The era of post-GFriend projects is upon us, with Viviz’s debut next month and Yuju’s solo album today. I’m still in shock that the group is no more, but it will be interesting to hear the music they come up with. If Play (놀이) is any indication, Yuju is set to lean into her skills as a vocalist with material that puts her performance front and center.
Yuju is one of my favorite vocalists in K-pop, responsible for so many highlights within GFriend’s discography. With that said, I couldn’t quite picture her as a soloist. Beyond gentle coffeehouse fare and OST ballads, I don’t really see her going down a traditional K-pop route. Expectedly, Play finds a middle ground between the confines of catchy music show material and the more subdued sound of a “serious” artist.
Yuju gets a writing credit on Play, alongside Chancellor of Duble Sidekick and a few familiar global names. They power the track with atmospheric production and a slinky beat. Yuju sounds fantastic as ever, but Play’s melody isn’t doing much for me. The chorus is repeated as a plucked five-note theme throughout the instrumental, causing the refrain to wear a bit thin as the track goes on. I wish we had some kind of modulation – a key change, or even just a sense of growth within the production itself. But, Play is content to ride its straightforward groove all the way to the end. It casts a beguiling atmosphere and I enjoy how the song weaves in traditional instrumentation. But, the most captivating thing here is Yuju’s voice.
I wish the melody was more dynamic to showcase her performing abilities better. YuJu has been performing for a long while, and this song doesn’t highlight her special skills over other, younger soloists.
The song stays in the same confines of about 5 or 6 notes right in the middle of her range and in the same timbre and intensity, with occasional light airy forays higher. At least the producers could have had her soundscape the performance with some parts whispered, some parts angsty, some parts gritty. Instead we get the same straight-ahead delivery. There isn’t even any vocal fry which is the contemporary go-to effect.
Its a bad break-up song, lean into it more! Make me feel the angst and woe! She just doesn’t sound upset enough, more like, oh boyfriend left me yeah whatev shrug.
I think the volume was also equalized too much.
Even though I think Yuju’s very talented, I also didn’t expect her to go down a solo route – I kept thinking how much I wanted her to join Viviz instead, though I don’t know how much of this opinion is me thinking she suits a group more or rather me latching onto Viviz as a replacement GFriend 😅.
Anyways, unfortunately this was quite boring to me. Too slow and I agree that the melody is not dynamic enough to really interest me. I will also echo what Myma said about the song not really showcasing her abilities.
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Not being familiar with her before, I enjoyed this! I like slinky songs like this that stay in a comfortable register. It reminds me of something SUNMI would do.
As the behind the scenes with Chancellor shows, she had a lot in those lyrics. This is just the first shot for her. I like that she did a lot in her lower register and showed a lot of nuance.
Also, the album has a lot of different styles and the woman can rap. The intro song is a flat out rock burner.