The Queen is back! Yoon Mi-rae constantly reminds us of her talents, and this year was no exception. We’ve been graced with the magic that was Wondaland (with MFBTY, who we interviewed earlier this year), heard her voice in drama OSTs for Who Are You: School 2015, seen her rap about Seoul in a collaboration project with Heineken and heard her cheer for the Hanwha Eagles. Thankfully, Yoon Mi-rae didn’t stop there, and on December 13th returned with her first solo single in years, the beautiful ballad “This Love.”
It almost feels unnecessary to state that Yoon Mi-rae is one of the most (multi) talented artists in the game; she can rap, co-produce, and sing. Not only is she able to do all these things, she excels at all of them. She’s been in the industry a long time, and in that time she has managed to stay true to herself, combat industry prejudices, manage her private life and — most importantly — she still continues to grow as an artist. This is no more clear than in “This Love.”
“This Love” begins as an understated ballad, simple piano keys accompany the intro before Yoon Mi-rae’s nearly raw vocals kick in and she begins to question her lost love.
Look back and stop, shake head
Our insecure love seems to be wrong
Like those times
Smile and hug me my love
The song builds as Yoon Mi-rae’s vocals are joined by acoustic guitar, violins, a swooping orchestra, and eventually small touches of electric guitar in the climax. “This Love” centers around realizing that perhaps a relationship has run its course, and all the happy memories are only in the past. That perhaps it’s time to let go, even if you can’t imagine no longer loving someone. The instrumentals play perfectly in the narrative, while also never overwhelming Yoon Mi-rae’s vocal delivery (though I could have done without the electric guitar, it’s a bit dated).
If today passes, that’s all for me
I’m worn out
Don’t forget those countless memories
Yoon Mi-rae’s ability to emote vocally is remarkable. Her voice is sweet and breathy when she talks about the happy moments, weaker when she discusses the pain. Then, at exactly the right moments she belts out every ounce of feeling she has in her body. The vocal dynamics are wonderful, appropriate and allow what could have been a standard ballad to become something incredibly emotionally stirring.
What I love most about the production of “This Love” is that little processing was done to Yoon Mi-rae’s vocals; you can hear the scratches in the lower notes, subtle vibrato, small intakes of breath. She feels and sounds close, not drowned in instrumentals or editing. Not only does the stand-offish approach to vocal post-production help make clear her raw talent, but it enhances the emotion of the track tenfold. “This Love” — powered by Yoon Mi-rae’s vocals — overflows with genuineness, with pure feeling, and it doesn’t need fancy production effects to resonate.
The MV, much like the track, is also solely focused on Yoon Mi-rae. After all the colorful explosions and randomness of “Bang Diggy Bang Bang,” it’s a little refreshing to see just Yoon Mi-rae without any distractions. Well, without many distractions.
The MV is plotless, and centers around Yoon Mi-rae in a variety of stylings. It’s not an exaggeration to say that every few seconds she’s featured in a different outfit, wig and set. She stands still for the majority of the video, so the quick cuts make sense to keep the visuals interesting. Though, I will admit, it does get a little boring to watch her rotate clockwise for three minutes — no matter how interesting the outfits are. (Like, what was that orange wig?)
Giving Yoon Mi-rae and her creative team some credit, I don’t think the intention was for the MV to look like an evening gown video catalogue. “This Love” is all about change and the unchanging. As such, it’s fitting to see Yoon Mi-rae in a variety of styles, morphing through the entire video. Life will go on, things will change, she will change — but this love has left a permanent mark. I also think it’s no coincidence that she’s rotating clock-wise, as it’s another small reference to the passing of time.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think “This Love” almost has a stronger impact without visuals. However, I won’t complain about watching the beautiful Yoon Mi-rae shine on her own for three minutes.
As someone who tends to stay away from ballads, “This Love” caught me off guard with how quickly I fell into it. Yoon Mi-rae is magnetic and immensely talented, and through my first few listens, I teared up more than once. That’s the thing about ballads — they aren’t necessarily the types of songs that get stuck in your head — but when they’re done well, the emotions they convey stick with you.
I think netizens were quite correct in pointing out that Yoon Mi-rae and her songs are timeless. “This Love” is the kind of track that will resonate with feeling a decade from now, long after many “trendy” bops have come and gone.
(YouTube. Images via 1theK.)