Review

Song Review: Chen – Hello

Is it weird that, even after the first note, part of me expected Hello (안녕) to be a cover of Adele’s 2015 mega-hit? To be honest, I wouldn’t mind hearing that. Instead, Chen’s latest release is the kind of ballad you’d expect this time of year in Korea. It’s been awhile since I’ve written about this sort of K-ballad, mostly because I’m just not much of a ballad person. I only really love this style when it’s paired with a great drama. Speaking of which, I’ve become completely absorbed in the currently-airing JTBC drama 18 Again, to the point where even its drippy OST ballad has somehow gained resonance.

But I digress. Chen’s Hello is not an OST song. It’s just him doing something he does really, really well. Of all the EXO members, he’s positioned himself as the king of ballads. And even if I (along with many other fans) would rather hear him tackle rock music, I can’t deny that he knows his way around a track like this. Hello is autumn put into music, and Chen’s emotive performance sells that sentiment. The instrumental hinges mostly on piano, and there are some great moments where the keys help guide the melody. The verses and pre-chorus have a nice fluidity to their movement that builds momentum.

But, Hello is wise employ its greatest fireworks during the chorus. Percussion fills out the instrumental as Chen’s vocals (both main and harmony) surge to dramatic heights. The melody is standard OST-mush, but it’s arranged with plenty of panache. It won’t be enough to make me suddenly fall in love with sentimental piano ballads, but I can appreciate Hello’s assuredness.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

9 thoughts on “Song Review: Chen – Hello

  1. .
    It is a song like this that demonstrates why when asked a few years ago for a short list of the best vocalists in SM, Kyuhyun put Chen at the top of his list.

    He just charges through that bridge like it is nothing. He just charges from mixed to through head voice to falsetto and back like it is nothing. The sung harmonies are really nice, especially 1:03-1:05 some really close seconds in there.

    For being a k-ballad, the chorus is rather upbeat. Its almost, perhaps, a mid tempo. It doesn’t remind so much of an OST which are usually slower and sappier and longer, as it reminds me of a Jung Seung Hwan ballad (see for example The Snowman ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPNu9OIj4Zo). OK ok for the typical listener, this is a subtlety but hey I listen to more k-ballads than most of you, so mho.

    It is so nice to hear a kpop vocalist who can sing as well live as on the recording, and without excessive microphone effects, and without wondering if it is secretly prerecorded and lipsynced like some do (and who fool their fans pretty well actually). (“ooh, he is so stable!” no he’s not, it was prerecorded on that mic yesterday.) oops, sorry, rant over.

    That said, rating is about right.

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  2. As a big fan of ballads, this one will probably be staying on my playlist. I wasn’t really a big fan of his other works, but they are pretty enjoyable to listen. This one’s really impressive, and chen knew how to utilize his vocals well in songs like this.

    Though not really impactful like that of the works of park hyoshin and kim bumsoo (for me), it’s a nice add on to the sweet autumn songs.

    By the way, just in case you see this nick, what are your thoughts of verivery’s hold me tight? It’s actually the most solid tracks in their recent album, considering the title track is… questionable for me.

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    • To be honest, I find the whole VERIVERY album to be lukewarm, at best. It’ll be their first album that I don’t plan to purchase. Hold Me Tight is fine, but doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.

      IMO, they’ve really got to nail down what kind of a group they want to be. Even this new trilogy of theirs feels unfocused.

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  3. Wow.

    This is Chen’s best performance. He gets to show off so much of his voice, & he does it amazingly. The harmonies are really well placed. The opening line of the chorus is gorgeous, & the piano accompaniment in the second verse is strong enough to be its own song. The melodic writing throughout is some of the best I’ve heard this year. The lyrics are also really beautiful.

    I actually laughed reading your review of this because it’s so different from mine. Admittedly I love piano ballads more than any other genre, but part of me still feels that 7.5 rating is sacrilege. I definitely disagree with the melody being “standard OST mush.” It’s consistently engaging (Chen himself contributes a lot to this with his phrasing), it has easy to remember “catchy” moments, & it takes unexpected turns that Chen executes beautifully while moving through his range. This is my number 1 contender for song of the year, & it’s a 9.75 for me.

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    • That line at 2:24 to 2:32 just kills me. The build, the swell, the shift in the vowel and volume at the crest, the decrescendo. That line alone reflects not only raw talent, but years of dedicated practice and training.

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  4. Well, I guess this is where our tastes are really different. I remember when I commented on your review of SF9. I’m a huge fan of sentimental ballads that connect with me musically, bonus points if they have guitar paired with piano. This makes a song that would’ve been a masterpiece OST for some kdrama. The song also changes its key(?) to keep it interesting. 8.5/10 for me. Not the best ballad I’ve ever heard, but this is quite a good one.

    Talking about ballads, off topic but TXT is having a comeback soon yet I’m still mad over Bighit for not releasing the full Can’t You See Me ballad version in the teasers ( https://youtu.be/MBu4EGjz1Qo ) instead of that whatever dark-2020-boygroup-in-a-nutshell version.

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