Review

Song Review: Yesung (Super Junior) – Beautiful Night

Yesung - Beautiful NightSuper Junior’s Yesung pre-released the emotional ballad Phantom Pain a little over a week ago, and as part of that review I expressed my hope for more upbeat material in the future. I suppose Beautiful Night is as good as we’re going to get when it comes to increased energy. Like his bandmate Kyuhyun, Yesung knows where his bread is buttered. I think his albums will always lean toward subdued sounds.

To Beautiful Night’s credit, the song firmly lodges itself within current K-pop trends. A touch of city pop influence drives its retro appeal. For me, city pop can be a frustrating prospect. I love its 80’s aesthetic, and can never get enough of its satisfying synths. Beautiful Night even throws in a saxophone solo for good measure. But, it also embraces the genre’s least interesting aspects. The track finds its groove immediately and never modulates to something more dynamic.

Beautiful Night is smooth and relaxing. It’s muted and atmospheric. And, it fits Yesung’s vocal color quite well. However, it’s also quite dull. The melody holds no real surprises, while the instrumental nudges it in all the expected ways. If I were to play this song in the background while working, I’d be nodding my head in enjoyment. But as a focal point, nothing really draws me in. Thankfully, Beautiful Night builds to a nice climax, with Yesung’s vocal matching the intensity of that ever-present saxophone. He’s skilled enough to elevate tame material, but I’d love to see him push outside his comfort zone.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

12 thoughts on “Song Review: Yesung (Super Junior) – Beautiful Night

  1. Just when I think you are not reviewing a song, here it is. I think the song is elevated by the smooth vocal, which swoops low and high, effortlessly. For the song itself, I’m not a city pop person, so it is ok enough.

    For the city pop regulars here, does this flavor do it for you? Is the vocal strong enough? Is the brass and bass enough? Is something missing that I would not know? Be honest – you are providing us a public service by teaching us about city pop.

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    • I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic but I’m going to assume the best and take this as a serious request. I’m in no way an expert but I do listen to an inordinate amount of city pop so I might have some credibility. I do definitely think this is one of the more faithful city pop influenced songs along with Yukika’s stuff. Hallelujah finally some actual brass that’s present throughout the entire song. See guys it wasn’t that hard. There’s some fun synth moments that I dig. There was a fun section around the 40/45 second mark that I thought was gonna build up a bit more but it was a nice little tease. It’s got a very velvety, summer night feel that is very city pop.
      I do have one complaint and it’s not unique to this song but to nearly every kpop artist that does a city pop inspired song but why so mellow? Like yes city pop songs usually keep the same energy throughout the song but a lot of songs start really energetic and stay there the entire time. Like quite a lot of city pop songs get funky, they get a little intense. I’d love to see someone try to tackle a Galactic Funk by Cassiopeia type song or something more upbeat like I Don’t Know by Babe or anything by Yoko Oginome (the goddess that brought us Dancing Hero/Eat You Up that was cover by Celeb Five a couple years back). She has some pretty high energy songs though they do remain pretty consistent throughout the song energy-wise without any major shifts. I guess I’m never going to be satisfied with a Kpop does City Pop song because they’re never going to fully commit since at the end of the day they are kpop idols promoting in 2021. If I want city pop I should just listen to city pop (which I do, quite often).

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      • I was serious – in other recent city pop reviews, some regulars pointed out these things as suboptimal (the brass, vocal, bass), so I am genuinely inquiring.
        And now adding “energy” as something some city pop lovers look for.

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      • You took the words out of my mouth, Mino. Kpop City Pop is so mellow! It often comes across as more pastiche to me, or even general 80’s, rather than faithful recreation. Not to say I don’t enjoy Yukika or Yesung’s attempts (and I still LOVE Lady by Yubin). City Pop just has more juice in the tank, and a more complex (and rewarding) instrumental than Kpop’s nods to it.

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    • As far as K-Pop meets City Pop, it is fine, but it does not do too much. I think the instrumentation is too brassy, and could be a little more diverse. A more diverse instrumentation, perhaps with some reeds would work great, like Junko Ohasi’s I Love You So.

      Another good example of a good trick the song could use would be the piano slide in ANRI’s I Can’t Stop Loving You, first appearing around 0:58

      My whole point, which Mino also pointed out, this is very classic City Pop, but a tad generic example of the style. Also, as he pointed out, it is a little too mellow, and does not do too much with its basic melody. It is chill, but could use a little more storytelling and flourishes, with a few minor changes, this could actually be turned into an R&B song.

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      • You know what’s another think I’ve noticed (since I’ve now been listening to the Yoko Oginome mix on Spotify all morning) but a lot of kpop does city pop songs don’t have a strong bass? Well I don’t know if it’s a bass or just a strong drum beat but theres usually this strong beat underneath city pop songs that gives them that sturdier less flimsy feeling. Like I could easily push over any modern city pop song but the ogs have this weightiness to them. They pack more of a punch. That could also be due to the diversity of instrumental that the last commenter discussed.

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        • I think it is strong drum beats. The beats in old City Pop are frequently placed, adding a sort of brisk, windy feel which the brass could surf on. I did not realize till now, but that is what K-Pop City Pop seems to fail at. Either they go for too hard of a beat, losing that weightless charm (I think the weightiness you mentioned is due to the instrumental diversity but in more of a celebratory weight rather than true weightiness), or lack any strong beat at all. I think the latter is more common and that is this song’s issue.

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      • Thank you both. That Anri one sounds like full out disco to me. It would not have been out of place on the Soul Train music show.

        The Junko one, I had listened to the full album when it was suggested a few city pop reviews ago. Its also very early 80’s old school R&B slash late 70’s disco era. Even the flute sound , who puts a flute in music anymore but right about then, they did. I could date the song just by that flute sound.

        What is really interesting is that they both sound so of that era in the US, except this is Japan, so that sound was going on, on both sides of an ocean, at the same time.

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        • Yeah, I was the guy who suggested the album. The song and album are the peak of City Pop, and will not stop gushing about them anytime soon.

          Show hands, who wants flutes back in pop (slowly raises hand)

          Actually, I think a whole chunk of the world sounded like that. India and Pakistan were in the middle of disco and 80s pop trends, for example, the classic Bappi Lahiri track Yaad A Raha Hai Tera Pyaar, and Nazia Hassan’s Aap Jaisa Koi. They both sound like a mix of City Pop and Western Pop of that era. China too was going through a similar phase.

          The odd one out was actually Korea, who were finally going through their rock phase that the west had in the 60s, along with a ballad phase.

          That is the thing with music. While local trends are certainly a thing, it is a combined community. You can’t isolate one region fully from another. And frankly, that is why music is great. If our ancestors were not willing to share music, then classical music pieces east and west would sound very, very different.

          Sorry if this got ranty, I love music history.

          Liked by 2 people

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