It’s finally here! Jay Park finally makes his solo debut!
2011 may only be into its fourth month, but with the deluge of idol groups hitting the Korean pop scene, the music has gotten pretty stale to me. Every time I heard the line “Check it out…” “…Brand new sound!” as the intro to some song from new idol groups, all I kept thinking was: “Nope, it’s the saaaame sound I heard yesterday from that other girl group who debuted!”.
There have been a few decent songs this year, but after being disappointed by the comeback offering from my second favourite girl group (first being SNSD), I had all my hopes pinned on Jay Park to actually bring something fresh to the K-pop scene.
I’ve been anticipating Jay Park’s solo debut for a while now. Ever since I heard “Demon” last year, I knew this dude was destined to be the next big star. Not a star like how Rain is popular as an ‘Asian star,’ but a star of Asian descent who will become a worldwide superstar!
For one, he has the advantage of being American (of Korean descent). Born in Seattle, Jay Park grew up dancing and performing, and his influences are deep in R&B and hip-hop — not cutesy idol pop. Not to mention his love for b-boying.
leaving getting kicked out of 2PM, Jay Park has been slowly whetting the appetite of his fans, a.k.a Jaywalkerz. A few YouTube covers later, he’s now out with his first album ‘Take a Deeper Look‘. He’s on his own now, so he has the freedom (I guess) to do the kind of music that he wants, not what JYP any labels wants him to do.
Which brings us to his first single “Abandoned”.
My review: “Abandoned,” if sung in English, would sound like a lot of the modern day R&B one would hear on radio. I love the chorus, the overall look of the sets, and the choreography by Andrew Baterina is slick! It’s not a ‘fresh new sound’ but a good track in the same vibe of many other good pop R&B tracks from artists such as Ne-Yo & Chris Brown. For a self-penned track, it’s a great effort — given how rare it is that K-pop stars make their own music. If I were to nit pick, it would be Jay looks so awkward from 0:05 to 0:07. Yeah he’s short, and quite shy in real life so I can imagine how awkward it may have been to do some of the scenes in this MV :). I hope he recorded an English version of the same. Or at least has a dance only version of the music video!
My rating – 4/5
As for the other tracks:
“Touch The Sky (Feat. The Quiett)” – Kicking the album off with a smooth hip-hop track, Jay Park straight away reminds listeners he can rap too. Love the beat and the retro loop music. (This track also reminded me of the late Nujabes) – (4/5)
“Tonight” – I’m guessing this was supposed to be the first single, but after BIG BANG released their hit “Tonight” a few weeks back, Jay Park and SidusHQ may have had second thoughts on pushing back this track for a second single release. It’s more fast-paced and only the pop-sounding track on the album. Not bad, but I’ll probably like it better with the video.
Here’s my review:
I’m kinda disappointed :-/ When I watched the behind-the-scenes from a news interview a few months back, the concept seemed cool: dance all the way to a party. But seeing the final result, to me it comes off as a half-assed effort. Stepping out of the house, I would have thought Jay and the ‘public’ would be pulling off slick dance moves continuously and pulled along more people on the way to ‘the club’. At least that is what I thought the concept was. But instead, the dancers seem restricted by the set. Maybe, they should have stepped out and filmed this in the real world and on the streets. Another thing, it’s as though the camera cuts away every time the director felt Jay’s facial expressions (or acting) wasn’t good enough. (Jay’s really got to improve on his facial expressions!) Also, did Andrew Baterina work on the choreography for “Tonight” as well? Because some of the moves look recycled from “Abandoned“. Overall, it’s a cute video which his younger female fans will appreciate, but it really doesn’t improve the song much for me.
My rating – 3/5
“I Can’t Be Without You” (너 없이 안돼) – A slow-tempo R&B ballad. I don’t know, Jay’s vocals sound a bit off to me on this track. (2/5)
“Don’t Let Go” – Keeping the tempo, another smooth R&B ballad. Listening to the track, it makes you wonder if Jay writes a song in English and then translates it into Korean. (3/5)
“Level 1000” (Feat. Dok2) – Essentially a rap track with a gangsta vibe. Jay Park raps pretty well and is joined by his buddy Dok2, who also appeared on “Abandoned”. (3/5)
Update (14/05/2011): Even this track got a music video! (Although on a much, much lower budget)
“Bestie” – Essentially the Korean version of “Bestie,” an English track Jay Park released last year and performed at his fan meets. The chorus is concert-friendly and a fun track Jay performs with his AOM posse.
Listening to the album, you know Jay Park is striving to be a R&B star, and not a pop star per se. All the tracks, with the exception of “Tonight,” have a strong R&B/hip-hop vibe and I wonder if they would have sounded better had they been sung in English.
Overall, for a first mini-album, ‘Take a Deeper Look‘ is a solid effort from Jay Park. It’s not a ‘classic’ by any means. The production could use some improvement but regardless, you have to give credit where its due. Jay Park worked on this album by himself and his friends, mostly Cha Cha. Not with any industry big shots — and for that, ‘Take a Deeper Look‘ gets an overall rating of 4 out of 5 from me.
(By the way Jay, when is “Demon” getting an official release?!) Edit (05/09/2011): Well that just came out of nowhere! The “Demon” MV is released!
Hmmm, doesn’t look…erm, very good. Very poorly produced in my opinion. I know it has 3D sequences but anyway, even Jay himself tweeted about the MV:
I agree with him. The sound in the MV doesn’t do the song justice. They should have just released the single.
Last November, I delayed my return journey from Bangkok just so I could see Jay Park live (you can read about my fan meet experience here). It was money well spent to see Jay’s talents at that stage in his career. He’s only going to get bigger now.
There’s still some awkwardness in his appearance, but I guess its got to do with his shyness and humble nature. He’ll probably grow more comfortable in front of the camera in due time. (Actually, act all hip & cool in music videos, I really get annoyed when people act like that in real life… so I hope he stays the same in real life). ‘Take a Deeper Look‘ is Jay Park’s first solo Korean album, but with his recent meetings with Will.I.Am and getting to perform as Ne-Yo’s concert opener, Jay’s slowly gearing up for his US debut.
I can only wonder how good his first English album will be!