January 12th, 2015, SM Entertainment released Kim Jong-hyun’s first solo EP entitled “The 1st Mini Album ‘BASE'”, following a brief two weeks of promotion, including the release of…
an album teaser:
a music video teaser:
an album highlight:
and official music video for the title song (“Crazy (Guilty Pleasure)” ft. Iron, lead single):
As well as his multiple live and “showcase” performances:
“Crazy (Guilty Pleasure” ft. Iron (@ Music Core 20150110):
“Déjà-Boo” ft. Zion. T (@Showcase Stage @SMTOWN THEATRE):
“Hallelujah” (@ Music Core 20150207):
Plus, the annual dance practice video (for the fans):
And finally, an Mnet exclusive music video for ‘BASE’ track # 8 (Hidden Track) “Fortune Cookie” (only available on physical editions of the album):
Personally, I’m a huge SHINee fan so of course I was ecstatic upon hearing the news of Jonghyun’s (my bias, or favorite member of the group) solo-debut. Especially after discovering the blatantly apparent similarities between Jonghyun’s ‘BASE’ and other SHINee member, Taemin’s ‘ACE’; conceptually; leading one to ponder if every member (all five) of the group will at some-point in the next year or two, release a solo mini album as well. (My money is on Minho, just because I want to hear him sing more in a higher-register and carry something on his own for once, as I know he can.)
Upon listening to the album however, the two (‘ACE’ and ‘BASE’) are anything but similar, both complete separate workings of the artists’ themselves. ‘BASE’ as a whole is very much so Jonghyun’s style and preference, rooted in R&B primarily but with elements of pop, rock and dance. The opening track for the mini-album “Déjà-Boo” ft. Zion. T, was my favorite upon first-listening and still is, specifically the spoken words thrown in occasionally by Jonghyun and Zion. T (as I later found out after watching the Showcase performance), which are very playfully but also impactful as the instrumentation pauses after Jonghyun’s “Stop it!” and then picks right back up after his “Play!” Altogether, a very playful track showcasing Jonghyun’s “sing-song-y” vocals as well as Zion. T’s swift and quick-witted word play (including a little back-and-forth between the two idols over the bridge). Supported by dance-y synths and simplistic beats, the song is very throwback-esque (old school) as well as being very innovative and almost futuristic (blending the old with elements of the “new” or current).
The title song and second track on the album, “Crazy (Guilty Pleasure)” ft. Iron is quite opposite of the happy and upbeat “Déjà-Boo” and a lot darker and dramatic. Jonghyun seems to be almost pleading at points, his vocals very emotional and expressive sliding between his upper and medium register quite effortlessly at points while Iron seems to be spitting venom into the mic, his vocals very assertive and strong. The instrumental is also quite dramatic lead by a simple piano rift but backed by pounding drums and a rift-y bass with some light string work. Another personal favorite of mine, this song is a very different taste of Jonghyun and K-POP in general, which is ever-changing and expanding it seems nowadays.
Track #3 is probably my favorite from the album, it’s called “Hallelujah”. Constructively, “Hallelujah” is a mid-tempo R&B power ballad with some soft rock elements. So far, “Hallelujah” is the only track co-written on the entire mini album, the others being solely composed by Jonghyun, himself. The song itself starts off slow with a progressive kick-drum-like beat, driven by an encompassing piano rift before expanding into a beautiful and explosive chorus, showcasing Jonghyun’s powerhouse vocals with rhythmic synths and a backing choir. Definitely worth a listen.
The 4th track on the album, “Love Belt” ft. YounHa is a sweet love song duet between Jonghyun and Go YounHa backed with a simple but enjoyable R&B inspired instrumentation as well as occasional bells and again, strings, coming in during the chorus and bridge. Track No. 5 on the album, “NEON” is very upbeat and cheery again with bells, claps and even what sounds to be an entire band (possibly South High’s very own?), but does seem to fall a little short, missing a real driving factor/force but is nonetheless still enjoyable. Tracks #6 and #7 are both slower-paced and very mellow, belonging at the end of a Korean drama somewhere. Preference wise, I prefer #6 though both tracks are both very Michael Jackson-inspired/-esqued as well as jazz-inspired instrumentally.
“The First Mini Album ‘BASE'” in my opinion is definitely worth a listen and I would suggest picking it up on iTunes or even possibly Ebay, in either of the two physical editions as I plan on doing myself. 🙂
“K-HOT! – Hot Comebacks & Debuts!” is brought to you and part by the Torch (shsthetorch.com) – The Student Voice of Wichita High School South and it’s founder, Jeffrey “Grape Juice” Welch. 🙂