[review/kpop] Jonghyun, Immortal Song: ep. 1

review ep. 2, review ep. 3

The Jonghyun stan in me finally won, and I will be doing a series of three posts on Jonghyun’s performances on Immortal Song 2. A little late, but ah, what else is new? I’m a bad fangirl.

Some things to keep in mind when you read this post: (a) I am not a professional singer nor do I have a deep knowledge about singing (b) this is my opinion only, you’re free to have your own and debate as you see fit, but if you disagree, be respectful. (c) Jonghyun sang live, and didn’t sit in a recording studio for days to get it perfect, unlike the original singers, so yes, these reviews are inherently unfair.

Performance 1: One’s Way Back, originally sung by Naul



For this song, Jonghyun really tried to stay faithful, so much so that in the beginning of listening to the original song, I did a double-take and almost thought it was Jonghyun singing it. Yet, as I predicted, where Jonghyun and Naul diverge is how they sing the high parts: Naul is more smooth (think Usher R&B), while Jonghyun let loose his wailing. Jonghyun’s wailing is a characteristic of his performance style, but this time, it didn’t work for me, because it’s such a disconnect from the rest of the Naul-emulation performance. While Naul is more cool about this “I really hate you for leaving without a word“, Jonghyun sounds like he’s whining about it. Jonghyun did have a bit of falsetto in there, but he didn’t follow through, which was disappointing.

However, Jonghyun is incredibly good at emoting. Albeit whining was about the extent of his emoting to me, he was extraordinary about conveying it with his body language and voice. Sometimes even the correct emotion–anguish–shined through; in the part where he sings, “if I was able to hold your hand“, I really wanted to pat his head and tell him I’ll hold his hand.

Though I did say that Jonghyun sounded like Naul, in the beginning, Jonghyun’s melisma (a group of notes sung to one syllable of text) was noticeably weaker, and he sang more softly for the first thirty seconds or so– I sort of get it, building up anticipation, getting softer –> louder –> to an emo-soft ending. So what happened was that Naul, singing fully in the beginning, drew me in faster and kept my attention while with Jonghyun, I was thinking, “when’s the party starting?”

Performance 2: One Million Roses, originally sung in Korean by Kim Jung Eun 



I did not like the original mainly because I thought the sound engineering was horrible. The low guitars/synth combined with that low female voice made it hard for me to distinguish the melody. So I was a little puzzled that this sort of song was an ‘immortal song.’

Again, Jonghyun began singing softly, which irritated the heck out of me– building anticipation does not mean one big crescendo through the whole song, and then a dramatic subito piano at the end. Granted, Jonghyun doesn’t have to break out the wailing at the beginning, but he doesn’t have to rely on such a repeated and trite technique.

What impressed me this time around was the low voice Jonghyun showed us, reminiscent of the voice Onew uses to sing Nessun Dorma. In SHINee, though Jonghyun can sing just about everything, he gets relegated the high parts, and Onew takes care of the low parts. Hence, I was happy to hear this new range of his voice. S.M. should work on developing that lower range more on Jonghyun, because he sounds very controlled, and there were several points where I was thinking Jonghyun could have wailed more. Ironic, complaining about Jonghyun’s wailing before and then demanding more here. Different songs, different requirements, different atmosphere; the instrumentalists this time around were really egging on Jonghyun, but he did not respond well. For example, after the high note ‘climax’, the instrumentalists still kept up the same pace, while Jonghyun fell back, probably thinking about the subito piano too far in advance. So thus, the ‘climax’ felt like a preclimax, but when nothing happened after that,  I felt a bit dissatisfied afterwards.

Final Grades (0-100, 100 best, 50 as average, roughly anything 75+ means I was impressed a lot)

  • Perf. 1: 70.
  • Perf. 2: 74.

