The dissolution of B1A4 didn’t seem to send shockwaves through the K-pop industry last year, but it was a personal blow. At their peak, B1A4 were one of my top three bias groups, and offered a specific pop sound that no current act is tackling. Though they may still exist as a trio, the B1A4 style will never be the same. Without their primary composer and leader, Jinyoung, their future feels uncertain. Arriving shortly after member CNU’s military enlistment, this new solo track by main vocal Sandeul is the first B1A4-related comeback since early last year. But as much as I love the guy (and his incredible voice), One Fine Day (날씨좋은날) is a horribly boring ballad.
Clocking in at five and a half minutes, Day is exceedingly long for a K-pop title track. Most promoted material veers closer to the three minute mark, rarely exceeding four. To Day’s credit, the song doesn’t feel as long as it is. It has a strong enough sense of movement to keep it relatively engaging. But, there just aren’t many new tricks you can bring to a ballad of this style.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard stronger ballads from acts like ONEWE and Kim Jaehwan. Sandeul has a stirring voice, capable of elevating anything it touches. But, One Fine Day is nostalgic to a fault. It colors exactly in the lines, incapable of surprise. As the strings swell and wholesome background vocals buoy the song’s second half, Day feels better suited to a 1950’s variety show than our current K-pop climate. You can almost picture the backing singers emerging behind Sandeul, draped in modest evening gowns as the camera pans to an audience of half-asleep senior citizens. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but Day’s overwrought melody isn’t strong enough to hearken back to the classics of its desired era.
I’m just dropping in to say that your writing is so engaging?? Your imagery put into words what I felt about this song — dated and just not interesting
Haha thanks! If only I was able to describe something I liked!
This is my B14A story: about a month ago I was searching for a song your reviewed called Beautiful by a group called Target. I found at first instead a song called Beautiful Target, by B1A4, which is now among my most played downloads of this year. My kids even love it.
Back to this song: it is squarely within the typical structure of Korean ballads, which is to say, very long verses (almost double length in measure count), very full choruses, at least 3 verse-chorus repeats until the bridge hits at about the 4minute mark, then after the bridge a whole full fourth verse and full chorus repeat. So I would say 5:00-5:30 long ballads are about par for the course.
Out of curiosity, what is the ballad you have rated the highest?
It isn’t my bias Kyuhyun Aewol-ri which you have not reviewed yet. 😛
Good question! Looking at straight-up ballads, these four received 9+ ratings from the past few years:
G-Dragon – Untitled, 2014
B1A4 – Until We Meet
EXO – Cosmic Railway
SHINee – Our Page (this has since gone down… I was feelin’ the emotion at the time)
Of those, the G-Dragon track is easily my favorite. But then again, I have a thing for his perfectly imperfect singing voice.
As far as Kyuhyun goes, I did really like his At Gwanghwamun back in the day! I’m not all bad 😉
You do of course realize that your examples aren’t really ballads but mid-tempo songs. Sentimental yes, slower than usual yes, but not really ballads..
Maybe not in the strictest of technical terms, but in the world of idol pop, I think “ballad” is the descriptor most would give them. As far dyed-in-the-wool ballads go… yeah, they’re not usually my preferred style of song.
You are not wrong with this comment.
Another kpop term “revealed to have been” added to the list:
Ballad = anything below 100bpm
Comeback = the newest release, no matter how soon after the previous one
Husky voice = anyone who can sing below middle C
Powerful vocal = anyone who can sing above high C
“Stable” vocal = anyone who can carry a tune live, with or without backing track
“Kpop” = the genre that includes all korean music except the ballad singers and the musicians who actually dominate the charts and karaoke in Korea but one rarely hears about over here (eg Epik High, Busker Busker, Nilo, Paul Kim, Jannabi, etc)
I don’t have a ranking system other than # plays on my ipod as a proxy for how much I must like the song.
So here is my list of (relatively) recent ballad favorites (from artists not named Park Hyo Shin):
KyuHyun – Day we felt the distance
SuJu KRY – Dorothy
Gaho – Stay here
Roy Kim – the Hardest Part
Jung Seung Hwan – the Snowman
Mid tempo bonus selections:
Block B – Be the light
Minseo – Growing up