A couple weeks after ex-bandmate Baekho’s solo debut, Nu’est’s JR — now working under his given name — has unveiled his own post-group work. Like Baekho, he’s already recorded several solo tracks as part of Nu’est’s albums. These songs were more varied than his position in the group might suggest. I Hate You, With and Doom Doom all flirted with vastly different genres, but each became a highlight among the members’ solos. This bodes well for the next stage of Jonghyeon’s career. Sadly, the newly released Lights isn’t as memorable.
If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I visibly cringed the moment the song’s plonky percussion came in. This specific K-pop sound has never been something I’ve enjoyed, and Lights’ mid-tempo bounce does nothing for me. That’s not to say it’s poorly produced. The song knows what it wants to be and delivers that vibe from start to finish. A cool dance breakdown even injects some diversity into the arrangement.
However, Lights isn’t the type of sonic revelation that instantly establishes Jonghyeon as a soloist to watch. It’s the latest in a long stream of chill K-pop solos and will likely get lost in the shuffle unless you’re already a huge fan. On the plus side, Jonghyeon is able to flex his skills as a vocalist and a rapper, fulfilling both roles with an effortless sense of cool. The hook is a nice little earworm, though its sing-songy nature isn’t something that’s likely to take up space on my own playlist.