Jooyoung is “N/A” In New Release
Starship Entertainment seems like an odd choice for an R&B artist like Jooyoung to hone his creative juices; his music rings truer to that of a H1GHR MUSIC or Amoeba Culture. Although he ventured into the mainstream at the start of his career with then labelmate Hyolyn and Mad Clown, his presence faded as he suddenly enlisted in the military in 2015, a year after his debut under the label.
Since he’s returned, however, Jooyoung has released a string of poignant tracks, especially through his mini-album, Fountain, released in March. His career took off with more urban R&B tracks that appealed to the mainstream. Now, it is clear he has scaled back the theatrics to release music that can affect listeners simply through his lyrics and his voice. His sound is more Frank Ocean than Trey Songz — less sensual and more emotional.
His latest release, “N/A,” only further exemplifies how stirring a voice can be. The melancholic title track “N/A” and its accompanying single, “Inn,” are simple in production, which clarifies the message he’s sending to himself.
“N/A” reflects Jooyoung’s conversation with himself in the mirror (figuratively or literally is up to the interpreter). It’s introspective and at times even suicidal:
“Sometimes, I cry over seeing how hurt you get / Since when did you start wandering? / I also want to ask if you think the same way / I’m actually dreaming of going to a higher place.” (translation credit: popgasa)
It’s a common feeling that many have experienced: losing a sense of self, wondering what the future holds, trying to reconnect with one’s self. Jooyoung isn’t one to shy away from sensitive topics.
The music video is an enigmatic art piece; I’d like to believe the VHS-esque footage we see only occupies a small portion of the screen to portray the small window Jooyoung has opened to view the inner workings of his mind. Even then, most of the images are distorted and filtered, and by the end, we still really can’t pinpoint what exactly he’s thinking or saying. Most of it is colors and fragments of his warped face and body. Very little is actually revealed, but there seem to be layers of emotion and memories behind this release.
“Inn” is a lonely track despite the claim that he isn’t in the lyrics. He attempts to reassure the listener he’s alright as he wanders alone on a dark night through lonely lights. It’s impossible not to empathize with the thoughts he’s sharing, especially when the melody lulls you to sleep. Jooyoung’s glazed voice makes it feel like a dream; the lyrics isolate the listener from the real world and trap them in solitude.
It seems as if the tracks weren’t really meant for the public’s ears, so it’s respectable of Jooyoung to be so vulnerable in a relentless music industry. “N/A” may not be commercially successful, but it’s a heart-clenching release that will keep us company during the cold nights.