Seo In-young, former main songstress of idol group Jewelry, has recently released her new single “Anymore.” My first experience with Seo In-young was through her variety appearance in SBS‘s Heroes and later her endearing stint in We Got Married with Crown J, where I subsequently fell in love with her hot tempered antics and her refusal to keep her true personality from being silenced under a camera, for better or for worse. But when it came to her music at the time, I just couldn’t be as charmed.
Ever since going solo, Seo In-young’s following singles ended up being hook-reliant electropop tunes that I just couldn’t get into. It’s not that these tunes were particularly bad per se — most were fairly catchy mindless fun and some actually managed to add some sass to the repetitive electropop formula, but they ended up being too redundant and gimmicky for my liking, not standing out with the competition in the market either. Not only that, but they were also betraying Seo In-young’s talent; she has a very pleasant, husky set of pipes in her that I wish she applied in her lead material. So it’s needless to be said that I preferred her ballads and older work with Jewelry more, as it better utilized her voice.
That is, until this single. For her recent return, gone are the gimmicky dances and the nonsensical hooks (and unfortunately, her trademark heels too, but that’s a fair price to temporarily pay), as “Anymore” finally, and thankfully, gives much justice to Seo In-young, now self-managed following the expiration of her contract with former company Star Empire. And it looks like I’m not the only one loving her return; Seo In-young was topping the charts with the song, even dethroning Psy‘s now-legendary “Gangnam Style.”
The song itself is still electropop, the field Seo In-young seems most comfortable at. But unlike her previous songs though, the production of the song is much cleaner and simpler, free from any complications that could end up detracting from the song. Composed beautifully by Kush, a light piano loop and stable drum beat along with some clean synths make the entirety of the instrumental of the song, creating a straightforward yet highly enjoyable listen. The track is quiet when it needs to be and more impactful on other moments, with its key parts being transitioned amazingly with some great and meaningful build-up.
The simplicity of the track is what makes it shine, as it allows Seo In-young’s rich vocal work to be highlighted. She sounds absolutely wonderful in the track, her tone matching the bittersweet yet optimistic nature of the song’s theme. Even if she did seem to be struggling with the high notes at certain moments (namely the chorus), she managed to sell the song’s meaning quite well, and she still deserves praise for finally challenging herself vocally.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCQdcqAZXPE&w=560&h=315]
The music video is similarly something Seo In-young hasn’t done before. Her sense of style is still as present as ever, but it comes with a bit more meaning this time. The song is an optimistic one with Seo In-young talking about a past relationship and all of the mistakes revolving around the relationship, but she’s still wishing her former lover the best with his future. Considering the song’s lyrics, it could be interpreted that the scenes in the messy, albeit very colorful, rooms depict Seo In-young in the present, somewhat depressively trying to dismiss her former habits and moving on with her life. When she’s looking into the peephole, it could be seen as her looking back at her former self. In those scenes, she’s stuck in a very white hallway looking for a way to escape, symbolic of her trying to escape her claustrophobic former relationship at the time.
The visuals in the video are very striking, with the high-contrast filter the video is filmed under only intensifying the colors further. The rooms contain very quirky and fun, yet at the same time, misplaced visuals between the detached carousel horse, the life-sized polar bear, and the abundance of neon blue feathers. The striking visuals only make the difference between the very colorful rooms and the monochrome and unfurnished hallway all the more jarring and meaningful, implying a message that even if her life is more complicated now, it’s still more colorful and thus more satisfying than before. Even a clear difference in styling can be seen; while Seo In-young outfits and even hair look much more vibrant when she’s inside the rooms, her outfitting in the hallway is dominantly black, with even her hair looking darker.
The song’s lyrics are written with a very honest tone, and both the video and Seo In-young do good jobs at following the words of song. The intro verse is much more depressed and reminiscent, and consequently, the visuals are much more subdued, the room much darker, and Seo In-young more dreary. The second verse, one of the song’s most optimistic points, is considerably brighter, with Seo In-young’s believable bittersweet smile fitting perfectly with the context of the song at the moment. The entire video culminates to its climax following the bridge where the content of the rooms explode into the hallway, symbolically freeing Seo In-young from her torment.
All in all, “Anymore” is a wonderful release for Seo In-young. Both the straightforward song and the artsy music video deserve praise, and it’s a marvelous step up for Seo In-young, to the point where it’s a clear shame that she isn’t promoting it as I would have loved to see her perform the song live. Even with the plot aside, the music video presented some gorgeous visuals, creative camerawork, and wise editing. Seo In-young looked great as well, her fashion still as interesting as ever. Her blonde hair worried me a bit at first when I first saw the teasers, but she rocks it confidently in the music video. Overall, I’m very pleased with what Seo In-young had to offer with this comeback.
Ultimately, I give “Anymore” a 4.5/5 for finally giving Seo In-young some justice she needed. I hope she’ll continue pursuing this sound and image for her upcoming album this September since she looked and sounded great with it. What do you think Seoulmates? Did you enjoy “Anymore” as much as I did? Or is Seo In-young still not your cup of tea? Make sure to leave your thoughts below!