Brown Eyed Girls’ covers album Re:Vive is largely a down-tempo affair, tackling many old Korean ballads and reinventing them with the girls’ unique performance style. This is an interesting approach, and one that is sure to polarize. Brown Eyed Girls are at their best when pushing boundaries, and nothing about their choice of covers seems to point in that direction.
Abandoned (내가 날 버린 이유) is a odd selection for title track. It takes the girls all the way back to the 90’s, with a remake of the 1995 Jung Jaehyung single. Perhaps this song choice carries more resonance for the Korean public than it does for international audiences. All I hear in the original is a solid, if unspectacular ballad that fits within the constraints of its time. Brown Eyed Girls’ remake converts the track into a more theatrical performance, adding layers of strings and a dramatic, layered vocal arrangement that slowly builds toward a climactic finish. They’ve also bolstered the melody with rap and spoken-word segments, which helps to modernize the song.
As evocative as Abandoned is, it’s the kind of release that demands a unique mood from the listener. Its atmosphere is overwhelming, and requires full engagement to really appreciate. It works best when paired with its striking music video, or perhaps an equally dynamic stage performance. On its own, the song feels like a bit of a curiosity, enjoyable one or two times through but lacking the kind of pull that demands repeated listens. When it comes to life during its immense, orchestral finale, you get the sense of the intensity that could have driven the entire track. Still, as a showcase for the girls’ vocals and undeniable charisma, Abandoned’s sorrowful power delivers the kind of spectacle most Brown Eyed Girls fans would want.
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As a vocal performance, it is quite lovely. It is more restrained than their previous body of work where louder and higher equaled good in theory which it didn’t in practice. Years on they have matured and I think their vocals are better, as least versus their popular hit catalog with which I am most familiar.
As far as the song, this is one of those long ballads which is for a more domestic market. I listened to it three times and I am done.