2018 was likely a busy year for T-ara’s Jiyeon. In January, Jiyeon exited her agency of ten years, MBK Entertainment (formerly known as Core Contents Media), alongside the rest of the remaining T-ara members. In November, Jiyeon signed to Chinese label Longzhen Culture in May, and to Korean label Partners Park. And in December, Jiyeon released her first non-OST solo single, “One Day,” in four years.
The MV for “One Day” is simple and sparse like the piano notes that it begins with. The video consists mostly of Jiyeon sitting and singing directly to the camera while surrounded by plants. Interestingly, all of the plants are green despite Jiyeon’s wardrobe—and lyrics—indicating that it is winter outside.
When not singing to the camera, Jiyeon alternates between taking sips of a hot drink, staring at the dark outside from a window, and slowly pacing around room with a beautifully tiled wall, pausing to trail her hand across its interiors.
The video is swathed in shades of browns and yellows, hazy shots, and crossfades. All of these elements combine to form an MV that evokes warmth to contrast against the cold season outside. The simplicity of the video persuades the watcher to focus on the song rather than the sights.
While the MV is pleasant at first glance, the watcher eventually wishes that it had a few more touches of personality. Everybody sips hot drinks and takes in textures; perhaps Jiyeon people-watches couples at cafes? Maybe Jiyeon constantly reads romantic manhwas? Or perhaps she collects heart memorabilia? Any one of these shots could have injected originality into the “One Day” MV, which is sorely lacking from it.
“One Day,” is meant to be a gift from Jiyeon to her fans. Like many songs meant for fans—à la Twice‘s “One in a Million,” Seventeen‘s “Healing,” and Shinee‘s “An Ode to You,” —”One Day” seems like a love letter directed to one person on first listen.
Sweet, sparse piano notes build up to a steady melody interspersed with tinges of guitar, cymbals, and snaps. Layered over this melody is Jiyeon’s silvery voice musing about the winter and the warm intimacy she wants to experience with her lover in this season “one day.”
Someday, one day, every day
You come to me like a dream
And kiss me
Gently hold me in your warm arms
I’ll wait for you like the white snowflakes, I love you
On the day always with you
Jiyeon’s voice is, as expected after her ten-year tenure in the K-pop industry, stable and soulful. The instrumental complements her voice well, and at no point does she sound breathy or seem to be stretching to reach notes, but therein lies the catch—”One Day” is too comfortable.
Despite this being Jiyeon’s first non-OST solo song in four years—her last solo song was 2014’s “Never Ever (1 Minute 1 Second)” from her debut EP, Never Ever—this song sounds exactly like an OST single. A good OST, but formulaic nevertheless.
This is to be expected—most love-letters to fans and singles released in winter months tend to be ballads. Also, given that this is Jiyeon’s first release with her new label after ending a less-than-ideal relationship with her former label, it makes sense for her to go with a sound that she is familiar with.
However, Jiyeon is not promoting “One Day.” This gives her an opportunity to poke and play around with pitches and harmonies; an opportunity she did not take.
There is nothing inherently wrong with choosing a safe sound. However, in an industry full of artists whose concepts inevitably overlap at times, it is important to make the concept one’s own. This is where Jiyeon falls short.
Both the “One Day” video and its song are simple. Simple doesn’t have to equal uninteresting—G-Dragon proved with “Untitled”—but in Jiyeon’s case it does. This is because neither her visuals nor her aurals —as pleasant as they are— say or show anything different that only Jiyeon can do; neither of them reveal more about Jiyeon or her growth as an artist.
Jiyeon has survived nearly a decade in the tumultous industry of K-Pop as a member of an oft-controversial girl group—she had to modify the choreography for her debut song because it was considered provocative— it would be surprising if she hasn’t grown. It is frustrating then that she would return with a safe, sanitized sound stripped of any traces of her.
“One Day” pairs a sweet, simple melody with an even simpler MV to deliver a song that is pleasant to listen to but ultimately comes off as perfunctory and plain. Here’s hoping Jiyeon pushes the limit a little “one day” in the next year.