20130927_seoulbeats_kyebumjoo_somethingspecialKye Bum-joo is best known for his stint on Superstar K4 where he was one of the top 12 finalists. However, he has also appeared on Show Me the Money. Combining this with his participation in the composing of Block B’s “Movie’s Over,” Bum-joo has demonstrated a wide range of talents. He debuted earlier this year with the highly underrated “The Ceiling,” a groovy, light song about waking up next to a stranger. Bum-joo returned this week with his self-produced mini-album Something Special and it is one smooth listen.

Something Special begins with intro track “Hello I’m Kye Bum-joo” that, interestingly enough, has its own music video. The track serves as an introduction to Kye Bum-joo and highlights his voice with a light piano background. The lyrics are wry, describing himself as “168 cm, under the average height, but can still sing.” It is an accurate description because Bum-joo is on the shorter side and has a lovely, melodic voice.

Next up is “2Star,” an easy listen but a bit bland. “2Star” has a formulaic structure with low-key verses, a rising bridge, and a peak chorus. While the chorus does give the song some emotional depth, it isn’t enough to distinguish it. I also wasn’t feeling Ugly Duck’s rap. His voice fit the song but his flow didn’t appeal to me. Despite my criticisms, I don’t think “2Star” is bad, just that it pales in comparison to the other songs on this album.

“Something Special” is the title track and it is a delight. I definitely recommend watching the MV solely for Block B’s P.O. who is superbly endearing as the main character.

“Something Special” starts off with a funky rhythm that immediately captures attention. The use of horns and the way Bum-joo growls “You’ve got” in the chorus add to the funk. I also think that Dok2’s rap fits in better than Ugly Duck’s from “2Star.”

While I liked the overall message of the song, certain lyrics rubbed me the wrong way. The message of the song is that even an ordinary person is special to someone else, which is a great message. However, certain lines like “Look at her, droopy eyes, short height, you are not my type” and “You don’t have a nice body, so what is it” irk me.

We’ve discussed before how prevalent beauty ideals can be harmful to regular women and while these lyrics try to point out the ‘ordinary-ness’ of the object of affection, it doesn’t actually subvert the beauty ideals. These lyrics come across in a “you’re not good enough but I still like you” way which is just plain condescending. I think a better way to pull of the same message would be to point out how the ordinary features of the girl are attractive to the singer and how they enhance her beauty.

“99%” is everything “2Star” could have been — smooth and relaxing while still maintaining its own flavor. The muted keyboard forms a repetitive beat that carries on throughout the song but never gets tiring. Part of this is due to Bum-joo’s voice; his polished voice flows naturally with the background music as if they were one entity. The background riffs and harmonization are well done and give the song depth and variation while being sure not to overtake the song completely.

The last track, “Bingle Bangle” ends Something Special with a bang. It is captivating, groovy, and all around amazing. Can you tell it’s my favorite song off the album?

“Bingle Bangle” boasts influences from the late 70’s/early 80’s and does so in such a fun way. The bass guitar and drums combine perfectly to create an infectious rhythm. Bum-joo’s voice radiates with a sultriness that I did not know he had. Volume (볼륨) was also the perfect feature for this song. They add another element of fun and they shine with the lower tone of the song. It also doesn’t hurt that their vocals are powerful and crisp and they harmonize well with each other.

Throughout Something Special, we were given hints of Bum-joo’s vocal abilities but “Bingle Bangle” is what really sold me on his voice. Before, his voice was pleasant, even melodic, but in “Bingle Bangle” his voice shined as unique instead of just ‘good.’

With Something Special, Kye Bum-joo has worked his way on to my list of artists to keep track of. He can produce, compose, and sing — well, I might add — and has a unique style that draws its influences from a wide range of genres. The mini-album as a whole is strong and even though I ragged on “2Star” a bit, it’s still better than many idols’ B-tracks. I’m glad I discovered Kye Bum-joo and I’m already anticipating his next release. More “Bingle Bangle please!”

Score: 4/5

(LOEN ENT, YouTube [1], [2])