It’s such a thrill to write about a solo G-Dragon track. Though Big Bang has been active over the past few years, we haven’t heard from G-Dragon on his own since 2013’s brilliant ‘Coup d’Etat‘ album. But on a personal level, he was one of my first ambassadors to K-pop as a whole. I can’t think of a more arresting solo performer, able to captivate solely through the force of his charisma and boundless creativity. We’re lucky to have him back.
Though most closely associated with hip-hop, G-Dragon possesses one of my favorite vocal tones. His raw, impish performance style imbues anything he creates with a sense of character and urgency. Thus far, the anthemic “Crooked“ was the best example of just how potent this personality-fueled voice could be. “Untitled, 2014” doesn’t attempt to soar to the same musical heights, but when it comes to execution and arrangement, it’s something of a revelation. Stripped back to piano and voice, the emotional ballad carries the same stark weight as his bandmate Taeyang‘s “Eyes, Nose, Lips“ did back in 2014.
“Untitled, 2014” puts GD’s voice front and center, focusing immediately on the song’s dramatic melody. Its verses are an affecting mix of hushed and conversational, providing a dynamic mini-drama that puts equal focus on hesitation and breathing as it does the actual lyrics. But the real surprise here is the chorus, which is more bold and theatrical than I would have expected from G-Dragon. He’s not what anyone would call a “belter,” but the extended note that marks the climax of each refrain is impressively tackled with just enough strain to make the pain feel palpable. It’s not a note-perfect performance, but that little bit of pathos and frailty has always been what makes G-Dragon’s best work feel so sincere and authentic.