Over the course of his burgeoning career, Jeong Sewoon has alternated between groovy, acoustic guitar-driven pop songs and slower, more emotive ballads. I prefer that his sound stays focused on the former. It’s not that he’s incapable of a good ballad. It’s just that Korea already has its fair share of balladeers – especially this year. But, this being the start of the fall season, it makes perfect sense that Sewoon would launch his new album with the kind of subdued style that Korea eats up.
What should I say about When It Rains (비가 온대 그날처럼), then? K-pop’s put me in this shoulder shrug position all too often lately, with a ballad that sounds much like all the other K-ballads over the years. There’s just not a lot you can do with a song like this, which makes it pretty boring to write about. Production tends to be minimal and the melody is set firmly at “sentimental,” with little room left for invention. When It Rains spawns from the Joombas songwriting group, who have supplied many K-pop hits in the past but often lean towards a generic composition style. That safe approach can be heard here, from the track’s expected, piano-led instrumental to its gently lilting refrain.
Jeong Sewoon has a pleasing tone and timbre, and a performance like this would undoubtedly go over well at any coffee shop. For me, the song is just too muted to leave much of an impression. The chorus is pretty (and even approaches “stirring” at points), but When It Rains never builds toward the kind of knockout climax that might make me stand up and take notice. With so many popular ballads clogging the charts now, it’s hard to see how this comeback will stand out.