**if interested, click to read the notes I took as I watched the original and Jonghyun’s performances:
**if any video links are broken, let me know!

notes as I watched:

One’s Way Back by Naul http://youtu.be/oxxQ4uOrd3E

What a nice piano beginning :3
Wow, Naul does remind me of Jonghyun, the breathing is similar and timbre, but he has less of a screech
the high parts feel fleshed out and whiny
random sax part in the middle? piano relegated to chords, blech
reminds me of R&B at the end, a little bit of breakup

the piano part gets overlaid with Jonghyun’s monologue
his beginning melisma is WEAK!
beginning is weak, not as gripping as the original (haunting?)
if I was able to hold your hand lyric. that is just so, so, so good. good emoting
more a gritty voice that morphs into screech .___.
more characteristic Jonghyun wailing, total departure from smooth song
the lower parts he kills it if he abandons his wailing
Jonghyun has always been great at emoting, The rain blows across my cheek lightly.. Jonghyun vein time! but he almost missed the note. the ending part that was supposed to me more R&B ish smooth wasn’t smooth :P

A Million Roses http://youtu.be/N7xh364s7YY

rather grungy sounding, voice so low :( sometimes I can’t distinguish it properly from guitars
same type of song as One’s Way Back, haunting
very relaxed, the singer
depends on what kind of genre you like, it does have a singable quality, but I don’t think it would have been classic :P if it wasn’t chosen

again, weak beginning.. building anticipation does not mean singing softly
ugh the editing sucks, always during the song
but I do like the gradual blossoming theme
Jonghyun needs to have this lower voice more, it’s lovely, on par with Onew or even better
I get reminded of Westerns rather than Russia
seems rather hurried, the arrangement is a little faster
rather angry at the end but that contrasts with the “without hatred theme”
lol all the closeups of Minho (he has longer eyelashes than meeeeeee)
ending vocalizations were good, but felt they were so controlled, he could have let go, and made it more waily :P
the ahjumma (Shin Soobong) leans forward when the music stops! she’s definitely invested in his perf.
ending is weak :(
this arrangement is bettur


16 thoughts on “[review/kpop] Jonghyun, Immortal Song: ep. 1

  1. yay! and argh! youre getting too advanced TT_TT i dont understand half the terminology you use for critiquing the songs now TT_TT

    • XD darn. What were terms you didn’t understand?

      “subito piano” means “immediately soft”. lol, I honestly couldn’t think of a better term to describe it.


      • yes, I’ve taken piano for ~12 years and took AP Music Theory and also passed ABRSM’s grade 5 theory, grade 8 piano practical :D so I’m sort of in the know but at the same time, listening ear isn’t that great.. though this year I’ve developed an especially sensitive ‘you’re playing off-key’ due to playing with a bunch of string/woodwinds.

        I’ll be auditioning for lessons in piano this year :)

  2. I tried to watch the videos without reading your comments first, because apparently your faithful follower TSLuna thinks you and I are very alike. XD *shrugs*

    Again, I emphasize that I admire Jonghyun for being able to control his high notes (or even getting up there in the first place), but I definitely went O____O (if I could make those O’s bigger, I would) at his second performance. It’s like Key. No matter how diva he is, his ‘man’ voice drives me up the wall, making me want to hear more of it. XD

    Well, unforunately, I wasn’t quite taking notice of Jonghyun’s singing style, even though that’s what the show’s supposed to be about and whatnot. O__o I mean, even the second song, I was more listening to the pretty instruments and arrangement of the music. XD (Guilty band geek here. *raises hand meekly*) So I didn’t quite read into these performances enough to try and compare what my thoughts with yours.

    But I can at least comment on what I think about what you think. ^__^ So yes, his wailing high notes. I feel like sometimes he doesn’t know what else to do with his voice since no one else can reach that upper register. He’s all alone. :P Then, your comment on building anticipation. It’s very true. (The easiest example is a gradual change of tempo.) I feel like that’s all I ever hear from him. .___. Personally, I hate it when singers sing /too/ softly, because then I can’t tell who the hell is singing. XD (I have fun when it comes to identifying voices.)

    • ahaha ! maybe our difference lies in how we treat music, I treat it more analytically because I’m just more … anal … I honestly can’t name a singer whose voice I really like … but pianists, the list goes on and on..

