With over 3,000 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.
The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!
Year Released: 2008
At the time of Rainism’s release, Rain had already become a global superstar with vast influence across Asia. But, 2008 was still a potentially tricky juncture in his career. He’d just departed JYP Entertainment, the agency responsible for nurturing his artistry for many years. Absent the steady production of Park Jinyoung, Rain was free to embrace new collaborators and even dabble in songwriting himself. When it comes to pop stars, we’ve seen this go wrong plenty of times. But, Rainism felt like a mini-revolution, and quickly became his defining song.
Written by Rain himself (with an assist from veteran artist Bae Jin Ryeol), Rainism continued the harder-edged r&b of past singles like It’s Raining. It remains his best-selling single, taken from his best-selling album. The song borrows heavily from the robotic grooves of international producers like Timbaland, casting a skeletal beat over tense, rugged synths. For most of the track, the instrumental remains quite sparse, though it always feels as if it’s about to build toward something more climactic. The closest we get is Rainism’s simple chorus, which brings in touches of guitar distortion for added oomph.
Still Rainism is an odd little track, hesitant even as it launches into a series of slinky dance breaks. The production takes its time, lingering on moments and sounds that would form far shorter segments in most K-pop singles. Rather than bludgeon listeners over the head, the track’s appeal rests on Rain’s sinuous vocal, which moves from sleazy comes ons to wisps of brilliant falsetto. There aren’t many idol performers who can generate this kind of ridiculous charisma – completely over-the-top but simultaneously laid-back and groovy.