Hong Jinyoung’s new music often seems to arrive as we’re moving into spring, and she’s just the right person to soundtrack that transition. As K-pop’s leading purveyor of trot crossover, her singles are usually upbeat and enthusiastic – two qualities we could certainly use right now. Last year’s Love Tonight veered in a more straightforward dance-pop direction with great success. New single Love Is Like A Petal (사랑은 꽃잎처럼) takes us into trot tango territory, a triple “T” threat if ever there was one!
It’s refreshing to hear Jinyoung explore new sounds, but Petal’s assets are the same that have always made her music enjoyable. She’s an intensely likable performer, generous in her vocal style and rich with personality. You know what you’re going to get from a Hong Jinyoung track, but the results rarely disappoint.
With that said, I’d place Petal firmly in the middle of her catalog. It’s not as instantly hooky as some of her best work, and doesn’t draw strongly on the trot affectations that have made her such a star. Yet, the instrumental’s theatrical energy feels especially potent during these times of trap-rap and mumbled r&b. Petal has a widescreen, earnest appeal that fits Jinyoung well. Its tango elements limit the song’s structure somewhat, and I think it would have been better off with the kind of iconic chorus that characterized past singles like Love Battery or Thumb Up. Instead, the verses and chorus kind of run together, cresting on a series of extended notes that are dramatic and well-performed, yet simultaneously lack a sense of immediacy.
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