Given Apink’s continued success, it’s no surprise to see another solo release from Jeong Eunji. So far, her work has hinged on ballads and mid-tempos, but Simple’s summery theme seemed poised to deliver more upbeat fare. AWay certainly has more energy than most of her solo material, though the cathartic pop track still draws from many of the hallmarks found in traditional K-pop ballads.
Apart from her success as an actress, Eunji’s warm vocals are the first thing I’d point to when considering her place in K-pop. They’re put to good use here, even if AWay’s arrangement is straightforward and casts its focus toward the broadest audience possible. The song follows in the footsteps of IU’s 2020 work, offering a radio-friendly (some would say “generic”) sound that feels like a self-help book put to music. There’s nothing wrong with these kind of surging, sentimental belters, though they do tend to come across as toothless when compared to K-pop’s more daring comebacks.
If such a thing exists in K-pop, AWay would fall under an “adult contemporary” classification. It’s easy listening – smooth and pleasant and relatively timeless. Its chorus is catchy from the first listen, but in a simple, repetitive way that may hamper its longevity. I appreciate its bounding energy, and general sense of musical positivity. The song is like a warm, comforting blanket, which matches well with Eunji’s vocal color. However, it’s a little too milquetoast to stand out as a summer highlight.
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This is a very confident vocal. Note to 4th Gen kpop: to have a lasting career in kpop, you actually have to be able to sing. Being lucky also helps. But I can’t think of any 2nd Gen group still active that doesn’t have a full dugout of good singers on their team.
The song itself, yes “Adult Contemporary” would be its filing location. It gets a touch too more screaming than singing for my taste as the song swells and builds, but is nevertheless better than most out there.
Related topic: I listened to Oh Hayoung “Don’t make me laugh” far more last year than I will ever admit to. Pleasant, easy, happy song.