It is hard to try and summarise the album music of someone like Yoon Mi-rae who has had such a long career into a few songs. Her solo career in music started in 2001 and since then she has released about five albums, the most recent one, Gemini 2 coming out this year. There is so much to choose from. So in order to narrow it down, I have decided to have this list feature the songs that are the best at displaying something in every Yoon Mi-rae song, soul. It is this emotional depth, passion and richness that has been poured into these songs, making them so resonant.
“Black Diamond” makes for a big and bold start to her 2007 self-titled album. It immediately grabs your attention with loud drums and an announcement which calls her both the queen and the black diamond. After this, you get a song that weaves together slower, blissful verses with a belter of a chorus. The one thing that I really love about it is the passion that is so palpable in this song. The passion is in part due to the layers of vocals and instrumentation that builds up over the verses and then kind of explode in the chorus. The passion also comes through in her voice particularly in the chorus where you can feel that she is giving her all.
One of the best qualities in Yoon Mi-rae’s music is the way that she is able to capture the struggles and difficulties of life so well in her songs and “Meditation” is perhaps the best example of this. The refrain “looks like another rainy day” which is sung throughout most of the day brilliantly sums up the mundanity and the often boring nature of everyday life. “Meditation” also has the same beats on repeat throughout the song as if to emphasise this point. Over the beats and the refrain, Yoon Mi-rae raps about the stories of people’s difficulties in life and it is interesting how these stories are not in any way refined but rather frank. It gives the song a greater emotional depth as it feels so much realistic with its refusal to shield the listener from the pain.
Throughout her music career, both as a soloist and in the group, MFTBY, Yoon Mi-rae has been great at making songs saturated with pure joy. Two of these songs are “Pay Day” from her 2007 album and ”Namja Namja Namja” from her first Gemini album. They both feel fully celebratory and quite overwhelming with multiple instruments, sounds, and vocals that are featured, creating a party-like atmosphere. Both songs also come off as relatable like everyone should be part of the joy. In “Namja Namja Namja”, Yoon Mi-rae says “all together” at many points and shouts out dance moves which recall the style of many memorable dance songs that feature heavily at many special occasions. With “Pay Day”, the song has a chorus that almost any worker would relate to about the relief and happiness that payday can bring.
For me, “Peach” is the standout song of Yoon Mi-rae’s most recent album, Gemini 2. It is a summer fever dream; to listen to the song is to fully immerse yourself in an out-of-this-world sonic wonderland. Also, it is lyrically defined by this rare vulnerability, maturity, and sensuality that fits perfectly with the dreamy sonic experience that this song is. All in all, “Peach” is a gorgeous song that you can listen to again and again, just really to enter a state of complete relaxation.
Of course with Yoon Mi-rae, there are so many more great songs from her to listen to. Any Yoon Mi-rae B-sides that you adore? Share them in the comments!
(Images via FeelGhood Music)