Lee Hi rose to fame as a contestant on the very first K-variety show I ever watched: K-pop Star. I still remember the excitement of her debut, marking the arrival of a new voice in the industry. 1,2,3,4 and – much later – Breathe, were the kind of crossover hits that stay lodged in the charts for months. Since leaving YG Entertainment and signing with AOMG, it feels like Lee Hi has become more of a niche artist – beloved by fans but no longer the hyped-up newcomer of 2012.
However, she’s still got that voice, capable of drawing emotion from the tiniest slivers of melody. Last year’s HOLO gave her an old-school soul sound to sink her teeth into. New single Savior (구원자) opts for a more modern touch, casting a plaintive tone over a subdued instrumental. The jazzy keys and brushes of percussion deliver a soft, muted energy. It’s sprightly enough to nod your head to, but never so loud that it might interrupt your conversation over coffee.
Savior pairs Lee Hi with B.I – another ex-YG artist – for the first time since 2019’s No One. He’s used sparingly, not appearing until the song’s bridge – three minutes in. He delivers an impactful rap verse, offering a contrasting tone that pulls Savior to its finale. The rest of the track keeps its gentle groove intact, relying on the appeal of Hi’s vocal to maintain interest. I wish the melody did more heavy lifting, whether that be in the verses or chorus. Both segments pass by without much fanfare, and several listens later I still have a hard time recalling any of Savior’s strengths. But, I guess a song like this is more about vibe and sentiment than knock-you-over-the-head melodic showcases.