Album Review: Younha – “Someday”

 Today I’ll review Younha’s second album, Someday, which was released on August 28, 2008. The album has a total of 17 tracks including two instrumentals. This will be the first music release by a Korean artist that I will be reviewing fully on this blog.

 The first song on the album is Gossip Boy, which also happens to be the song that introduced me to Younha’s music. It starts off sounding almost R&B, but evolves into a fun and young-sounding pop/rock song. Younha’s vocals are smooth, upbeat and very enjoyable throughout the duration of the song. A great way to start off the album.

기억 (Memory), is the next on the list, and boy, did it catch me off guard. The beginning sounds very ambient and calm, with peaceful synths and electronic beeps. Younha sings the verses in a hushed voice, a very melodic whisper. The song positively comes alive with the chorus, introducing strings and an uplifting beat that highlight Younha’s voice. I’m also happy to report that  Tablo’s rap verse doesn’t detract from the song at all. It was pretty short actually, so I barely noticed it. In short, this is an incredibly beautiful song.

Totally on the other side of the spectrum from the last track, Hero comes in as #3, a positively epic flurry of strings and rock guitars. Younha’s voice is fairly calm during the verse, opposite intense rock arrangement, but the chorus will knock your socks off. I actually had the goosebumps for about three-quarters of the song, and that’s saying something. There could not have been a better song to showcase Younha’s incredible vocal talent. 

Next we have the title track, a slightly slower rock song. Younha’s voice, once again, is really spot-on in this track; I especially enjoyed the “la la la’s” after the chorus. I don’t have much else to say about Someday other than it’s very pleasant.

텔레파시(Telepathy) is the first big hit off the album, and it’s pretty easy to see why. Another rock song, it’s just oozing perky teenage pop sensibility, with all its hand-claps and “HEY! HEY!s”. This is the kind of song Hannah Montana would sing here in the States if she had any talent, and it seems as though the Korean audience is pretty much into the same sort of thing. Although it’s very, very short, (only 3:17) I enjoyed this song immensely. 

I didn’t understand the title of Rain & The Bar until I actually listened to the song. It starts off with the sound of rain and footsteps. Then, people talking. Finally, I understand – Younha is actually in a bar. As it turns out, Rain & The Bar is just an instrumental introduction to the next song, 빗소리 (The Sound of Rain). Soft piano, jazzy guitars, and sultry vocals ensue. For those of you who are familiar, this song may cause major throwbacks to Norah Jones hits “Come Away With Me” and “Don’t Know Why”. It has that same gentle, soulful arrangement, but Younha’s pretty, young voice brings something different to the table. 

Younha seems to be taking a few pages from the BoA playbook with Rainbow, a song that immediately calls on the essence of spring. Although there isn’t anything all THAT spectacular about this particular song, Younha’s vocals are soothing and pleasant as usual. The melody picks up a little bit towards the end, but other than that it wasn’t all that remarkable.

Best Friend sounds pretty similar to 텔레파시, despite being a lower-tempo song and altogether less happy-go-lucky. It’s a cute song, and fun. I don’t really have much else to say. I like this song.

Our next song allows us to take a deep breath and relax. Despite the cutesy title, Strawberry Days is one of the simpler songs on the album, with only an acoustic guitar and drum set as Younha’s accompaniment. It sounds very summery and seems to fill the room with soft sunlight while you listen to it. A very pretty song.

  For Catharina is an interlude, and a nice one at that. All it is is piano. Very simple, very beautiful.

 The ending of For Catharina runs straight into the beginning of 미워하다 (Hating), a touching, lovely ballad. The arrangement is largely unadorned in the beginning, consisting only of the piano we heard in the preceding interlude, but becomes sweeping and emotional as the song goes on. There’s even an 80’s-esque distorted guitar solo. Younha’s voice is, as always, beautiful, making for a very enjoyable song.

 When I first heard that My Song and… was entirely en English, my first thought was, “Oh, God.” A cynical response, I know – Asian singers, historically, do not have the greatest track record when it comes to singing in English. However, Younha’s performance left me pleasantly surprised. Her English is nearly perfect throughout the song, and, save for some very minor pronunciation issues, she could almost be a native speaker. Linguistics aside, My Song and… is a fantastic song, made better only by the fact that Younha sounds like she’s singing straight from the heart the entire time.

Hmm, I’m not sure about 울지마요 (Don’t Cry). The feel of the song is dated, and even a bit cliché. Even though there’s nothing wrong with the song in terms of Younha’s vocal performance, I simply failed to find anything special about anything else in the song. Ah well. At least she sounds good XD

기억 (Original Mix) is basically the same as the version earlier on the disc, only missing Tablo’s rapping section. It’s basically the same, but one would probably enjoy it more if they didn’t like Tablo’s part in the rap version.

The last two tracks on the album are 텔레파시 (Instrumental) and 미워하다 (Instrumental).

In conclusion, Younha’s second album, Someday, is truly an excellent CD. This is not something I throw around lightly, but I would go so far as to say that this album is one of the best I’ve heard in recent memory. For anyone who enjoys K-Pop but has not listened to Younha’s music before, or would like to start listening to K-Pop, do not miss out on this fantastic release by an immensely talented artist.

Album Grade: A


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