B-Sides: Male Soloist Edition
Last week we looked at four strong female soloists. This week in B-Sides, we will examine four male soloists who have expanded the range and talent of the solo scene. We will look at two stand-alone soloists and two soloists who debuted from boy groups.
“Nostalgia” - CRUSH
A popular stand-alone soloist, CRUSH released this song on his 2016 mini-album, Wonderlust. The song is a little over two minutes long, but it fills you with nostalgia just like the title indicates. It emanates a simple charm, with a muted electric guitar and his soft voice. The smooth R&B creates a mellow and contemplative feel that utterly entrances you as the listener. The song ends with piano and swelling strings that transport you on a journey of wanderlust. CRUSH really shows off the diversity of his talent with this song that feels like a breath of fresh air.
“Lose You” - Eric Nam
Globally popular soloist Eric Nam released this English song on his 2018 album, Honestly. Nam wrestles with letting someone go in order to grow closer and find the solution to a difficult relationship. His emotional falsetto and airy backtrack make you feel his yearning for resolution. With a bittersweet sound, he uses syncopation in the verses as an image for how his heart is churning over the situation. He reveals his talent for making music that appeals to a global audience in this bittersweet track that reminds you of lost love.
“I Will Fight” - KEY, ft. VINXEN
KEY is a member of the second generation veteran group SHINee, and he made his solo vocalist debut in 2018 with his album Face. In this vulnerable song, he wrestles with how to live well for someone even though there are regrets. Using sunrise and sunset imagery, he promises to be the light for the person he has lost for the rest of his life.
VINXEN’s rap verse talks about how close he and his lost friend were and how he will cherish these memories forever. VINXEN’s low yet sincere rap blends well with KEY’s heart-weary melody, creating an ethereal atmosphere that pulls at your heartstrings.
Given the personal and vulnerable lyrics, fans have speculated that this song is about SHINee’s former groupmate Jonghyun, who sadly took his own life in December 2017. Fans think that KEY wrote this song in Jonghyun’s memory in promising to be strong in the midst of this tragedy. Even if the song is not entirely about Jonghyun, it still gives a sense of comfort as KEY promises to carry light forward through the darkness.
“Superstar” - G-DRAGON
In his self-titled 2017 solo album Kwon Ji Yong, G-DRAGON, the leader of the veteran group BIGBANG, shares his experiences of being a legendary veteran in the K-Pop industry. In this vulnerable song, G-DRAGON reveals the cost of fame that is contrary to the public’s perception of it. He admits that he is supposedly living “the good life” with wealth, fame, and opportunity. Yet in the chorus, he reveals how lonely he is by saying “I need somebody. I ain’t got nobody.” He knows that he has worked hard for what he has, but he confesses that there is something missing in his life. He reveals how isolating the “superstar” life can be and if it is really worth it if you do not have anyone truly by your side.
Interestingly, this song is not a sad ballad. It is smooth and upbeat, with a sharp synth and backtrack that shows no sign of open despair. G-DRAGON is not lamenting his feelings, but he is expressing truth with somewhat cynical honesty. In this expertly crafted song, G-DRAGON acknowledges his struggles with the industry, but he will not let them bring him down without a fight.