Comebacks of second-generation idols continue with ballad group 2AM returning with a mini-album entitled Ballad 21 F/W. The mini-album marks their return as a group after seven years since their third studio album “Let’s Talk” in 2014. Since their departure from JYP Entertainment in 2015, the members signed separately in different agencies but have always been positive about reuniting. With Ballad 21 F/W, 2AM bring their signature emotionality fitting for the seasons.
Leading the album are double title tracks “Should’ve Known” and “No Good in Goodbye” produced by Hybe Label’s Bang Si Hyuk and JYP Entertainment’s Park Jin Young respectively. Both producers have shared histories with 2AM. Bang Si Hyuk produced and compose songs for their first studio album “Saint o’Clock” in 2010 with the well-loved “You Wouldn’t Answer My Calls”. Changmin was also a member of project duo Homme with 8Eight’s Lee Hyun under the formerly known Big Hit Entertainment. 2AM originally debuted under JYP Entertainment along with their brother group 2PM. Having these two producers, it is expected that they would bring out the group’s musical color extremely well.
“Should’ve Known” opens softly with a piano and Jinwoon’s soft vocals. The song gradually builds up with the addition of an acoustic guitar and the soft drum and Seulong and Changmin’s harmonization during the bridge. Instead of connecting the music as one phrase though, the instrumentation disappears—leaving a sound as if a beating heart—before Jo Kwon sings the high notes in the chorus.
“No Good in Goodbye” is reminiscent of their heartwrenching single, “Even If I Die I Can’t Let You Go,” as it follows almost the same arrangement. In their guesting in IU’s talk show, “Palette”, the members suggested watching both music videos to understand the narrative.
“Should’ve Known” and “No Good in Goodbye” are like two sides of the same coin both musically and lyrically. The former, as depicted from Kim So-hyun’s perspective, expresses the regret of letting go of that special someone after realizing his worth.
After I let you go
I’m crying like this
Only after I cried
I realized what was truly precious
Now I’m regretting it
Like a fool
But can’t we turn things back just once?
On the other hand, “No Good in Goodbye”, speaks from the point of view of the other person, in this case, 2PM’s Kim Jun-ho. Break-ups are never easy, especially when everything seems to be fine. The lyrics express a sense of disbelief and desperation, begging the other person not to leave.
Good bye? How can I leave you and go?
Have a good life? How can I, without you?
You know how I’ll be without you
I can’t say good bye and I can’t have a good life
So please don’t do this
Sadly, the story leads to heartbreak. In the third track, “I Can’t”, 2AM sings of their struggle of forgetting the memories they shared with the one they loved. Accompanied with piano trills, the sound mimics the sound of falling tears. The constant use of “woo” as an adlib makes an emphasis on crying as well.
Eventually, things will get better. Penned by Jinwoon, the lyrics express hope and healing while still dealing with the pain of a break-up. The music also takes an upward turn as it is the only rock ballad with a fast tempo. The highlight this time is the electric guitar that switches from alternate picking to strumming in the chorus. The song brings a sense of refreshment and a welcome change from 2AM’s usual sound.
With “Propose”, 2AM ends on a happy note. Out of all the tracks, this brings the most nostalgia as the arrangement reminds us of the ballads between the 90s and early 2000s. It’s a tearful happy ending, especially after spending time apart and letting destiny do its magic.
For many people, the seasons of fall and winter bring about sentimentalism and nostalgia. Both seasons evoke a feeling of loss and the need for warmth. Ballad 21 F/W is a collection of ballads that make who up 2AM are. Their songs possess a unique ability to stir emotions and bring about the beauty of ballads and narratives combined.