Review

Song Review: Woohyun – Hold On Me (ft. Junoflo)

Before enlisting in the military, two out of three members of Infinite have preceded their absence with a solo album. Now that main vocal Woohyun’s back with new material, I can’t help but think he’ll be going on hiatus soon. This makes Hold On Me bittersweet, to say the least.

Woohyun faces stiff competition, but I think I’ve settled on him being my favorite vocalist in K-pop. Not only is his tone rich and his technique powerful, but he has a way of attacking every song he sings. Even during the quieter ballads, he finds a way to imbue each note with a certain pathos. Sometimes it goes over the top into cheeseball territory, but it’s never boring.

With this said, I’ve been disappointed that the vast majority of his solo work has been relegated to ballads and mid-tempos. He excels at these styles, but his work with Infinite reveals a much more galvanizing performer. He can belt it out like nobody’s business, eliciting goosebumps in tandem with instrumentals that match his intensity. So, when I saw that his latest album would be titled “A New Journey,” I hoped that he meant this phrase literally.

It turns out I was in luck, because Hold On Me is a chugging power-pop-meets-Latin-guitar anthem. It may not fully showcase his skills (where’s the obligatory power note, Woohyun?) — and features wholly unnecessary interjections from rapper Junoflo — but as a full package I can’t say that I’m disappointed. Composed by up-and-comers Code 9, Hold On Me bounds out of the gate immediately. Its verses offer instant momentum, driven by brisk phrasing that launches perfectly into the stadium-ready pre-chorus. The actual chorus is less developed, relying almost entirely on a guitar-driven instrumental riff. However, this hook is so potent and simple that Hold On Me gets away with its beat drop formula. A knockout bridge would have sent this soaring into the stratosphere, but I’m more than pleased with the new journey Woohyun delivered. Pair this with 2016’s Everyday and you’ve got a two-track rock concert worth seeking out.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 10
 RATING 9

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9 thoughts on “Song Review: Woohyun – Hold On Me (ft. Junoflo)

  1. I agree with your analysis on Woohyun’s vocals. This song has this strange vestigial reminder of Infinite discography. Maybe it’s just me.

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  2. When it was announced that this would be an upbeat song, I was so, so happy. I was ready for something peppier after so many Woohyun ballads, and this song didn’t disappoint. It’s so breezy, and it perfectly complements this warm weather. That guitar hook is stupidly catchy, too, and I’ve been humming it to myself all day!

    Do you have any buried treasures on this album, Nick? I’m really enjoying each track, but my favorite has to be Just Look at Me. I’m a sucker for anything from Davink!

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  3. Woohyun’s an incredible vocalist, and this song was really good and unexpected! It reminds me a lot of “The Feeling” by Jeong Sewoon in all the best ways. It’s perfect for the season, and l could easily see it being one of the most durable songs of the year in terms of longevity. I agree that it could’ve used a more impactful bridge to really put it on a different level. Though that was an opportunity missed, the album more than makes up for it. I’m really interested to see which track you’ll choose as a Buried Treasure, because I love both “Rain” and “Just Look at Me.” If it were me choosing, I would lean towards the latter, just because the production is incredibly immersive and at nearly 5 minutes long, it’s for sure the most fully-realized song on the album.

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    • I thought of “Feeling” as well! But, I think Hold On Me has a bit more kick to it, and I obviously prefer Woohyun as a vocalist.

      My b-side standout of the moment is Rain, though that could change. I’m not sure yet if I’ll write up a buried treasure for the album, but I could see it happening. I need to give the whole thing a few more listens first.

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  4. It’s a solid pop song, also another one which sounds like it was originally written with a group in mind – the obligatory rap verse, the pitch is more or less A3 to A4 within a typical group range, with very occasional falsetto flourishes that the lead vocal would do. In this case Woohyun backs himself up, which makes it hard to sing live without the backing track. By the time you get to the 2nd chorus and outro, there is not single line of melody he can sing that makes sense without having backup singers or backing track.

    It hangs a lot on the hook, which fortunately is a pretty good hook and arranged nicely with what sounds like a rock guitar in parallel with a classical Spanish guitar for a very nice effect.

    OK let’s talk about the THREE WORD THEN drop thing. Better than ONEWORD drop. It helps that “na na na hold on me” is a 4 count measure, then the drop is first beat in a new measure. (vs say, Seventeen NICE drop drop drop where nice is the first beat in the measure.)

    I hadn’t really delved into the Infinite vocal line much until last year when Kim Sung Kyu was releasing his solos. Woohyun has a nice falsetto to hit D5 E5 and sometimes F5 when he chooses to use it. Unfortunately sometimes he hides it from us, as in this song.

    imho you rated it slightly high, but Infinite is your ultimate bias (full points!), and this is your bias list, so fine with me.

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  5. I feel like I’m biased negatively here because when you say “guitar” and “anthem” I expect at least like 20 more BPM than what we’ve been given here. There’s also Latin guitar, which is never my favorite choice. I feel like I don’t know if I like it yet, since I feel like I judge any even mildly rock-adjacent content in kpop a bit harder initially and then chill out a bit over time. I am glad to see another 9 on this blog though, even if I didn’t immediately connect.

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    • I don’t often give ratings like this, where the “bias” points are the ones to bump a song into the 9+ category. The song definitely has a few issues, but it’s a testament to how much I love Woohyun as a performer that I felt comfortable nudging the overall score up despite a few nit-picks.

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