I’ve been surprised by just how many sound-alike ballads the post-Wanna One K-pop landscape has produced so far, but Kim Jaehwan’s Begin Again (안녕하세요) doesn’t surprise me at all. I never expected that he would debut with anything but a ballad (though his mini album showcases a welcome versatility that should be explored further). As a project group, Wanna One never had many official positions, but I always thought of Jaehwan as their main vocal. Begin Again displays that inarguable talent well, even if the instrumental could use a more ambitious touch.
In some alternate reality, a daring producer would have pitched this track as full-on rock power ballad, complete with the requisite guitar solo. Instead, Begin Again’s instrumental borrows from Korea’s endless supply of OST-style orchestration. This makes sense, as the track was co-composed and arranged by King of Ballads Lim Chang Jung, whose voice is tailor-made for this kind of overwrought (but under-realized) approach.
As expected, Jaehwan is almost as strong an emoter as his senior, wringing all the necessary sentiment from Begin Again’s strategic deployment of power notes. There’s a real doozy towards the song’s climax, where his voice soars for the stratosphere and manages to stick the landing. The song’s bones are sturdy — especially the rousing chorus that feels like a potential lighters-in-the-air moment. All it needs is that robust rock opera sound. Come on, Jaehwan. Throw in some thunderous drums and electric guitar! Begin Again is solid as is, but it could have been a real showstopper.