Once a titan of the K-ballad scene, Roy Kim got caught up in the wide-reaching Burning Sun scandal. And though investigations eventually cleared his name, the damage had already been done. The K-pop industry prizes image above all else, and once that’s been tarnished it’s hard for an artist to claw their way back. Linger On (살아가는 거야) marks a stark, pensive comeback for Kim – his last before impending military enlistment.
Roy Kim’s vocals can make even the slightest of material sound important and affecting. Still, I’ll be forever irritated that – after his first mini album – his music became so ballad-centric. Sure, he delivers them well, but the quirkier pop of tracks like Bom Bom Bom and Love Love Love felt like a more idiosyncratic match. Still, given the circumstances I didn’t exactly expect him to come out with some big toe-tapping moment.
Instead, Linger On is musical catharsis, so clearly tied to this moment in his career that it’s hard to separate from the artist himself. This sense of honesty is refreshing, even though the song itself is standard ballad 101. The chorus surges with a weighty resonance, while the rest of the track rarely raises above what I would call “hushed.” The guitar-and-strings arrangement is par for the course for these kind of OST-sounding ballads, though a little twang here and there gives it a rootsier appeal. As farewell singles go, this is spot-on. It’s not one of my go-to sub-genres of K-pop, but I can appreciate the sentiment and emotion behind it.
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