[Review] [Album] Lee Hi – ‘First Love’


written by: MystifiedBulb
Artist/Album: Lee Hi – ‘First Love’
Genre: Pop, R’n’B
Release Date: March 28, 2013

At the tender age of 16, Lee Hi has already unleashed her debut album (in two parts, no less) and finished as the runner-up in 2011’s ‘K-Pop Star‘. Obviously, this is no mean feat for someone who is so youthful and naive to the ways of the cut-throat music industry (especially without several years worth of training), so questions need to be asked. Is her debut happening a bit too soon? Will her natural talent be nurtured or wasted? And, most importantly, is she really worth all of the hype and buzz?

From a few listens to the overall production, it is apparent that a distinctively jazzy sound has been crafted for Lee Hi – whilst this has the advantage of granting her a selling point and an area of music in which to specialise, it does open up the potential for certain songs sounding like clones of one another without adding anything new to the album. However, this is one crisis that is thankfully avoided as each song has its own niche, be it the gospel styling of ballad “One Sided Love” to the smoothness of mid-tempo R’n’B number “Special” (featuring Jennie Kim, another YG Entertainment trainee). The exploration of genres and tones feels genuine and the production is granted a unified, soul-lashed sound.

This isn’t to say that the entire work is sheer perfection, as there is the occasional flaw however slight it may be. For example, “Turn It Up” feels like a lazy and unexciting start to the album, being an intro track of relatively little value. It also presents the listener with a slight shock to the system as the song attempts to veer into rock territory, but ultimately fails – this track feels like it was forced upon Lee Hi and the end result is a slight burden to the ears. Another track which doesn’t reach the very high standard achieved by practically all of the songs on the album is third single “Rose“. The fusion of Lee Hi’s dramatic and mature vocals with the electronic R’n’B/pop backing proves to be an interesting listen for about the first minute or two but the music starts to feel repetitive and the piece meanders aimlessly, never reaching a satisfying climax. It’s good, just not brilliant; an interesting track that feels like it could have given so much more to the listener.

Aside from these pointers, the album is crammed full of fantastic moments. The best, without a doubt is the debut single “1, 2, 3, 4“, a sassy finger-snapping nod to motown which compliments the strong tone of Lee Hi’s powerfully rich vocals. “It’s Over” allows her to remain strong and fierce but in a softer, jazzier tone. Whilst we are shown her more aggressive tones, the album also presents the listener with many instances of Lee Hi’s vulnerable side on sparse tracks such as “Because” and “Am I Strange“. For those desiring Lee Hi’s standout vocal moment, they need look no further than piano driven ballad “Dream” in which her voice reaches euphoric peaks and soothing depths. Every track helps to display the versatility of Lee Hi’s vocals and asserts her as one of the best new voices within the K-Pop scene.


Albums of this quality are rare and it is such a treat to find an album with a fantastic balance of emotion, vocal dexterity and beauty. It needs repeating that Lee Hi is only 16 and yet she is able to convey delicacy and strength without outshining her tracks to a grating point. The jazzy/soul/R’n’B combination works harmoniously with her vocals and it will be a real push to find other musicians who can create a diverse yet oddly unified sound. Lee Hi makes a brilliant debut and the feeling is, she knows it too and isn’t afraid to show audiences what she is capable of.



Turn It Up (Intro)
Special (feat. Jennie Kim)
It’s Over
One-Sided Love
Fool for Love
Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
Am I Strange
1, 2, 3, 4
Total Points

Points to stars conversion: [(8.5/10) x 5] + 0.25*


*there is a 0.25 bonus for every album. The logic is that, if every song were “pretty good”, it’s a 4-star album.

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6 thoughts on “[Review] [Album] Lee Hi – ‘First Love’

  1. Hmm interesting review. I agree that it’s an amazing album. It’s solid and I’m completely in love with lee hi and her voice. But my scoring for some songs would be different. I personally loved turn it up and would love to get a full version. Hopefully one day it will happen like it did with big bang’s alive. I would score it a .75 just bc it’s short. For it’s over I liked it. It’s catchy and lee hi sounds great in it but it’s my least favorite song on the album so I would give it a .5/.75. Though I enjoyed the mv and how she looked cute but still had a little bit of attitude. And gom gom E is adorable (the blue bear). Crush I would also give a .75 bc it had to grow on me. However the live version of it she did on the radio show gets a 1! She’s so freaking amazing. Everything else gets a 1. I pretty much loved it on first listen. Dream is gorgeous and am i strange? Is really great. Loved her voice in that song and the lyrics were interesting. I can’t wait to see rose performed live~ anyway I’m really impressed and I can see how much work the producers put in this album. Though I think the ones that need to be mentioned are never mentioned. Realmeee who is an outside producer not from YG just worked on this for lee hi. She wrote/composed because and dream. Sunwoo Jung ah also composed am I strange and crush. Two of my favorites. She also composed 2ne1’s it hurts. Anyway a lot of female composers worked on this album which I found interesting bc it’s nice to get the females voice in some songs. And lee hi apparently talked with them and they wrote the lyrics based on her experience like her one sided love on crush. I can’t wait to see her grow and improve. I’m still amazed she’s still 16! And also pretty amazed that she was brave enough to audition bc from what I know of her she seems really shy and awkward. Kind of an introvert. I hope she finds friends in the music industry bc she already mentioned she’s a little lonely. Anyway thank u for the review!

  2. Interesting album review, although there were some points I would like to address. I would give “Turn It Up” a .75 because I like her aggressive delivery (Rap singing) and basically this song falls more on the RNB approach, with a little Hip Pop in it. But I find the instrumental (the drums) to be overwhelming afterwards and I just hope it tweaks to match Lee Hi’s voice. Nevertheless,It basically serves it’s purpose as an intro. It’s Over I would give it a 0.5 because I find that this song is repetitive and the use of English in this song does sound quite awkward. I got to applaud the producer’s effort by taking a different approach to write a break up song, fun and cute instead of depressing. But comparing it to the other songs I listened on this album, it feels inferior to me.. I like to give Special a .1 because of the genuine voice behind Lee Hi’s voice and Jennie Kim’s vocals blending in the chorus. But Jennie Kim’s parts could have been improved. The rest I would keep it the same. For a girl who is 5 days older than me (Hah!), I applaud her for her musical ability and her vocals, which really outshines many artists in the KPop artists nowdays. However, I personally hope that YG would let her take greater control on her future releases (Probably on the songwriting,but also on other aspects), such that she will experience growth as an artist herself. I also hope that she can branch out to other genres in her next release too. Nevertheless, I feel proud of her as she gets to release an album, with huge backing in such an early age. I wish her the best in her musical career and will be looking forward to her future releases. :) Anyway, thanks for reviewing this album which I had requested for.

    • In an interview she had it seems like she really isn’t getting a lot of training compared to the other trainees. YG is basically leaving her alone free to practice what she wants. They want her to find her own style bc they realized making her a dancing idol isn’t going to work lol. In kpop star she had a lot of trouble with cherography so I don’t think we will ever see her on stage having difficult dancing moves. Also it looks like she’s already attending music lessons and is learning piano bc she wants to learn how to compose. She would like to become a singer songwriter after learning how to compose. I’m really looking forward to her future releases and hopefully it will include a track composed by her. Until then ill just listen to her album.

  3. She truly sings beyond her years. But the songs like “Dream” are what catch my attention because it drives away from the typical “YG Sound” and frees her musically, rather than “It’s Over” or most of “Rose.”

  4. Pingback: Billboard ranks young people and Lee Hi is officially world class | C.A.M.P.

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