To be honest, the combination of Eric Nam and “winter ballad” doesn’t exactly pique my interest. Nam is one of k-pop’s most amiable personalities, and I’ve often argued that he’s at his best when he’s harnessing that charm to deliver light uptempo pop. Ballads are already at risk of becoming overly sentimental, and coupled with Nam’s boyfriend image it could easily be too much. Luckily, Hold Me (놓지마) never falls too far into the saccharine. It’s a song of limited ambition, and that suits it just fine.
From its opening English-language lines, Hold Me presents itself as a classic pop ballad, much more indebted to Western influences than what we might consider a more typical Korean OST performance. The song never builds to any fiery vocal climax, opting instead to deliver a warm, pleasant melody throughout. This is a smart match for Nam’s breathy vocals, which come across as ingratiating rather than showy.
Hold Me‘s instrumental mostly stays out of the way, as you might expect of a song like this, but I love its constant pulse of percussion. The drums give the track a sense of movement that keeps it from becoming too maudlin, but never in an overly prominent or overbearing way. If there are any shortcomings to be found, they have more to do with the genre itself rather than the execution. A track like Hold Me is not designed to be anything more than pleasant, and I doubt that I’ll even remember its charms this time next year. But for now, as the cold winter months unfold, it feels perfectly comfortable.