Compared to other girl groups, Lovelyz doesn’t often receive much attention for their individual members. Their music favors sentiment and cohesion over big, standout moments. But over the years, Kei has quietly become one of my favorite female vocalists in K-pop. As a singer, she’s the sort who gives 110% — almost to the point of overeager precociousness. She’s the kid who would try out for every part in the school play, while others sit back and sail through on the ease of their vocal tone or timbre. Korea loves a soothing tone. I tend to love a trier.
For her official solo debut, Kei is promoting under her given name, Kim Jiyeon. This is no doubt meant to indicate that she’d prefer her solo music stand apart from her work with Lovelyz. I just wish that Woollim Entertainment had found more interesting material to give her. I Go plays like any other ballad-esque pop track performed by idol singers of Kei’s standing. In fact, it sounds very much like a Lovelyz b-side!
Kei has mentioned her admiration for BoA in the past. I wonder how awesome this solo debut could have been if modeled after BoA’s early work — especially the 2003 hit Atlantis Princess. I mean, Kei’s already covered that track once, and it fit like a glove. I Go paints her vocals in too serious a light, drowning them in string arrangements without building to any melody that sticks. Her voice is as pleasant and bright as always, but it’s wasted on mediocre songwriting that doesn’t seem to have a clear purpose in mind. It’s a missed opportunity, and that’s a shame.