Well, call me blown away.
In Kpop, Ailee is well-known for her brassy “girl power” anthems, her big voice (which is used very often in her title tracks), and the fact she comes from American roots. She was one of the biggest rookies in 2012 after her debut, “Heaven,” to which many said she was “Korea’s Beyonce.” For me, Ailee never gathered my attention much beyond 2013, so I shrugged a bit when I heard that she was going to have another comeback. But, being the good blogger I am I decided to check it out to give the world my thoughts on her music.
And “Home” is awesome.
To write this review, I had to look back on all her singles since 2013 to get a feel of what kind of artist Ailee was, and when I did it became more and more obvious just how different “Home” was from Ailee’s previous material.
Usually, her music tends to take on many of the same themes: the use of brass, a fast-paced song, lots of points where Ailee’s voice can soar to the heavens, you get the gist. Her music also had an American flavor to it as well. “Home” is quite different in just about all of these things. Brass is completely thrown away and replaced with a heavy bass, the song is mid-tempo, and Ailee’s voice isn’t really allowed to add any big notes because the instrumental does all the work for her. For people who loved Ailee’s tracks previously, this could be a disappointment from what she usually releases. It allows her to take on different territory than her usual, and that’s a good thing to break up her usual fun stuff.
But here’s the thing: it doesn’t fit her very well with the career she’s established. One thing I noticed when I watched her previous music videos was the charisma she had whenever she was performing. Here, though (while understandable since, you know, this is a song about a broken heart), she looks like a shadow of her vibrant self, which was disappointing to watch in the music video.
And then there’s Yoonmirae’s section in the song.
Now, a collaboration between Yoonmirae and Ailee makes sense. Both of them are American-born artists in Korea, and on top of that they two of the best people in rap and singing respectively. However, I think this was the wrong way to do it. Instead of Yoonmirae’s rap feeling organic in the structure of the song, it feels shoe-horned and last minute. In fact, it feels so shoehorned that Yoonmirae never actually showed up in the music video.
But I digress.
The music video is also different in many ways from Ailee’s usual tracks. Whenever you looked at her previous music videos, you could tell that there was a light-hearted vibe to the entire thing, even if Ailee was telling you off for breaking her heart. Here, though, Ailee seems to be portrayed as a woman who “died” of a broken heart and her “ghost” seeking her lover or liberation from her feelings for him. The music video itself is a little more coherent than a lot of “dark” music videos like this (INFINITE? 24K?). It’s pretty and it continues with the shift from Ailee’s usual stuff in previous years.
Ailee is an interesting artist and she’s painted her own color within Kpop very well in the past four years. However, sometimes it’s a good thing to show what other stuff you can do, and “Home” does just that for Ailee. It’s not her usual, and it doesn’t necessarily play with the strengths in Ailee’s voice. But, it’s a difference that Ailee needed so she didn’t become a one-trick-pony with the same kinds of songs over and over again, and I like that difference a lot (save for Yoonmirae’s rap).
Now do I think Ailee should switch to this kind of sound for a few more comebacks? No. There is a reason that Ailee has as good of a career as she does, and as much as I thought this comeback was great, it didn’t fit her as an artist. Standing on its own, it would be wonderful if this was just a dark horse in the midst of the brassy songs she’s known for.
And, you know, it forced me to pay attention to her previous comebacks and see how fun they actually were.
What do you think of Ailee’s newest comeback? Do you think this fits her as an artist? Why or why not? Leave a comment below and let me know!