Musician broadens range on 10th albumAs a musician, the nickname “King of Ballads” has long been confining for Shin Seung-hun. It has earned him record sales of 14 million copies, but also limited his recognition in the musical world strictly to that of a balladeer.
After 16 years on the music scene, however, Shin, who also became a hot hallyu, or Korean wave, star after he featured on the soundtrack album for the film “My Sassy Girl,” is finally breaking out of that mold.
On his 10th album “The Romanticist,” Shin has made a bold effort to shift away from his previous musical style.
“A reporter in Japan once asked me why I was called the ‘king of ballads’ when I actually sang more than 20 different musical genres,” he said.
The theme of Shin’s music has always been “tears and sadness” and it has worked as audiences were drawn into his sentimental music. On his new album, he has tried out new styles ranging from tango to swing jazz. It’s still based on a foundation of romantic ballads, but he has added strong elements of jazz with instrumental emphasis.
“It was difficult,” he says, “so difficult that I thought this was going to be my last album. But I am certain that this is full of good content. I wrote all 11 songs on the album. I purposely didn’t choose a title song, because I no longer want to be judged by a single song.”
His 10th album also signals the start of a new career as a producer and composer.
“There are a number of songs I didn’t release, because I thought they weren’t the ‘right fit’ for me,” he says. “If you heard songs I’ve written sung by other musicians, you’d be surprised to hear that I had other musical tastes than ballads. In fact, I wrote about 40 songs while working on the new album. It was as if I went mad.”
Mr. Shin was recently given a Fender guitar as a gift by the company’s promoter and had the chance to play it during a concert last week at the Olympic Stadium, when he sang “Hidden Love,” one of his biggest hits.
The reception was overwhelming, he said.
“I want to sing songs that sound comfortable but touch people’s hearts like the Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’,” he said. “I’m not going to limit the idea of love in my music just to romance. I will sing songs about life and hope that many people can identify with.”
by Jeong Hyun-mok