[Review] “Blue” provides Ha Sung Woon with a clear place in the Korean music landscape

Ha Sung Woon was one of the first out of the gate with a post-Wanna One solo debut, and was handsomely rewarded for it. I wasn’t a fan of “Bird at all, but the Korean public seemed to eat it up. As his new summer comeback began to loom on the horizon, I couldn’t imagine the song would be anything but another slice of wispy, downbeat r&b. His group Hotshot usually had an energetic hip-hop sound, but Sung Woon seems to prefer a more coffeehouse vibe.

Luckily, “Blue” proved me partially wrong. Rather than the airy, sing-song nature of “Bird,” “Blue” sees Sungwoon delivering a stronger, more vocally expressive performance. He’s still got that too-cool-for-school, DEAN-esque cadence, but the clean, open instrumental provides plenty of space for his charms to be spotlighted. He sounds especially nice during the falsetto-driven pre-chorus.

The song flirts between tempos, at its most energetic when the beat drops for the filter-heavy chorus. The hook here is simple but effective, melding a catchy vocal refrain to a comparatively dull instrumental riff. “Blue” doesn’t do anything we haven’t heard a hundred times before. The cool organ-like synth in the verses is probably the most notable production touch. But, the song has a decent build to it, and doesn’t get totally lost in the kind of melodic murk that can often characterize this style of comeback.

“Blue” feels very suited to Ha Sung Woon the artist, giving a much clearer indication of his place in the industry than February’s solo debut did.

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