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.
Up front, I love Kei’s ethereal voice and she’s part of the reason that I’m a big Lovelyz fan. However, I’m generally not a fan of ballads and I understand that’s her wheelhouse. When I heard she was getting her own mini-album, I would’ve bet dollars to doughnuts that the title would be exactly like “I Go”. It’s a fine song with parts that are genuinely endearing. I hope it charts well for her. Okay, then, that’s it.
Just kidding. When have I ever left it at that? Umm. It’s not a bad mini-album, per se, but it really doesn’t drift too far from coffee shop music. I had hoped that she would’ve spread her wings a bit more. With regard to her BoA crush, I could’ve easily imagined her tackling something along the lines of BoA’s less spirited releases such as “Make A Secret”, “Only One”, or “The Shadow”. Ramping up, she could’ve tackled something similar to “Hurricane Venus”, “Copy & Paste”, or “Game”. I don’t think she would fit BoA’s high-energy tracks such as “Shout It Out” or “Dakishimeru”.
There is one song from Kei’s new release that stands out for me and may be the only track from this release that I purchase. Specifically, Track 4: “종이달” (Paper Moon). It varies a bit from the others and it has a nice smooth and relaxing jazz vibe. It’s the only other track that I think vies for title track status. My 2p.
Yeah, I’m finding the mini album to be very bland. And Paper Moon’s jazz vibe isn’t for me, either. It’s too bad… she’s my Lovelyz bias and I absolutely adore her voice. I wish Woollim would’ve given her more variety when it comes to material.
We have clearly entered a parallel universe. You two aren’t digging a girl song, and I am the one digging the girl song?
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Yeah, well, I’m finding increasingly more XY chromosomes being infused my daily intake so the world has completely turned 𝕨𝕙𝕒𝕔𝕜𝕒-𝕕𝕠𝕠𝕕𝕝𝕖.
To be honest, it is better than I thought it would be. Whoever is her arranger does a fantastic job at finding songs and arranging them around Kei’s strengths of her bright and charming mixed voice while carefully concealing her weaknesses. To make it simple: She has a small sweet spot, lovely and cute and musical, but small.
This song is a perfect example. Kei’s range is essentially middle C to high C, no developed chest voice, and on occasion forays into her head voice above high C. The verses dip very briefly for one line below middle C into her undeveloped chest voice – its all breathy – and then pop back up into her sweet spot. Then the chorus kicks in. Well, guess what, the chorus is exactly the note range in her sweet spot as the verses. So you aren’t hearing much of a change from verse to chorus and back besides the instrumentals surrounding the vocal, because there isn’t much change in the vocals. Occasional forays higher – eg 2:55, 4:00 is about an E.
(Incidentally, this is what the Goo Hara arrangers didn’t do with her song last week – they kept Hara down below middle C below her range for way too long in the verses.)
As a song and a performance, I actually don’t mind it. It is very refreshing, and light and breezy. It sounds like Taeyeon-lite.
It also isn’t much different from her rendition of “Wildflower”. The arranger moved the whole song up about a sixth into her sweet spot. Then the arranger goes through all sorts of modal changes to move the Big Note into a key that she can belt out and hooooold then quickly reverts back to her key (about 4:00 to 4:15). The original version of the song is about 2 octaves wide, and the boys are all singing just about the same exact Big Note as Kei is singing (C C# or D depending on who), except the boys have all the rest down lower by about a sixth. So Kei’s arranger compressed a two octave song very cleverly into about a one octave song.
It sounds great! The audience loves it! …. Oh but the musician judges knew exactly what was going on.