Ballad singer Jung Seung Hwan makes a wintery return with his single album My Christmas Wish, which consists of a title track of the same name as well as a self-written track “Hello, goodbye winter”. Both tracks are emotional ballads that are perfect for the season, and wonderfully showcase Jung’s warm voice.

“My Christmas Wish” features lyrics by IU, and was composed by Jae-hwi, a powerful collaboration that happened last December for Jung’s “The Snowman”, which also had considerable success on the music charts. Similarly, “My Christmas Wish”, with its wistful lyrics and charming melody, is a lovely release, matched with an artistic music video by VISUALSFROM.

The lyrics speak of comparing memories with a past lover to the winter season, filled with transience and sadness that just makes you want to curl up. Longing is mixed with the frustration of missed opportunities, and an endless string of “If only”s that hinder the progress of this particular couple. In its bridge, however, there is a change of perspective as the protagonist finally gathers up his Christmas courage. There is no more waiting for that perfect day, today is beautiful enough for that Christmas confession to be made, even though it is not snowing and is such an ordinary day.

Even though it’s not snowing, it’s beautiful enough
It’s an ordinary day, that’s why I want to remember it more

This story is portrayed through both the song as well as the MV. In terms of instrumentation, there is a gradual build-up towards that emotional outburst in the bridge, and the clear contrast between the quiet opening of the song to that almost-triumphant part of the song is stunning. Jung’s soft, tender but strong voice works well with this composition and his amazing voice control is evident here.

In the MV, this contrast is highlighted through the use of repetition, where certain iconic scenes were deliberately repeated to show how the protagonist’s (played by Jung himself) reaction has changed. For instance, the shots of snow softly falling outside a particular cafe, and of the two main characters walking side by side, play both at the beginning of the MV and towards its end, after the bridge of the song. Rather than sitting in the cafe and bidding his time, as he did for most of the MV, the protagonist finally decides to confess and begins to run towards his lover, ending the MV on a hopeful note. The scene becomes sweeter when paired with the final lyrics of the song, “my winter, please be all my seasons”, which makes such a simple but earnest confession.

The MV takes place mostly in an aesthetic cafe, interspersed with artistic shots of coffee making and film developing. Its outdoor scenes are also scenic and beautiful, capturing the very best of the winter season. The warm glow underlying the entire MV adds nostalgia and coziness to the ballad, conveying the same hope that its lyrics have.

On the surface, this MV seems boring, with nothing much apart from cafe scenes and walks by the ocean. Its simplicity is fitting, however. Beyond the grandeur that Christmas and Christmas confessions seem to have, magic actually comes from the mundane, everyday moments of companionship that the two lovers spend together. The lyrics describe these precious moments poignantly as well, with simple events like sitting together on the bus taking on extra significance when love comes into the picture. The protagonist comes to a similar conclusion as he develops his film, realising that what he has been capturing are the small moments of bliss that they have had together — of her at work, of them taking a walk together, of the winter they have shared. When he finally begins to run to his lover, it is these photographs (and memories) that he brings along with him.

Jung Seung Hwan never disappoints, and “My Christmas Wish” is no exception. The return of this successful composer-lyricist-singer trio is a pleasant surprise, and I can only hope for more of these collaborations. IU’s lyrics are always so masterfully written, and she manages to elevate the smallest parts of daily life into something so magical and significant, as evidenced by this song. To Jung’s credit, he has an innate ability to internalise the music and lyrics of each song he sings and make it his own, complete with his raw emotions and personal stories. He has been displaying this since his K-pop Star days, and continues to do it now. As a balladeer and a singer-songwriter, he shows immense potential and I cannot wait to see what he will do next.

(Youtube. Images via Antenna Music. Lyrics via iLyricsBuzz.)