It has been almost one year since Kim Donghan’s solo debut and the young soloist has already established the ideal musical identity for himself. Starting with his time with the concept group JBJ, Donghan stood out with his alluring gaze, and as a soloist he has used that to his advantage by capturing the stage. His music is catchy, and the narratives play off of his charming visuals to create the sexy concept Donghan is going for. And boy, does this boy know how to charm a stage.
Donghan’s release schedule is starting to mimic Produce 101’s very first soloist, Chungha, and her strategy of two releases per year, one complimenting the summer and the other focused on a darker theme for the fall/winter. Donghan’s debut mini-album D-Day, released in June, captured the themes of excitement of being with his lover as if every day was their first day–their “D-Day”–and made for a perfect soundtrack for a summer fling. His second release D-Night, released in October, conveyed relationship themes of the evening–dreams, moonlight, being tipsy, and so on. This latest release, D-Hours AM 7:03, seems to follow the same theme formula by relating his relationship to the wakening hours of the morning and the ability to focus with a clear mind. Donghan must be a morning person.
Like a gentle alarm, the first track “Bebe” is a smooth melody riding on the neo-jazz genre. The beats imitate a bass instrument in the intro and Donghan’s electrified voice snaps in with a “1,2, let’s go.” This song is fitting for a lounge stage. Where the chorus picks up and the vocals back up the “You”, I can image Donghan doing some kind of intricate standing microphone dance move and ending the song with a fedora hat flip. The smoothness of the song replicates Donghan’s slow intoxication of his lover and he becomes entranced by her.
The title track, “Focus” opens up with a modernized rooster crow. “Focus” is an extremely fun, upbeat and catchy track that is made to make its listener dance against their will. (Confession: Ever since its drop I have had this on constant repeat, dancing my days away). Donghan mentioned his participation in creating his choreography, and in his live stages you can see the pure enjoyment in the young soloist’s face, which makes this song even more enjoyable. The musical composition is a great balance of the verses keeping a steady tempo, and the refrain speeding up but slowing down just in time for the chorus to drop.
Under the moonlight, Feel us
Focused on you
NaNaNa This time
Everything is all in with you now
NaNaNa is perfect, now now
“You Make Me So Crazy” is a combination of the best of both worlds from “Bebe” and “Focus”. It is an upbeat lounge track complete with snap along verses and instrumental heavy chorus. Donghan is unable to stop his focus on his lover, therefore, by overtaking his mind, she is making him crazy.
It gets clearer as I see you, my heart is in danger too (It’s dangerous, It’s dangerous)
The next track, “Everyday, Everyday” is the obligatory ballad track to every album release. “Everyday, Everyday” has a light piano melody accompanied by an acoustic guitar’s strums. This song’s narrative doesn’t fit the other songs on this mini-album, unless the first three tracks are about Donghan’s obsession for a woman he can’t have. “Everyday, Everyday” is a heartbreaking song about loving a woman who loves another and Donghan’s dedication to be with her even if she doesn’t look at him (sound like a Korean Drama, anyone?). Donghan begins the song about his fears and loving this woman’s smile. One particular line clues us in to this drama, showing his need to keep his emotions hidden by viewing himself as an outsider to his relationship:
Sometimes I have no answer, I do not know where he went
The mini album comes to a close with the relaxed track of “Idea”. Introduced by a guitar riff, the instrumentals are then accompanied about 30 seconds in with modern vocal sounds, snaps and beats. This track is very on-trend with inserts of tongue rolls and a very EDM inspired chorus. Donghan tells his lover she is his “idea” as in “ideal woman”. It is a question often asked to idols on variety shows of who is their ideal woman or man type, perhaps a girl who is lively and eats well. For Donghan, it is this one woman who is the center of his focus and who is perfect the way she is.
Notably, Donghan participated in writing the lyrics for most of the songs of this mini and worked closely with producer group, Mospick (known for producing most of Cube Entertainment’s work). The lyrical content is extremely generic, scratching only the surface of the captivating emotion of love and the compositions rides heavily on trends. But that does not mean it doesn’t work, as D-Hours AM 7:03 is another perfect summer soundtrack with easy to listen and fun danceable tracks. It works with all of Donghan’s strengths, looks, vocal, and performance wise. With this mini, Donghan is successfully keeping all the “focus” on him.