I have a playlist on my phone called “K-pop for People Who Hate K-pop.” It’s stuffed with the least offensive music I can imagine, designed for use when in mixed company. K-pop’s wilder ambitions aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay. American-sounding, coffeehouse-type tunes that just happen to be performed in Korean tend to become affable background music — just what the streaming generation often looks for. Anyway, most of Heize’s discography lives on this playlist.
This might sound like a dig, and it is if you happen to be a person with my weird taste. But, there’s no denying Heize’s success in both Korea and internationally. Her unique vocal color has sunk its teeth into listeners, catapulting anything she releases to the top of the charts. Combine that with Korea’s love for slow, autumnal tracks and you’ve got a comeback designed for ubiquity. From its title alone, Falling Leaves Are Beautiful (떨어지는 낙엽까지도) clearly lays out its intentions. It’s a song of poetic imagery and longing, drawing upon the changing of seasons for inspiration.
This is all well and good, but Beautiful’s sleepy energy does little to distinguish it from other similarly-paced Heize tracks. The melody has a nice, seesawing appeal, and its subdued nature makes a strong match for Heize’s warm tone. But when it comes down to it, the song feels like a soft breeze, wafting in and out but leaving little in its wake. It’ll make another fine addition to that “sure to please anyone, but unlikely to spawn an awkward conversation” playlist that I only dust off when I have to.