[HOT TRACK]For Park the student, new album fails examination

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[HOT TRACK]For Park the student, new album fails examination

The woman with lean and petite stature explosively chanting "Let's Get Together" at the opening for the World Cup on May 31, that was Park Jung-hyun. Park, also known as Lena Park, was one of the World Cup singers, along with two other Japanese teams.

Park, a Korean-American, was one of the first to introduce rhythm and blues music locally in the 1990s. Now she is back with her fourth studio album, "Op. 4," which was released Friday.

For this album, Park has tried to present a slightly different style, although still rooted in pop. That is why she hired the producer Jung Seok-won, a songwriter and pop star from the 1980s. Jung, usually a solid songwriter, does not sound like he was the right man for the job.

Park has a reputation for having a versatile voice, able to handle the explosive, crooning, appealing and tender. Jung tried to take advantage of that versatility, but unfortunately tried to do too much, and the album ended up succeeding at nothing.

"Plastic Flower," the first track, about a one-sided lover in despair, is one such case. After hearing pandemonium in Park's voice and the accompanying electric guitar, you can quickly understand why the man she sings of would get cold feet and put the relationship on hold.

Another tune, "Ggume" (In Dreams), shows signs of an effort to be grand in scale, with a mixture of tempos and melodies, but in the end Jung's efforts merely overwhelm Park.

Those songs that start off the CD are enough to make you turn off the CD player. If you are a bit patient, however, you can discover a few later songs that are vintage Park, most notably "Mijang-woneseo" (At a Beauty Salon), a song about a woman looking to forget her last love by getting a haircut. Fortunately, Jung restrained himself on the production this time.

"Saenghwalui Balgyeon" (Discovery of Life) is a lighthearted medium-tempo number about a woman growing aware of the details of her beloved too late, after he has already left her. Park sings it right, remaining cool, making the most of the atmosphere.

Park attends Columbia University where she is a straight-A student. Unfortunately, this release just doesn't make the grade.

by Chun Su-jin

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