You all knew I was going to cover Joochan’s special digital single, right? A ballad like this isn’t something I usually get excited about, but now that Golden Child have transformed into an official Bias List… erm… bias, I’m happy to pontificate about anything they give us. Hong Joochan is one of the group’s two main vocals, and wields an evocative tone that feels unique within the newer generation of idols. Voices like his have character and texture, and really help to position a group’s signature sound.
That sound has been in jeopardy lately, as Joochan has been on an extended hiatus recovering from injuries suffered at the end of last year. A Song For Me was originally meant to be released last month, but needed to be pushed back until now. It’s a remake of the 1994 hit 문제아 by Korean duo The Classic, and doesn’t make drastic changes to the original. This is about as simple a structure as you can get. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus. There isn’t even a bridge, which limits the ability for Joochan’s vocals to totally explode.
Rather than copy the breathy, understated style of The Classic, Joochan draws on the richness of his tone to deliver a straightforward — but emotive — performance. His vocals are wrapped in atmospheric synths and moments of subtle distortion that lend the production a dreamlike, nostalgic appeal. If I had to place it within a decade, A Song For Me most strongly recalls the lovelorn synth ballads of the 80’s. I wish it picked up a bit towards the end, but that’s not what this track is selling. This is sentimentality through and through — so gentle and ephemeral that it barely makes itself known at all. This approach can be horribly dull, but A Song For Me pulls it off. Or maybe I’m just horribly biased…