Lee Hi’s HOLO is her first work as part of the AOMG label, a signing that was officially announced this week. This is great news for fans. Unlike YG Entertainment and its subsidiaries, AOMG is known for… you know… actually releasing music. We may no longer have to wait years in between new Lee Hi material. But even as part of this big transition, HOLO finds Lee Hi in her soulful, throwback comfort zone.
HOLO is a classic r&b soul ballad, with elements of blues and even some gospel flavor. It’s melodically rich, even if its melodic themes are nothing new within these genres. Still, it’s important to match artist and song well, and HOLO’s emotive, slow-burn structure allows the nuances in Hi’s voice to shine. I can’t think of another mainstream Korean artist better suited to HOLO’s nostalgic style.
Opening with piano and voice, the track quickly blossoms into a grander affair. Percussion gradually builds throughout the second half of the first verse, setting the stage for a much more robust chorus. Here, HOLO delivers additional piano, hearty background vocals and even a bit of organ to deliver a stately, church-like sound. This maintains through the rest of the track, making for a compelling second verse and a cathartic climb toward HOLO’s climax. The arrangement never strays from the song’s genre expectations, but at just under three minutes, HOLO packs a wallop within its tight frame. It’s a satisfying “welcome back” for one of K-pop’s most beguiling vocalists.
Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!
I think Lee Hi is in fine form here. Good to hear her back! Oh, but the song is a bit of a downer in a down year. As if we need more downer music.
It is worth noting a few missed opportunities though. The song starting right about 2:44 is built for full-on singing competition holy cow wow belting. Even if/since they don’t throw in a key change (which would have been easy), she could have sung a C# at 3:00 instead of a Bb with an extended descending melisma, which would have elevated it that much more. Instead, she just meets the song melody as is.
Also, in the music show live version she is extremely hesitant, which I attribute to not getting out much to sing live. Some would say YG not letting her out. Practice practice practice! Compare to Kyuhyun who also released a song today. Kyu’s song is WYSIWYG what you see is what you get. He sings live just about every day of his life, between musicals and variety shows and those singing shows and recording new material. You know that when a live version is released, which should be .. any … minute … now, it will sound just as good as the studio version. You don’t worry about voice cracking or hitting a high or low note or not.
I totally agree that she needs more practice and sing live more. I am glad to see she starts singing live in different music shows, radios, and other online music shows. Her live shows are much better, and she is more confident than the first Mnet Show. It is a good start for her!