written by: drowningn00b
Remember when Miss A made the claim they were “sentimental” idols? If you looked at “Touch”, that didn’t hold water. “Over U” was empowering and “Lips” was suggestive. The one who is sentimental lately is JYP, aka Park Jin Young. After years of playing the sex god of adult k-pop, his latest EP, “Spring: 5 Songs for a New Love” concentrates the mature star in all the trappings of being an adult in love. But, like his teen and young adult peers, “Spring” suffers from elementary mistakes.
Since his last release, “Sad Freedom” in 2009, JYP came out publicly about his marriage and subsequent divorce on “Win Win” (source: allkpop). That experience underlies the two singles off “Spring”, “Someone Else” with Brown Eyed Girls’ Ga-In (reviewed here) and the lead single, “You’re the One”. On Both, he talks about his status as a star, wanted by female fans but having love for only one. A tried and true topic for experienced men, but JYP takes a retro approach to the music, specifically to R&B dance sub-genre, “two-step”. For the lead single, the piano, drum beats and bass keep the rhythm hopping along, making “You’re the One” a smooth dance track. For a sound that’s dated, JYP produced something fresh in “You’re the One”. Whether that’s because k-pop keeps rolling past its R&B past, or the absence of this style in mainstream pop (with the exception of the Prepix b-side “Another Day”), is anyone’s guess, but “You’re the One” is a great track that proves JYP can do right amidst the misses (Wonder Girls, anyone?).
In the advanced accomplishment of making retro sound contemporary, JYP’s ballad efforts fail at their most basic functions. Both “Last Love” and “Please” are power ballads, with the k-pop essentials of the piano backbone, drum beats to keep the pace and strings for effect. Considering his vocal deficits, JYP sounds exceptional on both, but the layers on “Last Love” drown him out. Ballads build up to an emotional climax, and that can include higher vocal notes or dramatic singing, or in JYP’s case, the steady addition of layers. But “Last Love” has too many things going on at once, losing whatever emotional punch it was trying to deliver. The beginning sounds great, and the track benefits from the piano alone. But that initial clarity is lost when, inexplicably, an electric guitar enters the picture near the end. “Last Love” fails at keeping the focus on JYP and the love message, instead getting lost its own vision of grandeur.
“Please” is a power ballad of the Diane Warren 90’s past, complete with synth sounds and background vocals. “Please” gets a pass for the noise because it starts that way, but it does not work, either. No matter what, every pop ballad leads to a high point. “Please” builds up to… what, exactly? Instead of an explosive climax, it fizzles and sputters out. The message of “Please” is a man desperate to keep a woman, but sound desperate is all I ask. Yell, shout or shriek like a cat, but do something to make me believe you feel that way. As nice as he sings, JYP’s affect is dead, leaving “Please” a wet blanket.
“Spring: 5 Songs for a New Love” is about love, no matter how you slice it. “Feel So Good” is a song fitting the bland pretty boys of 2PM (my apologies to Jun K.) about being in love, and “Last Love” comes close to proposing commitment. But, like the stereotype of the man incapable of commitment, “Spring” isn’t fully realized. “Someone Else” and “You’re the One” are fantastic, but the rest of this EP feels half-assed and flat. If this is the schmaltz and love-obsessed JYP, I’d rather have the JYP obsessed with love and sex from “Your House”.