When people talk about female vocal ranges in Korea, names such as Ailee, Girls' Generation's Taeyeon, or former SISTAR member Hyorin come up. This is no surprise, as all of them have truly proven that they are worthy of the praise. I, however, find pity in the fact that there are a lot more female vocalists who do just as well but don’t receive the attention and love they deserve. One of these voices that is left undiscovered by many is Shannon, a solo act who debuted under MBK Entertainment in late 2014.
K-Pop Star 6
Months after releasing her debut single “Daybreak Rain,” Shannon released a few more stellar singles leading up to her first mini-album. Since wrapping up promotions for “Why Why,” she hasn’t made an official comeback, and talks about her started to die down. Around November last year, however, Shannon made headlines when news surfaced that she decided to join the sixth and final season of SBS's staple audition program K-Pop Star.
Despite impressing a lot of people and the judges during her run in the show, she was criticized for "sounding too much like a machine" by judge Park Jinyoung. Even after advancing round after round, there was always something pointed out from her performance, whether it was her singing with more technique and less emotion, or her not truly finding her "own voice." It didn't faze her, as she kept improving, finally exploding during the top 10 round with her cover of JYP's "Who's Your Mama?" Now it seems those days when she would say "I came to join the competition to find my real color" have finally come to fruition, as she recently released a new single called "Love Don't Hurt," which is the best thing she’s ever released.
“Love Don’t Hurt”
When listened to in full and imagined as a whole, "Love Don't Hurt" is quite dark. There's a certain loneliness to it that exists all throughout the three minutes of the track, but the formula of production definitely stays pop. The track's main selling point, the melody, flows smoothly and works because of how catchy it is. The chorus in particular is very charming because it sounds well-composed, despite having the notes play around Shannon's upper register. If there's one thing that could have been left out of the track, it's Sik-K's rap section because, despite it being well-written, I don't think the song needed a rap verse. With the English version, the rap is replaced with a singing verse by f(x)’s Amber, and it progresses the song way better than the Korean version.
The track is definitely Shannon's most mature single to date. It was a breath of fresh air listening to the track because it feels like she found what truly works for her. She finally found her sound after releasing a variety of tracks from straight up pop and dance tracks to OST-influenced ballads. The thing about that, however, is despite her playing around with a lot of different genres in the past, her songs aren’t as convincing as they should be, even if the title tracks sound impressive. That has changed significantly in this release, which is why everything feels tailor-made for Shannon. She has grown a lot more, so she became a lot more capable of pulling off a more mature concept.
Whenever there's an alternate version of a track I originally heard in another language, I usually hate it. That being said, I was ready to hate the English version of "Love Don't Hurt" when I found out it was also getting a release. I ate my words as soon as my first listen to it ended, however, because I loved it just as much as I loved the original. It was written so flawlessly that it was impossible to find anything awkward about it, so it makes you wonder if it was actually written first in English before being translated to Korean. What I loved most about it was how it didn't stray away from the original thought of the track and came off more relatable through the word choices.
The music video is hands down the best video she has put out. It features an eventful play on neon lights and dark semitones, creating an amusing three-minute aesthetic. There are smooth twisting and melting effects used for transitioning that were definitely some of the most interesting visual aspects of the music video. The lights used for the background during her solo shots were very appealing, and the camera work does the emotional element of the song justice. I personally love how badass she looks and acts in the video. I get to see a different side of her.
Overall, "Love Don't Hurt" is probably one of the best K-Pop releases we've had this year so far, so it sucks that it isn't getting the love it deserves right now. Every element of the single clicked with the others, and you can see Shannon’s growth in her artistry. Now that she’s preparing her next album release, I honestly can't contain my excitement. As long as she sticks to the color she has finally found, imagine how great the album would sound!
Title Track Score - 10/10
Music Video Score - 9.5/10