The Korea Herald


Eyelike: Feel the energy in Xia Junsu‘s sophomore album

By Korea Herald

Published : July 26, 2013 - 20:29

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Feel the energy in Xia Junsu‘s sophomore album

(LOEN Entertainment)

Former TVXQ member Xia Junsu’s sophomore solo album “Incredible” is an energetic 12-track record that includes a mix of genres and styles including dance, ballad, neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop.

Before the album was even released it created a buzz with the announcement that Puff Daddy’s step-son Quincy Brown would be featuring on the title-track on the album.

Indeed, the album does live up to the hype, beginning strong with “No Reason,” where Xia’s voice descends into an attractively low range that is enhanced by smooth synthesizer riffs.

“Rainy Eyes,” an R&B number and drama soundtrack-esque “Sorry” both emphasize Xia’s showy vocal skills. Lead track “Incredible” wears an up-beat electronic rhythm and catchy tune that features Quincy’s rapping, making it one of the strongest tracks on the album.

The second half of the album is filled with mostly ballads that are a letdown compared to the stellar tracks in the beginning. “11 A.M.” is possibly the best of the bunch, focusing on Xia’s voice accompanied by a simple arrangement.

Although there are indeed some duds within the album, Xia’s energy in “Incredible” is strong and shows an artist with a premier voice ready to move up in the industry as a solo artist.

By Cha Yo-rim (

Production rules in ‘Stars Dance’

Selena Gomez
“Stars Dance”
(Hollywood Records)

Selena Gomez’s new album is indeed on-trend and catchy, but does it have depth? Listeners and fans want to get to know the rising starlet better, but the album of 11 ready-made tracks by a production team seems to do little to show her creative energy.

She may have a brilliant, interesting personality, but her role in the album is more of a pretty picture than of a substantial part in the making of the songs.

“Save the Day” is a generic song about partying and having fun. Gomez’ “rapping” in “Beat” is cringe-inducing to say the least and it is questionable whether we can call it rapping or just talking slowly.

The ballad “Love will Remember,” sung to a piano accompaniment with dance beats, talks about a broken relationship, automatically making listeners connect the song with her break-up with pop superstar Justin Bieber. But other than the usual stereotypical emotions associated with heartbreak, the lyrics only scratch the surface.

There are, however, obvious gems in the album, such as “Come & Get It,” which made it to the Billboard top 10 chart with its catchy, club-ready beat. The title track “Stars Dance” is also interesting with a mix of dubstep grinds and electronica accents.

On a hot summer day the album would be great for a light listen at home or in the clubs.

By Cha Yo-rim (

At 72, Isley is smooth on 2nd solo album

Ronald Isley
“This Song Is for You”
(E1 Music)

Initially, it may feel weird listening to 72-year-old Ron Isley sing about his plans to kiss certain body parts on the song “Bed Time.” But the veteran R&B singer keeps his lustful words to a minimum for much of his new album, “This Song Is for You.”

He sings in a discreet manner on enjoyable tracks like “Dinner and a Movie,” the Bryan-Michael Cox-produced “Let’s Be Alone” and the easy listening “My Favorite Thing,” which features R&B singer Kem. Isley is a smooth character on most of his second solo album, and his voice sounds better than ever.

Isley, the lead singer of the R&B powerhouse group the Isley Brothers, co-wrote some of the trio’s past hits, and he uses those songs on his new album: “Another Night” is a rewrite of their 1983 song “Between the Sheets” and “Make Love to Your Soul” borrows from “Voyage to Atlantis.” Luckily, the new lyrics give them a fresh feel.

“This Song Is for You” does have some missteps, including the slow-tempo “Lay You Down,” an unsatisfying duet with Trey Songz. But the album mainly shows that Isley hasn‘t lost much of a step as a longtime crooner.