[Review] Yoon Ji Sung (ex-WANNA ONE) makes solo debut with paint-by-numbers ballad “In The Rain”

Like it or not, the post-Wanna One floodgates are about to open. I just hope the slew of upcoming solos aren’t all ballads. I can’t think of any better way to kill momentum than with a paint-by-numbers K-pop ballad, and Yoon Ji Sung’s “In The Rain” is pretty much that.

In Wanna One, he acted as the personality-rich leader and eldest member. I hardly expected him to drop an intense dance track or hip-hop banger, but “In The Rain” doesn’t cover any new ground within the well-worn male ballad territory.

Jisung was forced to make a quick solo debut because of impending military enlistment, and I would have loved to hear what he’d come up with if given more time. Rather than attempt to forge his own musical identity, it feels as if he was saddled with the most generic of wistful K-pop tropes.

I get why his agency went with a ballad. Jisung has a warm, comforting tone that works well with this kind of material. His performance here is hushed and expressive without ever going overboard. He’s more than capable of delivering a solo track, which can’t be said for everyone. However, there’s only so much that can be done within this specific template. Most of the arrangement is pure “drama soundtrack” sentimentality, down to the lilting strings and climactic power note. Its chorus elicits a few sparks by upping the tempo and supplying a sing-along melody, but it’s not quite enough to make “In The Rain” stand out.

Listeners’ appreciation will likely hinge on how connected they feel to the artist himself. And that’s where Wanna One’s insane popularity will help make this song successful.

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