Song Review: Sunmi – Heart Burn

Sunmi - Heart BurnLast time Sunmi graced us with a summer song at the start of the season, it came in the form of the glorious Pporappippam. That’s a high bar to match, and new single Heart Burn (열이올라요) doesn’t really try. Rather than offer another retro banger, the track takes a subdued, moody route – two descriptors I’ve used endlessly when it comes to the current slate of K-pop releases.

If anyone is going to pull off “subdued and moody,” it’s Sunmi. Her evocative vocal tone is tailor-made for this vibe. She’s one of the few idols who can make sultry sing-talk totally compelling, and Heart Burn gives her plenty of opportunity to leverage this strength. It’s a solid song, and I imagine many are going to love it. The guitar-driven instrumental keeps the energy consistent and engaging. Quite randomly, its central riff reminds me of Belinda Carlisle’s 1988 hit Circle in the Sand — just less punchy. The melody swirls around this production with a single-minded, hypnotic approach. There isn’t much differentiation between verses and choruses. The song just slides forward on its hazy summertime aesthetic.

However, it takes something very special for a mid-tempo like this to stick out for me. I can’t fault Heart Burn as a song, but I don’t see it becoming something I play as often as Sunmi’s past work. It’s almost too hesitant – too reliant on soft “ooh la la” hooks without the diversity of melody that might make the song pop. But, Sunmi’s performance elevates Heart Burn immensely. Her charisma is unmatched, and keeps the track from fading completely into the background.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8


9 thoughts on “Song Review: Sunmi – Heart Burn

  1. What can I say here? Although the song itself is pretty subdued and the melody suffers from a lack of punch, it throws in some rock influences, which is the thing I love.
    After three listens, I still feel unsure about my own rating, but I think I’ll put this song in the mid-8’s.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I absolutely love this track. It sounds like a fever dream, which makes so much sense for a summer love. Apparently this comeback was supposed to be the day time version of Pporappippam and I think she killed it once again.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Pporappippam was one of the top songs of the year for me so expectations were high from a Sunmi comeback. Instead of trying to top that song, Sunmi went for a different approach which doesn’t quite hit the mark. It’s not moody enough nor is it groovy enough though it tries hard to be both. I’ll give it a couple of more listens (since its Sunmi) but this one is mostly forgettable.


  4. I think it was a mistake for her or her team or whoever to compare it with Pporappippam. That being said, it’s a pleasant little song though I do agree that it’s not amazing. I am liking it more with every listen so hopefully it will age well.

    I guess all this proves is that Sunmi and Frants are the perfect match and are responsible for the best of her songs. Whenever she works with other producers, it just doesn’t give the same result.


  5. As someone who didn’t love Pporappippam nearly as much as most people (the pre-chorus kills the song for me and also the name is awful and the korean version is a lot better, “Purple Night”), I think I’ll take this one.

    The instrumental and groove really carry the song and I think this will be a slow burner. It isn’t amazing or anything but I like it and I feel like I’ll end up liking it more with time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I honestly love this song so much. Its prob not my favorite of her title tracks but tbh thats not saying much since all her titles are so stellar. Her voice is dreamy so it really sells the whole mellow, love struck mood. Sunmi herself is also incredibly gorgeous and charismatic that she elevates the song to a new level for me. I think this song given to any other artist wouldn’t score so high in my books but, as said before, Sunmi can do no wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

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