Fans worldwide are reeling over Younha‘s recently released sixth studio album, End Theory. What really is a great album overall, is notably anchored by its wonderful title track, “Stardust”.
I just want to set it straight from the jump — this song is absolutely stunning. One of the best ballad releases of the year and it is not even a debate. It is perfect and I don’t really have much else to say, but let’s try and make sense of why that is.
The song immediately puts you into an ethereal realm. The soundscape created by the sustained low synths, the guitars, and the eventual string orchestra lifts you off the ground. The 4-note motif is simple, yet is expressed with so much depth. Though the motif and progression never changes, the addition of multiple voices coming in and out play off the motif so tastefully that it only accentuates its execution.
That same 4-note chord progression is present for the majority of the song, and yet it still never sounds repetitive, not only because of the masterwork orchestration, but because of the perfect melody which is usually found on top. The verse and chorus melodies are exactly the same. The only difference is that the chorus is sung an octave higher. By the time the first chorus hit, I knew this release was a true triumph.
Writing the perfect melody is something that you can’t really learn how to do. You can learn certain techniques which are generally successful, and you can apply certain melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic rules which may be recommended, but to truly write a perfect melody is one of music’s biggest mysteries. You can follow all the steps possible, and your melody can turn out pretty good, but there is a select few that really take you to the next level. This song features one of those select few melodies. It’s truly incredible. That is without even getting into the beautiful arrangement. Sometimes it’s best to just shut up and listen and appreciate it for what it is. Also, don’t even get me started on the lyrics. I’m crying.
Call me crazy, but this isn’t just one of the best ballad releases of the year. This is one of the best ballads I’ve ever heard in my life. A masterpiece.