’90s singers hoping to be comeback kings

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’90s singers hoping to be comeback kings

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Kim Jo-han [JOONGANG ILBO], Kim Tae-wook [JOONGANG ILBO], Kim Jang-hoon [JOONGANG ILBO], Shin Seung-hun [DOROTHY MUSIC]

The so-called oppa who used to rule the 1990s music scene are returning one after another with a deeper and more mature sound.

Oppa literally means older brother but it is also used as a term of endearment for male stars.

Among the pack of returning crooners, singer-songwriter Shin Seung-hun, often referred to the king of ballad songs, released a new album on Thursday.

Although the 47-year-old singer released three mini albums between 2008 and 2013, this is his first full-length album in nine years.

“I love to listen to a wide spectrum of music, and I also like heavy metal and want to try it but I wouldn’t dare to do it because my mother won’t allow me to grow my hair,” said Shin with a laugh during a recent press event at which he unveiled some tracks from his latest album, titled “I Am & I Am,” prior to the official release.

“Because of my vast appetite for music, I wanted to be experimental and tried all the genres that don’t even suit me such as modern rock, urban music and British rock with the three mini albums,” he continued.

“I have been doing music more than 20 years and I had to think about the next 20 years to come, and this [new album] is the outcome of nine years of wandering.”

Of the 12 tracks, just a half of them became public on Thursday, and Shin said the first half of his album is in keeping with his previous style. He talks about love and loss with his resonant and plaintive voice.

The remaining six tracks will be released sometime next month, and Shin said they embody the type of music he wishes to sing in the next 20 years.

Shin did not want to comment further on the second part, but he hinted that he tried to blend his music with hip-hop, jazz and other genres he is interested in.

“The second part will be much more sophisticated than the first part,” he said. “If my previous songs were way too sad, as if they were telling people to cry and cry, I tried to back away from the overdose of emotions this time.”

In releasing albums after a long hiatus, singers from the ’90s are trying to adapt themselves to a modern music scene that is heavily focused on digital music and real-time, online music charts. Shin is no exception.

“I began my career in the ’90s and all the singers of that time elaborated on each track, unlike singers of today who put emphasis just on a title track,” he explained.

Shin continued, “I didn’t want people just listening to one title track out of my 12 songs. So I decided to release them in two parts.”

The new album’s title track, “Me, Myself,” is typical of Shin’s ballad songs. The singer, who composes most of his songs, also resumed writing lyrics after 13 years for “Me, Myself.”

Starting with the ballad song, Shin filled out the first part of his album by trying his hand at other genres he has been dabbling in over the past years, including jazz and disco.

“Hidden Words of Love” is spiced up with jazzy sounds, while “Amigo” has a disco style and is similar to his previous up-beat hit “Eommaya.”

Having debuted in 1990, Shin instantly soared to stardom with his debut song, “Reflection of You in Your Smile.”

Since then, Shin’s 10 albums have all been chosen as album of the year by the annual Golden Disc Awards, and the singer has sold more than 17 million copies of his albums so far.

Another ’90s oppa, Kim Jang-hoon, also released a digital single, “Leaving for the Airport” on Tuesday.

With the ballad song, which he sings along with rookie female singer Eun Ga-eun, Kim reportedly said, “I’ve come to realize what people want from me is a ballad song like ‘If You Were Like Me.’ With the new song, I want to go beyond [the popularity] of ‘If You Were Like Me.’”

Kim broke into the music scene in 1991, but he remained obscure until “If You Were Like Me” became a hit in 1998. The ballad track, with Kim’s husky vocals, brought Kim instant fame and popularity. And he hopes his new song will bring him another heyday.

But Kim was recently involved in a couple of scandals. He was caught smoking in an airplane lavatory on a flight from Paris to Incheon in March and was sentenced to pay a fine of 1 million won ($876). He also came under fire for illegally downloading a film in February.

Another ’90s star, singer Kim Tae-wook, is also releasing a new mini album today after an 11-year hiatus. Kim, who debuted in 1991, wants to show off his musical side again, after spending years as a businessman.

The album’s title track is reportedly a sad ballad song.

Kim’s debut song, “Silly Dream,” caught the public’s attention when it was released, but he left the music industry suddenly in 2000 after he was diagnosed with vocal cord paralysis. After that, he successfully made a transition to being an entrepreneur and is running a wedding management company.

Singer Kim Jo-han is also on the list of returning ’90s singers.

His agency recently signaled his comeback, announcing that he would release a sixth regular album on Nov. 12, his first in eight years. The record’s title track will be unveiled Wednesday.

The album is reportedly filled with R&B and revolves around the themes of family, friends and love.

Kim debuted in 1993 as a member of the R&B trio Solid and is often referred to as “R&B daddy” by his fans.

Although Solid broke up in 1997, years after its successful debut, Kim has sporadically released mini-albums and been featured on the soundtracks for several TV drama series.

BY SUNG SO-YOUNG
[so@joongang.co.kr]
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