Ballads for the broken hearted
The schmaltzy fest could seem a bit slow-paced for the city’s coolest and the hardheaded, but the songs are addictive and work like a dose of masochism for those who are already hurting after parting.
Kim Yeon-woo is back after two years with his third album. Titled “Lost Love,” this new album is another strong collection of tear-jerkers that parted couples here might have been waiting for.
“But I am also fond of faster and brighter songs,” the 35-year-old said with a mischievously exaggerated frown as he sat back and crossed his legs.
Though he said he wanted to defend himself from critics calling him “the sad serenader,” he knows that this is what his fans love about him ― and that he is good at it too. His voice is smooth and clear ― powerful when it reaches higher notes but just enough so that listeners will feel comfortable.
He is particularly popular among young men in their early 20s. In a recent concert he said he saw a young male fan weeping in his seat listening to his song. Frankly, he said, it gave him the creeps.
“I didn’t understand why they [men] would like me so much at first,” he said. “They write and tell me that my songs reflect their feelings so well.”
“Now of course I am grateful and happy that I can move their hearts too,” he said.
Kim started his ballad career 11 years ago with the group Toy, a “love-song” band that songwriter Yoo Hee-yeol led and produced for singers he invited to sing in the band. Kim instantly made the group a hit by singing “[Remember] that I was with you for a while.” On the band’s next album, Kim’s silky voice desperately sought after a girl he left and confessed he couldn’t stop his eyes from welling up with tears as he doodled her name on a piece of a paper in the song Yoo wrote, “Are you still beautiful as you were [when I left you]?”
“I think that Hee-yeol and I made a good team,” Kim said.
But Kim recalled Yoo as a “very delicate person with a sensitive heart.” It took him four years to understand the composer whose hobbies were collecting shoes and looking for good restaurants.
On the other hand, Kim was an undemanding man with an admiration for both ballads and rock music.
Kim does not sing for Toy anymore. But Yoo contributed to the new album with his emotional songs alongside Korea’s most beloved ballad composers Cho Gyu-man, Yoon Jong-shin and pianist Yiruma. All 11 tracks ended up being about parting or parted couples. One of his songs, called, “The day I clean my room,” is fast becoming the favorite song for radio deejays. It is a soft ballad sung by a man who cleans his room often, just in case he might find any pictures of his ex-girlfriend left hidden somewhere ― although he had thrown them all away when they broke up.
“Actually I have never been a depressing person nor am I ever a schmaltzy type as my fans may imagine because of my songs,” Kim said. But he admitted his songs could be changing his views about life and love. Despite his efforts to sound bolder and harder, the thoughts that play in his mind these days prove again that he is a perfect emotional balladeer for farewell songs.
“When I go home late at night, and the lights are off,” he said, “I sometimes stand in the middle of an empty room, overwhelmed with a sudden feeling of odd discomfort that there may be nobody in the world who I can love anymore.”
by Lee Min-a