Hello everyone, and welcome back to another edition of Unsung Artists! After Qing’s recap of January tunes that may have flown under the radar, I’m here to shine a light on some deserving February tracks. Having covered so many releases this past month on Seoulbeats, I had to do some digging to find these songs, but I think you will enjoy them as much as I did.
Click the playlist below to hear all of the songs as you read!
Dash, “I See U” ft. Microdot
There’s a new R&B crooner in town! “I See U” isn’t as striking as its accompanying MV, which has caught attention for its female lead of black ancestry, and Microdot teeters on the edge of taking over the track completely; but Dash has a warm tone that I find quite soothing. There is potential here, and I’m looking forward to seeing it fully shine in future releases.
There are a couple of ballads featured lower down, and “Wi-Fi” could have fit in snugly with them… were it were not for the overt glitching and modern tech references. Yoon Jong-shin sings about the usual modern day break-up practices, like checking an ex’s social media updates; and when his voice soars into the chorus, its mutilation kicks the tension up several notches, perfectly capturing the sensation of trying to let go. It also adds a hard edge matched by the lyrics:
I’ll cut you off
I’ll cut you off right now like quitting smoking
It’s not something I can gradually stop
Look at our lives, we’ll just be nuisances to each other
Like the wi-fi on the street that you can only get out of once you move away
To celebrate her birthday, Solar released this ballad for fans. While I would have loved more of that harmonisation heard at the start, Solar’s voice is truly a joy for the ears, as she ably carries what is essentially just another typical Korean ballad. The MV is also very sentimental, showing Solar prepare the traditional seaweed soup to eat with her parents. The at-times amateurish camerawork adds authenticity, though the obvious staging does take away from it a bit.
It was graduation season in South Korea, and this quiet ballad was one such song catering to the occassion. “Graduation Picture” animates the friendship between two boys: we see their times together at school, both good (after school snacks) and bad (classroom punishments). The lyrics look back on this time fondly, but also wonder about what the future may bring:
When I’m a year older
Will loneliness come as well?
Will our distance be a little further away?
After graduation, we witness the friends’ separate paths, and eventual reconnection. The best part of the MV, though, is the ending which shows the real photos on which the animations were based, with the last “photo” being of an adult Kim Jin-ho and his childhood friend.
Soma is the new name for the former member of girl group Tahiti, Dasom. In late Februarym she released her debut solo EP, Somablu, under Stone Ship. The English-language “Pale Blue” delicately walks the line between being chill and giving chills, as saxaphones and electric guitars creep in and out to add a sinister edge to Soma’s languid vocals. The MV, featured on Vimeo, only adds to the aesthetic.
If you like what you here, I encourage you to check out the rest of Somablu, including the “Midnight in Paris” MV that was shot on location. Stone Ship also has some covers from the artist on their Facebook page.
While I loved her OTT styling for debut single “I’m Fine,” I am also loving this new chic attitude from Grace, that captured attention in “Trick Or Treat.” “Zombie High,” which reminds me of Indian filmi in the chorus, brings back more of Grace’s earlier playfulness, though in a much more manageable dose for those put off by the spectacle of “I’m Fine.”
While there is no MV proper, official audio was first released on Danal’s YouTube channel, featuring fan art that Grace herself picked from a contest she ran. A couple of weeks later, we now also have the dance version that you may have seen in the playlist above.
Lu Han, “What If I Said”
This months’s SM escapee entry is courtesy of Bambi’s human form. Interestingly enough, what I love and hate about the song is caused by the same thing — the sound. I love the music, and I completely understand why Lu Han’s vocals are processed to mesh with the synths. But come on, how can you do that to his voice!
His tone is one that I can only describe as angelic, and touching it feels like sin. What’s more, the processing is rather conventional and a bit all over the place. If you’re going to mess with a voice like that, at least go hard and try something dramatic and different, like what happens to Yoon Jong-shin’s voice in “Wi-Fi.” I had been secretly thankful that Lu Han had escaped Exo before being subjected to the torture that is “Lotto,” only for this to happen.
Oh well, at least I have “Skin to Skin,” where the processing is less excited.