20160516_seoulbeats_jessicajung_fly_4About a year and a half ago, Jessica Jung was dropped from the SNSD line up. It was one of the most shocking news stories to come out of the tumultuous 2014 year of K-pop. Since then, Jessica has been keeping busy running her business, Blanc & Eclare, and she has been in and out of the studio working on new music. We finally get a taste of how her music and image has changed as Jessica revels in her freedom with her latest song and MV for “Fly.”

Leading up to “Fly,” the teasers have been hit or miss. It was rocky at the start as Coridel Entertainment dropped a poorly edited teaser (or two), but ultimately the last week ramping up to the MV’s release has been solid – with images and MV snippets building anticipation for what has honestly been a long time in the making. Adding to the hype — in one way or another — was also the fact that With Love, J would drop in close proximity to her former groupmate Tiffany’s own solo debut I Just Wanna Dance, but more on that later.

“Fly” is a pop song driven by piano and some synth elements. The composition is simplistic and not revolutionary, but it works well for what it is and is complementary for Jessica’s voice. Her voice shines in this release. It has always had this great clear tone to it, and her glorious little adlibs pepper the song with lovely layers. There is an emotion that comes through beautifully in parts of the song. My favorite moment would be the bridge leading up to Fabolous’ rap. The texture is gorgeous and effectively added an intriguing and differing level to the song. Fabolous’ rap was also a solid addition, as his lyrics fit nicely with the uplifting tone of “Fly.”

“You should’ve never doubted yourself,

Matter of fact, You should be proud of yourself

‘Cause you had to find a way to go about it yourself.”

The remaining lyrics for “Fly” express this idea of chasing your dreams and not being held down by self-doubt. It is encouraging and extremely positive. There are undertones of adversity, but the main message is about enduring and believing in yourself to reach your dreams. It might be slightly saccharine for my taste, but I’m not going to knock the song for its positive message.

20160516_seoulbeats_jessicajung_fly_3The MV is well put together. The video is set at Salvation Mountain, located in Southern California. The video uses the actual painted mountain, a bathtub sitting in the sands of the nearby desert, and a house located in the desert terrain as the three main settings. There is a lot of symbolism in this MV and this particular desert location, near and at Salvation Mountain, anchors the video as this simultaneously humdrum yet fantastical reference point.

The story begins with Jessica being stuck in the desert while aspiring to venture to other parts of the world. She receives post cards from someone (perhaps her sister, Krystal) and this reignites her desire to explore this snowy locale that she sees on the postcard and snow globe. Jessica receives packages with jackets and scarves, which are great for much colder areas, and also imagines having marshmallows by a campfire while watching the Aurora Borealis. These post cards are markers of Jessica’s fascination with the world and represent an ambition that hasn’t been reached.

The MV has a playful and slightly motivational tone as Jessica starts to reimagine her world. Mountains and trees reveal themselves to her in rainbow colors. A cheetah figurine ends up being a makeshift reindeer. As she tosses fake snow into the air, she expresses frustration with these placeholder items. She has fear — fear of leaving the comfort of her bed and house. She overcomes this and packs up her things– and despite a slight trip up — she journeys towards accomplishing her dream.

20160516_seoulbeats_jessicajung_fly_2Jessica’s return to the music scene is a welcome one. Her debut continues this trend of soloists who are gaining more control over their music. Jessica wrote the lyrics and took part in the composition for “Fly” along with a majority of her mini-album. I honestly feel like this is the most emotionally connected she’s been with music she’s sung. There is an honesty in her singing, and “Fly” as the vehicle for her honesty is wonderful as it carries with it an uplifting message.

As for the timing of both Jessica and Tiffany’s releases: while this situation can lead to comparisons or conversations about a budding rivalry, Jessica stated in an interview that both artists have different styles. Jessica was encouraging of her former member’s solo promotions and continues this positive perspective. True to the narrative of finding new meaning in freedom, there is a positive redemption to be found in Jessica’s story where she can finally spread her metaphorical wings to soar, despite hardships she’s faced in the past.

Jessica is charming in “Fly.” She doesn’t try to force an image that she isn’t comfortable with nor does she play around with any random concept. Jessica embraces her authenticity with “Fly.” She lives in her truth, and furthermore, she wants her music to connect with her listeners on a deeper level. While the song is not revolutionary nor may it be everyone’s cup of tea, Jessica does stick to her strengths. With valiance and a genuine heart to it, Jessica’s “Fly” has revealed her grace under fire and shows her rising above it.

Overall Rating: 4/5

(Images via Coridel Entertainment, YouTube, Naver, Translated Lyrics via Pop!gasa)