Buried Treasure: Kim Jaehwan – Designer

Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.

Of all the post-Wanna One projects, Kim Jaehwan has released my favorite album — hands down. I would have never expected this, since K-pop logic assumes a vocalist like him would have released an entire album full of ballads. That may be true for the title track and album opener, but it turns out that Jaehwan has a funk-loving spark in him just waiting to be explored. Another is the perfect case for why it’s so important to listen to an album all the way through. The first half is nice, if unadventurous, but it’s the last three tracks that really catch fire.

Designer (디자이너) acts as the album’s climax, and would have made for a dynamite single. Jaehwan channels his inner Stevie Wonder here, riding a lethal beat that feels like SHINee’s Good Evening mashed up with Lucas and Jonah Nilsson’s Coffee Break from last year. In other words, it’s incredibly funky in a deliciously retro way. It’s also the rare dance track that makes room for vocals. Jaehwan rattles off a daring power note towards the end of the track, but he’s engaging throughout. His charismatic, brassy tone is made for material like this, and shouldn’t be relegated only to ballads. He’s got the swagger of a real showman — no bad boy posturing needed.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75


8 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: Kim Jaehwan – Designer

  1. I am very happy that I started following your blog, because I may never have listened to this guy.

    The kid has talent. For a debut solo, this is a very solid EP. For this particular song, he successfully carries the whole song, where other groups would have parceled out the parts and dropped in an unnecessary rap.

    (adding off topic – those SM station tracks sometimes whip right past – I mean, holy shit Richard Bona on an funkadelic SM station track. How did I miss this song?)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, I’m very happy that I started this blog because years ago I probably wouldn’t have listened to the album either! I expected ballads, but this is one instance where I was happy to have my expectations shattered.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Ranking K-pop’s Post-Wanna One Debuts | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  3. Pingback: Song Review: Kim Jaehwan – The Time I Need | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  4. Pingback: The Top 10 K-Pop Producers of 2019 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  5. Pingback: The Top 40 K-Pop Album Tracks & B-Sides of 2019 (Part One: 40-21) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  6. Pingback: Song Review: Kim Jaehwan – I Wouldn’t Look For You | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  7. Pingback: Song Review: Kim Jaehwan – Back Then | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.