Song Review: Lim Hyunsik (BTOB) – Dear Love

I think I may have been underrating this Lim Hyunsik guy. I never covered his 2017 solo track Swimming, and I kind of want to time travel and give “past me” a slap in the face. BTOB are a group flush with talented vocalists, as well as big personalities. Hyunsik is chief among the group’s talents, with a rich voice and strong composition skills. But, the thing I admire most about his solo work is that he’s imbued it with a sound unique to him.

It would be easy for Hyunsik to release a standard OST ballad, or a carbon copy of a BTOB track. And in some ways, Dear Love draws upon both of these influences. However, the song is given a rock edge that smartly sets it apart from similar fare. It’s also the perfect genre match for his expressive vocals.

Dear Love opens with piano and gathers strength from there. Guitar and percussion soon join the mix, forming a lush soundscape that has a cinematic appeal. At just over five minutes, this is the rare K-pop title track that is given plenty of time to breathe and build, steadily rising toward a satisfying climax of chorused background vocals and stirring ad-libs from Hyunsik himself. Surprisingly, Dear Love’s biggest vocal moment occurs mid-way through, as Hyunsik unleashes an extended power note guaranteed to give you chills. Ultimately, the song’s anthemic heft and shimmering arrangement outdo its actual melody, which feels pretty standard for this style of K-balladry. For me, Infinite’s Between You and Me is still the gold standard for idol rock ballads, but Dear Love is definitely within the same illustrious family.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

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7 thoughts on “Song Review: Lim Hyunsik (BTOB) – Dear Love

    • Yeah, I think I actually under-rated this one, which is funny given the first sentence of this review.
      This feels like a big musical moment that should have great staying power. The whole mini’s solid. I want an album full of ‘Black’ style rockers next!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m also more a fan of upbeat and/or dance music, but I definitely wish more kpop group members who goes solo and have a penchant for ballad songs would come out with something like this, instead of a lot of the lazy, muddled tunes most of them opt for. It probably helps that Hyunsik also has a lot of depth and weight in his voice, while many other kpop main vocalists have a very nasally/thin/airy quality to their voice despite being able to hit really high notes. B1A4’s Sandeul is one capable vocalist who has, for example, a lot of nasally quality; VIXX’s Leo is another capable singer whose voice is very thin, so they don’t really suit heavier ballads like this song.


    • You mean sing a good solid high belt. Among the idols, Yoo Hwe Sung and Kim Jae Hwan come to mind. Hwesung has “Still Loving You” with those six big notes only petering out at the very top about F or F# after a very long line without breathing. Jaehwan sings “Begin Again” better live.
      Ryeowook can belt, but it is usually in a pure head voice (eg Cosmic with Bada).
      Kyuhyun does belt on occasion when he sings his Broadway musical stuff, but uses falsetto for all else.

      Possible the Day6 guys – I dont known their names. Well, there is at least a very nice falsetto in there if not belting – eg “days gone by”.

      Someone will mention Chen. I think he is way too tense up high.

      Among soloists, have you found the marvel that is Gaho yet? Or Jung Seung Hwan “the snowman”?


    • (and also the Korean taste is for lazy muddled tunes. Very long verses, long choruses, long bridge that has no big note at all. Half of Gaon charts is filled with them. The Gaon karaoke chart is all sentimental ballads. It is perplexing to an outsider that the half of the country goes for sentimental pap, but it is what it is.)


      • I agree that the Korean taste doesn’t really vibe with me, and of course Kyuhyun and Ryeowook, as well as Jaehwan (who probably won his spot in Wanna 1 against all odds and all the rigging) are great singers. But, kpop bands in general do tend to favor high note belters who sound clean, sweet and neutral as main vocalists because of the nature of the songs they tend to sing (in fact, most of the main vocalists on kpop groups are probably singing outside of their comfortable and strongest range). And then when they move on from their group and become soloists, a lot of them then settle for that general public friendly muddled tunes. I just think that there are ways to make ballads more interesting, but such is life.

        I haven’t listened to soloists much though, or really the newer kpop groups too; so, I’m going to check out your recommendations. Among the new crops, I really do like ATEEZ’s jongho’s voice though. It has the power and depth that I prefer in singing.


        • Although he is on my radar, I am withholding forming an opinion on ATeez Jongho for a while as for most of the examples on youtube he is singing along to a backing track with the original vocal still present. And it sounds like he is singing along and mimicking that vocal rather than having his own. The ones on youtube without a backing track or vocal tend to go off key. But he is young, just turned 19, just debuted last year, so I will wait a year or three for him to develop.

          Even Max Changmin (TVXQ) who naturally has a higher placed voice used to complain that his throat would hurt with those high notes SM would give him, and the way he hit them unsupported without any training. It is as if kpop favors the Sammy Hagar school of singing rather than the Jimi Jamison school (Survivor, in their prime).


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