Rock group Buzz has been around for over a decade, not particularly well known to international audiences but beloved in Korea for their emotive ballads. 2017 has seen plenty of ballads in K-pop, but we haven’t really had one of those big, bombastic Lim Chang Jung-style belters. That dry spell has officially ended with the stirring, ridiculously gorgeous “The Love“.
I’m a sucker for a no-holds-barred ballad, but the style only works if the performer has a voice that’s up to the task. Luckily, “The Love” is all about Min Kyung Hoon’s soaring vocal. I’m not sure that we’ve heard a better straight-up vocal performance this year. His rich tone drips all over the ambitious melody, tackling a never-ending string of sustained power notes. Just when you think he can’t reach any higher, the song finds a new crest. I love vocalists like this, whose powerful tone seems to be rooted in somewhere deeper then themselves. K-pop doesn’t necessarily give us many lighters-in-the-air stadium moments, but “The Love” is definitely aiming for (sad) anthem territory.
There are more than a fair share of K-pop fans who automatically skip over the ballads. I can be guilty of this too. So often Korea prefers an overly maudlin sentiment, which doesn’t always make for a sonically diverse set of tracks. But if any 2017 ballad is going to be worth your time, it’s this. “The Love” feels like Jung Joonyoung as performed by Roy Kim … and are there really many things better than that?