      I agree, about the second song.. I felt the instrumentalists & Jonghyun were in discord, and not properly interacting with each other. Jonghyun used to play in a band before he was ‘scouted’.. so I always thought he would be more inclined to Immortal Song’s live instrumentals, but at times, they outshined him and he didn’t keep pace with them. It might be because as an idol, he rarely sings with a live band.. sigh.. even their performances with TRAX still had heavy synth/MR underneath..

      I’m just worried SM is pushing Jjong around and the others doing schedules, rather than taking the time to focus on improving their skills– so Jjong is always stuck using that soft-loud-soft method.

      garghh.. sometimes I still have difficulty between Taemin and Jjong in some sections of ‘Lucifer’ album. ;___;

      Michelle ^^

      • Yes, that might be the difference. :o I’m an amateur pianist (took classroom type lesson with electronic keyboards for about ~5 years) and played the flute for eight years, so one would think I should be able to analyze music since as a flautist, I’m actually /part/ of the arrangement. XD But I always liked listening to how the parts fit together more. That’s why I love Replay. :3 All their voices coming at me at once. XD

        It’s definitely different singing along to an accompaniment. >.> Anyway, the voice definitely has to be loud enough. I thought Jaejoong was Jonghyun once because he was singing too softly. XD

  3. XD It doesn’t want to let me post all of my comment sometimes. The middle got cut out.

    It’s definitely different singing along to an accompaniment. >< I remember our lead singer in the school's chorus very nearly screwed up our national anthem one year at graduation because she couldn't follow our band's cue for her line. D:

    It's not only SM, but it seems even they don't want to take the time to invest in their groups further. They invested enough to make a solid debut for them, but now everyone's just doing the same thing. Did you see CSJH's comeback with Dana and Sunday? The song was so simple that it was kind of disappointing to know that there could have been more 'stuff.' Today's Kpop is so different from five-years-ago Kpop.

  4. no, I didn’t see CSJH’s comeback <– I suck horribly at keeping up with kpop, because I assume most of it is pretty crappy (good assumption for most cases!). I agree. Today's kpop is so much more about the fast thrill and cheap ride than for the quality, especially so for SM. :(


    • Actually, speaking of which, have you heard Jang Ri In’s duet with Jonghyun before? (If you haven’t, you can go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC7Sh7l1ipo) He doesn’t sound like the Jonghyun I’m used to. O.o Though I could guess a couple reasons why (i.e. he’s singing in a lower register, it was before he debuted, etc.). It’s interesting how he would definitely have to at least sound the lower parts here since he’s singing with a girl (whose voice is obviously higher than his). It’s kind of like Jang Ri In’s duet with Junsu. It’s not that Jonghyun and Junsu have to necessarily take their own personal lower register, just that it’s kind of odd when I finally hear someone sing higher over them for once. XD

    • I know whatchu mean. When I listened to it the first time.. I was like.. his thick accent is.. less thick XD he also sounds really good :( so they should let him sing more like that! apparently all the SHINee members studied Chinese before debuting.. and.. where is that nowww?!!!! sigh (lol. I may be biased because I’m Chinese.)


      • That’s what I heard, too. :P When I first found out Chinese was in their list of ‘known’ languages, I was like, ‘really!?’ But then I was watching bits and pieces of stuff, and there wasn’t really any indication that they had applied this studying to anything. XP It would have been really cool. I’m Chinese as well. ^__^ I get freaked out (in a good way) when Korean (nationality-wise) idols suddenly start speaking decent Mandarin, or even English sometimes. XD I’m so used to the idea of them, excluding SJ-M, speaking only Korean and maybe some Japanese.

  5. Pingback: [review/kpop] Jonghyun, Immortal Song, ep. 3– and an overall assessment of all three episodes « the innocent lam

  6. Pingback: [review/kpop] Jonghyun, Immortal Song: ep. 2 | the innocent lam

  7. Pingback: [review] SHINee’s 2012 Gayo Daejuns & SM The Performance’s “Spectrum” | the innocent lam

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