Kim So-jung, a former Superstar K2 participant (which brought vocalists Huh Gak and John Park into the spotlight), recently came back with “Beautiful Love.” So-jung’s activities and promotion has been relatively minimal compared to her fellow competitors, having only debuted last year with single “Sweat and Tears.” Following her debut, Kim So-jung has recorded an OST for the fairly popular drama Queen In-hyun’s Man and a comeback single in the form of “Blap,” with little activities in between. Just recently, however, So-jung has made her quiet and return with “Beautiful Love,” a soothing, acoustic-inspired mid-tempo about innocent love.

As a song, “Beautiful Love” shines with its endearing simplicity and melodiousness. The instrumental is driven dominantly by the acoustic guitar with the electric piano and other forms of percussion complementing the sound and progression. The verses are rhythmic and melodic, and a very smooth pre-chorus transitions to the considerably more chipper chorus. Said chorus is probably the highlight of the song for its use of repetition is catchy and addictive yet highly enjoyable as well. The end result is an adorable, yet highly likable and deeply soothing listen.

The interesting vocal complexion in Kim So-jung’s softer, airier voice was unfortunately lost in her previous singles, for “Sweat and Tears” was often too strong and direct to fully showcase the fluidity in Kim’s voice and “Blap” required too little vocal work to fully showcase Kim’s potential. Fortunately, “Beautiful Love” perfectly highlights the alleviating aspects in So-jung’s voice, hitting a perfect medium between the two extremes, her calm voice working compatibly with the concept of the song. Furthermore, her execution is on-point, with her subtle vocals adding the bit of needed emotive yearning and nostalgia the lively and chipper song needed to fully tell its story of hesitant and reminiscent love.

Much like the song it accompanies, the music video for “Beautiful Love” is similarly minimal. Filmed under a fittingly glowing filter, the music video depicts Kim So-jung rising in the morning and reflecting on her innocent past love.

The overall aesthetic of the video is warm and bright, with the room the entirety of the music video is filmed in being completely bathed in sunlight. The song’s sunny aesthetic is fairly uncommon at this time of the year, as the year’s winter releases tend to feature sadder themes and employ cooler color schemes. However, the video’s more amicable take on winter is a refreshing sight. The winter setting and Kim So-jung’s warm sweaters give a sense of serenity and affection, traits often lacking during a year’s winter releases.

There is little true action in the music video, as the video first shifts from So-jung rising from bed to her looking over what looks to be an old scrapbook with cuts of her performing sprinkled in between. However, the less conventional camera angles and shooting techniques make these simple scenes appear candid and impartial, with So-jung’s fresher styling contributing to this dynamic. The styling of the video is very organic and comfortable, adding to the overall mood of the video. So-jung’s makeup is minimal and natural, and in the morning scenes her hair is undone as well. The loose sweaters give a sense of wintry warmth, with their warm colors allowing So-jung to stand out from the cream furnishing in the room. Even when So-jung is dolled up in the performance scenes, her overall styling is comfy and relaxed, definitely helping in creating the relaxing ambiance.

Likewise, the plot of the music video is also condensed, only indulging in a bare necessity needed to illustrate the song’s theme of innocent and pure first love. Following So-jung’s rise from bed, she grabs an old scrapbook and remembers her past love. We are then treated with old shots of So-jung and her boyfriend in high school, enjoying their time as a couple. Only fleeting and stilled pictures are shown, showing only enough for us to infer the amity of the relationship. Considering all that could go wrong in a music video’s plot, the choice of having a minimal plot was a decision I respect. But considering the theme and the overall simplicity of a high school love, elaboration of this supposed “beautiful love” could have helped the effort a bit, helping the song deliver its message.

Many are comparing Kim So-jung’s recent release with fellow songstresses Juniel and IU. And there honestly is a fair amount of basis for comparison. All three artists share their similarly cute images, an acoustic-driven sound, and breathier, airier vocals. However, as I said in my review of Juniel’s first album, I believe there is enough distinction in their images and artistry for these artists to co-exist prosperously, appealing to their own little niche.

Overall a minimal yet refreshingly warm release, “Beautiful Love” gets a 2.9/5 from me. While simplicity rarely fails in this approach, a bit more elaboration would have done the effort more good, but nonetheless, I’m excited for what Kim So-jung has in store for the future.

Readers, what are your thoughts?

(S Mile Company, LoveKpopSubs11)