I wouldn’t normally review a special live version of a b-side, but I wanted to post something today about Sungkyu’s enlistment. Infinite have been my bias group almost as long as I’ve been into k-pop, and I’ve often considered Sungkyu my favorite k-pop personality. The fact that he’s successfully delivered solo work that differs from (but compliments) his group’s discography puts him on a very short list of idol singers. Being a k-pop fan, I’ve seen my fair share of enlistments, but Infinite were always going to be the Big One.
It’s been a rough year for Inspirits. After the struggle of 2017’s contract negotiations, which resulted in a long drought of activity (as well as member Hoya’s departure from the group), I foolishly assumed that 2018 would be an Infinite-filled victory lap before the members started to enlist in the winter. After all, fans have been more than patient — and the group is at a point where they need to reassert their brand after being away so long. But Woollim Entertainment pulled the rug out from under us yet again. Just around the time I expected an album repackage announcement, we instead received the news that Sungkyu would be enlisting — without fanfare, and pretty much immediately. And with him in the military, Infinite’s future is again in flux. Will the group promote without him? Possibly, though I’ve lost faith in Woollim when it comes to the handling of Infinite’s music career.
This isn’t a criticism of Sungkyu’s approach. I admire the fact that he wanted to do this quietly, and I’m sure it was a difficult decision all around. At his age, it’s not like he had much choice in the matter. Unfortunately, conscription calls with greater immediacy when you’re pushing thirty. But Woollim… come on. You couldn’t have thrown together a repackage in March or April? Or even an unpromoted special album to soften the blow? It’s not like we didn’t see this coming.
But on to Don’t Move (머물러줘), which was one of the highlights from Sungkyu’s February album. The live version is nearly the same as the original, replacing the song’s climactic saxophone solo with electric guitar. It’s a slow-burn track, spotlighting Sungkyu’s inimitable vocal nuance and power. Opening with a shimmering mix of delicate synths and orchestral riffs, Don’t Move grows more dramatic as additional layers are brought in for the ethereal chorus. It all culminates in a glorious power note that brings us into that aforementioned sax/guitar solo. It’s quintessential Sungkyu, and an excellent example of why his voice will be so greatly missed over these next two years.