I was absolutely delighted to hear that Joy would be the next Red Velvet member to get a solo album. I wasn’t expecting that at all, so it was a wonderful and welcome surprise. Her solo debut is a little unique in that her album is actually all remakes of songs, specifically Korean tracks from the 1990’s and 2000’s. It’s an interesting choice, but also pretty logical given that Joy has done covers for drama OSTs before and they’ve been well-received. While part of me wants to see what she could do with some original music, it’s undeniable that this kind of sound is pretty much perfect for her.
“Hello” is a remake of a single by Park Hyekyung, but I personally think it suits Joy extremely well. If I hadn’t known it was a cover, I probably would have thought it was her own track to begin with. While Joy has released plenty of fun and upbeat songs with Red Velvet, the jazzy arrangement of “Hello” makes it sound very different from her group’s discography. Also, I think it really helps her shine as a singer – she has such a clean and pretty voice, and her honey vocals are the main factor in what makes this song so enjoyable. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you might know I’m not usually one for overly bright and bubbly music… but there’s something about “Hello” that’s just so darn happy and pleasant. The feel-good vibes in this song are 100% infectious, and I can’t help but smile along.
I don’t know much about Korean music outside of K-pop, especially music from the 1990’s and 2000’s, so I find “Hello” really interesting. It’s definitely quite different from what I was listening to in the U.S. back then, though to be fair I was a kid/pre-teen who was just discovering the wonders of pop. There’s definitely a nostalgic air about “Hello,” and it’s certainly nothing like what most K-pop artists are putting out these days. (Though I do feel like it’s the kind of sound the Korean general public likes, so maybe they’ve always been into this kind of music.) But while “Hello” is Korean retro, it also feels kind of timeless – like it’s the kind of song many people can enjoy no matter how old they are or what they’re going through.
My favorite part of Joy’s solo debut is by far her music video. To be honest, it almost made me cry on the first watch because I thought it was so sweet. It’s literally the stuff of Disney movies: Joy goes on a journey to reunite a lost little girl and her dog back with her family, and they bond and meet a lot of nice people along the way. (I believe it was filmed on Jeju Island, so all the gorgeous scenery is a huge plus too.) Perhaps it’s because I’m an elementary school teacher and/or at a stage of life where I want kids, but all of my initial thoughts and observations were centered around Joy’s interactions with that adorable little girl. The story was so heartwarming and endearing that it made me genuinely wish that was an accurate reflection of the world. And I’m a “glass half-empty” person, so that’s really saying something.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
In my opinion, Joy’s career as a soloist is off to a great start. Not only does she look gorgeous and sound amazing as always, she’s also taken the opportunity to show off her skill set to its fullest. She portrays a subtle but nice duality with “Hello” – her performance is high-energy and reminiscent of a musical number, but her music video focuses more on those feelings of warmth and familiarity that the song evokes. All in all, a fantastic debut. While “Hello” admittedly isn’t the kind of song that usually frequents my playlists, I enjoy it a lot. I still probably won’t listen to it regularly, but I’ll definitely put it on whenever I need a mood booster or some positive vibes.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Featured image and music video belong to SM Entertainment.