Amidst all of the tropical, synth-soaked dance pop, K-pop’s summer usually offers at least a couple moments of counter-programming. A ballad here, or some moody hip-hop there. Soloist Jeong Sewoon flipped expectations by releasing a very summery sounding single back in January, and has now returned with a jazzy mid-tempo that more strongly recalls wintertime.
I suspect that the subdued 20 Something was selected as Sewoon’s title track for one reason. The song was composed by Jung Donghwan of indie duo MeloMance, who recently scored an enormous digital hit with their single Gift. Sewoon and his agency are no doubt eager to cash in on some of that success, even tagging Donghwan’s name in the youtube video’s title. And for those who have heard Gift, 20 Something’s gentle balladry should sound pretty familiar.
Though Jeong Sewoon is often pitched as an acoustic singer-songwriter, his title tracks so far have been upbeat. 20 Something falls more in line with what I’d expected of his music before debut, and proves to be a good match for his emotive tone. The song barely rises above a hushed energy, but its delicate melody impresses with a sense of restrained drama. It kind of reminds me of something we might have heard on the back end of one of Akdong Musician’s albums. It has a similar looseness to it, playing around with harmony and melodic construction. With that said, the song will not be for everyone. Its quietness is a complete 180 turn from the sensory overload embraced by most mainstream K-pop, which makes it a song suited to specific moods and moments.