Review

Song Review: Woohyun – Calm & Passion

Nam Woohyun - Calm & PassionInfinite’s Woohyun wasted no time after military service, releasing new music just weeks after being discharged. He’s one of two Infinite members sticking with Woollim Entertainment, though it seems the guys have negotiated stipulations that allow them to remain active as a group. As I’ve mentioned before, Woohyun is one of my absolute favorite voices in K-pop. I’ll happily listen to him sing anything, though I much prefer a blazing dance track like 2019’s Hold On Me to the traditional ballads he often performs.

New single Calm & Passion (냉정과 열정 사이) falls somewhere in the middle of those extremes, and my opinion of the song mirrors that dichotomy. Woohyun has never released a title track in this style, though they’ve appeared as b-sides on his albums. This subdued, mid-tempo sound will never quite thrill me unless it’s driven by dynamic production or a super strong melody. Calm & Passion approaches both conditions, but never makes it over the line.

Speaking of lines, I love the bassline that supports the song’s verses. It gives Calm & Passion a groovy vibe, as if the track is ready to pounce. Woohyun’s vocal supports this style. It’s restrained but charismatic. The pre-chorus feels more rote, opting for a generic ‘pull back and build’ structure we hear too often in modern pop music. However, the instrumental scores bonus points for its sprinkling of guitar. It’s consistently atmospheric, like the soundtrack to some moody film. The two-part chorus opens with a minimalist rhythm before blossoming into a vocal-driven hook. Both pieces are too simple for my taste, but Woohyun lends enough nuance to make them work. Still, Calm & Passion is more “calm” than “passion.” Even though the song is nice, I would’ve preferred a gutsier comeback.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.25

16 thoughts on “Song Review: Woohyun – Calm & Passion

  1. What exactly is it that you love about his voice? I don’t know the infinite members well enough to attach a voice to a face. I think he voice is pretty good, but I feel like I’ve heard it before.

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    • I love it most in upbeat dance tracks. His rich tone brings gravitas to songs that might otherwise feel super poppy, and he absolutely attacks power notes in a really visceral way. His style has real showmanship that almost feels better suited to theatre, but works wonders when tethered to a big pop song.

      However, I’ll admit that a lot of his solo work is… kinda dull. I appreciate his voice most as part of the diverse suite of tones within Infinite.

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      • Pulling out this LEGENDARY performance as an example. Three minutes in is why I love him so much. He really brings the drama, unashamedly.

        (This whole performance is freaking epic, though. If only current-gen groups went for this kind of vocal bombast.)

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    • Its hard to hear the vocal quality in today’s song, but let me give another example – WooHyun with our other Bias List favorite SungKyu. There is an earnestness and almost old fashioned commitment and investment in singing and emoting. It isn’t about wowing the audience with range or crazy note or making the right camera wink at the right time – which they both can do – but it goes beyond that to give such a confident performance. There is no high wire act here, its just a real live human performance.

      Another example – the key change in The Chaser. The way the singer just charges into the key change while the underlying instrumental is still mid-changing key. That’s Nam Woo Hyun. He just owns that key change. Here its at 3:27. Point at the audience and nail it. (goosebumps) This being a clip from 2012 with a late 2nd gen group, they are actually singing and dancing live live.

      Here is another example. In typical music show style, he sings along with the backing vocal. But what do you not hear? That slightly-off voice doubling is not there. For other singers, one hears a slight aural dissonance of the perfectly tuned backing track with the singers real voice which is a few hertz flat. (drives me nuts) Nam Woo has just about perfect pitch.

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  2. please check out Eunhyuk’s new solo song “BE” 🙏 (a pre-release from Super Junior-D&E’s “Countdown” album) the lyrics of both of his solo songs were written by him. I think “Be” is really beautiful and meaningful 💙

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