The season of ballads continues to roll on, and it’s the perfect time of year for BTOB’s Lee Changsub to release his debut mini album. As expected, it’s a down tempo affair. But like Infinite’s Sungkyu, he’s gone for a rock-tinged sound that helps differentiate his own music from that of his group’s. Given this approach, I wish Changsub would have chosen a different song to promote. Gone is a solid ballad, but it’s also completely safe. It feels like something BTOB might have put on one of their albums, which is probably why it was chosen to lead this campaign.
Upon hearing the mournful piano that opens the track, you can practically envision the K-drama that might unfold within its familiar melancholic frame. There would probably be rain. Maybe an umbrella just big enough for two, softly dropped to the ground as a couple’s clasped hands slowly untangle and separate. Gone knows exactly what it wants to be, and Changsub’s emotive performance certainly gets it there.
Within his group, Changsub’s vocals are fighting against an abundance of strong singers. It’s nice to hear him take the reins on his own. Gone’s chorus surges with an intensity that allows him to really show off, but its strongest moment is also its softest. An English-language coda, tacked onto the end of each chorus, succinctly encapsulates the song’s tone and makes for a memorable hook. It’s not enough to elevate Gone above similar-sounding tear-jerkers (the soft rock of Way would have made for a stronger title track, in my opinion), but the song’s stark focus makes it one of the season’s stronger ballads.