Considering how long Monsta X has been around, it’s surprising main vocalist Kihyun is only now making his solo debut. Of course, his mini album, Voyager, and title track of the same name definitely do not disappoint, showcasing his wide range of vocals. The title track, “Voyager”, allows Kihyun to explore the pop rock genre with its catchy beats and groovy melody, and, in some way, is a very honest and liberating form of self-expression that provides the listener with the same cathartic feeling that Kihyun vocalises both lyrically and melodically.

Feeling like a voyager, I’m free

The relaxation of my red-hot life

I can feel the fluster I’ve been forgetting

The paradise I’ve been dreaming: so beautiful

The chorus gives us a burst of energy with the line, “Feeling like a voyager, I’m free”, and combined with shots of Kihyun running or driving around in an open space, or jamming out with his band, it creates the feeling of emancipation and liberation. Freedom is the running theme throughout the entire MV, and it is always a pleasure to see an artist having fun with their music and simply enjoy performing. 

The song is fast-paced and catchy. The MV follows suit; we get many cuts to different scenes, with the camera panning quickly from one angle to the other. It also has a nice mix of black and white shots with coloured shots, giving the MV a slick and classy atmosphere. Although this does get the blood pumping and allows the listener to be more alert as to what is happening on screen, it did feel overwhelming at times. I found my eyes glazing over the scenes as opposed to paying attention to what is happening. The MV is not exactly the most exciting MV either–it’s good, and it has some really aesthetically pleasing shots, but it does not have a moment that really awes the viewer.

The overall viewing experience is not affected by the lack of a ‘wow’ factor. After all, the purpose of the MV is to showcase Kihyun as a soloist and allow him to convey the type of music and emotions he wishes to pursue to the audience. The celebrity-type shots such as images of him on magazines, or him being followed by paparazzi are certainly entertaining. It is always fun to see artists embrace the fact that they are relatively well-known in the industry, and lean into the glamour of it all.

It is worth noting majority of the shots of him surrounded by people are in black and white, or the colours are desaturated as opposed to when we see Kihyun alone, or jamming out with his band where the colours become more vibrant. This may imply the happiness and feeling of freedom he feels when he is allowed to express himself however he likes. The fun and bright colours add to the song’s association with liberation, and the overall MV is still fun to watch.

Although pop rock has been pretty prominent in the Korean music industry as of late, particularly with the rise of bands, Kihyun manages to distinguish his music by drawing from Western influences. He takes on a grittier sound, combined with a funk-rock beat, and it is reminiscent of Western artists like Maroon 5, OneRepublic, and DNCE. No matter how many times this happens, seeing a member of a group become a soloist and explore their musical interests is constantly a joy to watch.

Considering the fact MonstaX has always had a distinct sound filled with an abundance of twists and turns in their melodies, each member’s solo debut is highly anticipated to see how they distinguish themselves from the group as a whole. For Kihyun, even though one may expect a main vocalist to debut with a heartwrenching ballad like Day6’s Wonpil or Super Junior’s Sungmin, he delves into pop rock and adds his take on the genre. He’s created a fun, fresh beat and welcomes the spring season with a bang, and it motivates the listener to be free to take on the upcoming year.

The other two songs on Kihyun album, Voyager, further explores his range and diversity as a vocalist, and is definitely worth checking out. Kihyun’s debut as a soloist is definitely a success, and we are looking forward to what he puts out next.

YouTube; Lyrics and Images via Starship Entertainment