Song Review: Younha – Stardust

Younha - StarlightI haven’t yet listened to Younha’s new album, but the preview left me a little confused. The snippets sounded quite strong, with a rock influence well-suited to her voice. But for the title track, she’s opted for one of the only straightforward ballads. I know ballads are popular this time of year, but it seems like an overly safe choice that doesn’t quite represent the rest of the work.

However, Stardust (별의 조각) arrives with a behind-the-scenes pedigree. It’s composed by Urban Zakapa’s Kwon Sunil. I’m sure this name recognition factored into the agency’s promotional choices, and I can’t blame them from wanting to capitalize on the connection. And though Stardust is predictable, it’s also beautiful and well-executed. The structure of the melody strongly recalls Kim Jongwan’s work. I can hear more than a little of Taeyeon’s Time Lapse here. Rather than opt for a verse/chorus approach, Stardust delivers the same refrains over and over again, leaning on changes in arrangement to give each repetition a different nuance.

I like this approach, and think that it works especially well in a symphonic track like this. Stardust opens with piano and vocal before gradually building toward more robust sounds. Strings join the mix as percussion becomes more insistent. Younha’s vocal echoes the production, growing more forceful and cathartic. This gives Stardust a satisfying musical storyline. The song climbs toward an orchestral interlude, then swoops back for a brief acapella refrain before bringing the instrumental back. It’s a tried-and-true formula, but it forges a magical sound.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8


14 thoughts on “Song Review: Younha – Stardust

  1. The chorus sounds thiscloseto Lee Sora’s classic “The Wind is Blowing”
    I mean, really, really close.
    I mean, I suppose apeing Lee Sora is not a bad thing, except when it is copying. Also, Lee Sora brings a shed load more passion.


        • This cover is very good, bonus points for also accompanying herself on piano. Which makes me wonder if this song here is perhaps meant as an homage or response to Lee Sora’s song. Benefit of the doubt?

          As I was listening for the nth time to both, it occured to me that the main chorus line in Jonghyun – Lee hi’s “Breathe” is a truncated version on the same main line here, achingly abbreviated and only semi-resolved.


  2. This is a pretty good ballad. Idk really know much about Younha other than this and RM song, but I played the first few songs of her album and it was a pretty weird listen. Like the first sonf was this EDM ballad(?) then it moved into some rock/acoustic affairs. Wasn’t really my style but I thought this title was pretty good.


  3. I started at “oh, this will go nice on the ballads playlist” and then got to the big swoopy strings and got to “oh, I really like this!” The a capella section towards the end caught me off guard, but in a good way. I like her singing in the lower range better than the higher range, but that’s nothing new.

    I hadn’t planned on listening to the whole album right away, but “Here” started playing and I *love* this. She does the a capella thing again, which I don’t like as much here, but that’s probably because the hazy instrumental is a big highlight for me. And, oh wait, is that real brass in the outro? I think we have real brass here, people!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I listened to “Here”. As I believe everything else is synth, I am going to say it all is synth. Although it is all very well done and far more realistic an impactful than most others out there.

      Last year, I listened to a lot of the atmospheric music while quarantined at home with the kids – the ones cycling for hours on youtube with the pictures of nature, and rain or flute or harp or storm or whatever sounds soothe the soul today. My second monitor with youtube in theater mode with nature. I also had smell-a-rama going with those plugins from Bath and Body Works. Anything to shift the atmosphere slightly from day to day or morning to evening.

      “Here” sounds like one of them, with voice instead of harp. I think I overdosed on such last year, somuchso I know which ones I like or disliked by thumbnail, but hey, who am I to judge?

      There was the one with the palm leaf hanging down, the puddly brook with stepping stones, the underwater one. And then, on my feed one day was this guy with real old fashioned composed proper ambient music. There are a few others by him on youtube which I will let you find if desired.


      Liked by 1 person

      • I spent much of 2018-19 listening to Apple Music’s “Spa” radio station – similar vibes. I want to get my hands on the credits for “Here” because if that’s synth brass, it’s synth brass that actually sounds like French horns rather than undifferentiated “brass” and that’s super impressive.


  4. I playlisted 11/11 tracks on this, but almost skipped her performance on Music Bank because I wasn’t feeling like a ballad, but it turns out they mislabeled the video and she’s actually performing the excellent b-side “Oort Cloud”, including guitar, backup “singers” and a tap solo. What?

    Liked by 1 person

    • And a tap solo ?!!!! oh this stage is great! And she plays guitar too, nice.

      I had to click through to the youtube comments to see who are the “backup singers” are. It is the rookie group Epex supporting their sunbae.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha I was watching MB last night and this stage was such a delight. EPEX + the tap dancer was so unexpected. Music shows are usually 99% predictable, so it’s always fun when something new and interesting happens.

        Liked by 2 people

        • She performed this on Music Core and Inkigayo as well (complete with tap dancer and bouncing baby boy band) so I’m even more confused why “Stardust” got official title status.

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.