Every once in a while, something will cross my radar and I’ll wonder “that couldn’t make more sense.”
Since the creation of his monthly single project in January of last year, Yoon Jong Shin has tagged several high profile vocalists and artists to contribute to this spectacle, from Lee Jung, Jung In and Super Junior’s Kyuhyun (see: “Late Autumn”). It wasn’t til the announcement of Lena Park for May’s single that the project clicked with me. All the singles were good (some even great) in quality, but this collaboration for “Arrivée” is another thing altogether.
Yoon Jong Shin’s exploration of styles in instrumentation during 2011 ranged from ballads, pop, R&B, and acoustic numbers, but his mainstay has been 70’s pop. His super group ShinChiReem based their first record, “Episode 1: Travel” on this sound, and “Arrivée” fits this aesthetic to a T.
Playing with the song’s narrative of moving on, Yoon Jong Shin takes Korean legend Lena Park to France, with an accordion in toe, and an organ to amplify a strong romanticism within the song.
“Arrivée” is steeped in romance, but of the traditional sense in that it looks nostalgically to old ways of doing things, largely to Yoon Jong Shin’s MO. Instead of complicated layers of electronic sounds and overblown strings, you hear a guitar, with the rest of the instruments to liven things up.
– Why put your man/girl on blast on social media, when you can leave the bullshit behind in the cold embrace of a stranger?
Ms. Park’s handling of the lyrics is exemplary, going for just enough to commit herself to this travel idea, but still holding back the pain of love’s end. In other words, Lena is putting on a brave face to keep the pain at arm’s length, and it translates beautifully in this song.
I’ll be honest, “Arrivée” won’t grab you at first listen. The restraint on Mr Yoon and Ms Park’s parts, although beautiful, is cold. It won’t hug you or clutch your palm, but it is realistic in its romantic theme. It’s a nostalgic look, but the song never hides the underlying pain, as hard as it tries.
This interplay of ambivalence while trying to convey pain is what makes this song more than just a pop song, but an art form. It’s a complexity rarely seen in pop music of any stripe today, and for that, it deserves high praise.