Despite reading all those Homin fanfics in my spare time, I did not know until yesterday that TVXQ had actually released new singles in Japan: STILL and One More Thing. Along with downloading SHINee’s Sherlock, I also downloaded TVXQ’s new singles.
As soon as I heard Homin’s gritty voices, I think I fell in love. In love with two ballads, no less. Whereas I am holding off reviewing SHINee’s Sherlock so it can ‘grow on me’; SHINee was not love at first listen.
Gorgeous cinematography, simple but sophisticated, as always. Gorgeous-looking men, carefully done hair and natural makeup, as always. The woman is not a typical Japanese ideal beauty, and I think that testifies to the good taste Avex has. Nonetheless, the PV is not really special unto itself, it provides a lot of eye-candy, i.e. ‘looking-into-your-eyes’ shots for those of us who have a secret burning passion for Shim Changmin and Jung Yunho. So while it may not be a deep or exciting video, it certainly satisfies on those levels.
The song itself is a slower midtempo ballad in which neither Changmin nor Yunho are subjected to vocal gymnastics, but rather relaxed and written for their lower registers. The climax comes when Changmin sings, “I love you,” at 3.32s. It is a soft, beautiful declaration. I admire this final product very much, because it shows how TVXQ is able to bring a song without much bells and whistles and still manage to have a compelling interpretation.
Again, their voices harmonize extremely well, melting into each other and making it sound cohesive. Some people may find offense with this, but I am glad that Changmin and Yunho were the ones who stayed behind and formed duo, as their voices are uniquely suited to each other. They support each other, which I find refreshing after considering groups like BIGBANG and SHINee, the members of whom have distinctive voices, distinctive enough to sound disjointed. TVXQ sounds whole.
One More Thing
*no one has successfully uploaded this song to YouTube or any video-sharing site I could think of, therefore, if you would like to listen to this song, you must download it. There are two versions: a regular mix and the Sakura mix.
One More Thing is a faster midtempo ballad than STILL, but yet it still retains that relaxed vibe as the song has also been arranged for their lower registers. As with STILL, there are minimal voice alterations, their voices are crisp and sharp as they are backed with pulsing electronic layering underneath.
There are a bit more vocal gymnastics in this, yet it is still not over-done. Though, sometimes the chorus feels a bit strained as they sing in the higher register. I find this to be a recurring theme in Japanese pop music, so I am not entirely sure if it is just a Japanese idiom to have singers sound strained in the upper register. Yet, their voices in this song is not unlike chocolate, especially the ones with espresso beans inside. A bit crunchy, a bit sweet; it wakes you up, and you savor it. Refreshing.
As I listen to more of Homin TVXQ, I am realizing why it is I love their body of work so much– they have a mature, yet flexible sound. They can sing lullabies, dance music, ballads, all with the same aplomb. They can be overly sentimental, overly aggressive, overly cute. Their voices and styles can accommodate it all.
Comparing to SHINee, SHINee ballads are either cute or overly emo. They cannot sing relaxing ballads like STILL, or even overly aggressive music like Why? Keep Your Head Down. SHINee has never promoted a ballad; Romantic had a brief run, but it was only for a few performances. However, Homin can easily sing Romantic, Quasimodo, Stand By Me; Homin can easily promote ballads alongside dance music, such as Before U Go. To top it off, Homin sounds like a group of singers. To me, SHINee sounds like two singers, one struggling to be a singer, one who may be a singer but his voice does not match, and the last one, well, he is not destined to be a singer.
As I have deeper into the Homin fandom, I see many people lamenting, saying that this passage or that passage could have used JYJ more delicate voices, that Yunho is not a strong singer. Yunho more than holds his own here in STILL / One More Thing; singing is not all about hitting every note technically, but also matching the tone of the song and the group members with whom you are singing. Yunho does all of that extremely well. If Taemin could ever reach Yunho’s level, I would probably shut my mouth and never say anything bad about his singing ever again.
I am beginning to understand TVXQ’s claim as the Gods of the East.