it all the way to the finals, but luckily his official debut has arrived more swiftly than that of the show’s actual winner.
If you followed the series, B Side U sounds exactly as you’d expect it to — a clever mix of hip-hop and soul-influenced pop. Its verses are extremely wordy, performed with a cadence halfway between rap and singing. In this way, Jinwoo seems to be aping the style of his contemporaries, which is probably smart. Luckily, the chorus slows the delivery for a supremely melodic, almost soaring refrain. If what surrounds it feels a bit rambling at times, this hook connects the dots and gives the song a sense of purpose. It’s also a strong showcase for Jinwoo’s charismatic vocals, which had always been such a treat on K-Pop Star (even when they weren’t in the best of condition).
While B Side U is as successful as any track in this sub-genre, it does feel more like a case of potential uncovered than potential realized. As a debut, it effectively introduces Jinwoo’s core style, but in the future I hope (and predict) that we’ll see less generic material from him. He’s bound to get countless comparisons to the artists I already mentioned, but he’s too much of a unique talent to simply rest in someone else’s shadow. B Side U is a great start, and I can’t wait to see him push his music even further.