K-Pop Double Take is a weekly review column highlighting recent releases that have yet to receive the attention we feel they deserve.
Ballads are so ubiquitous in the South Korean pop music scene it can often feel like a competition to determine the performer who can emote the hardest, who has been hurt the most or who can recycle the pain into the most forceful high note.
At a certain point the seemingly endless stream of earnest ballads beginning with the same somber solo piano intro all start to run together.
But when a great ballad hits you, right in the guts, you know it right away.
And even though you might hate yourself as you find some sort of odd clear liquid welling up near your eyelids while waiting in line at the Rite Aid, the power of the song and the performer has got you.
In a lot of ways, that is the whole idea of the power ballad.
Like any great pop song, “I Want To Be Me” released on April 25 by American-born Korean vocalist Jessi of the hip-hop trio Lucky J and formerly of the group Uptown, has an emotional effect that is so powerful it seems to almost be beyond the listener’s power to resist.
Even if a power ballad heavily steeped in 1980s guilty pleasures from once-formidable classic rock acts like Heart and Chicago, Jessi sells it so hard; it is impossible not to be deeply moved by this song.
And just as you are marveling at the sheer force of her voice, the Lucky J vocalist breaks into a rap that demonstrates her clear proficiency at both art forms.
While it is impossible to into anyone’s head regarding artistic creation, it seems like there is something a little bit more than another day in the recording studio on “I Want To Be Me.” Jessi’s performance is so raw and honest it seems like maybe there’s more to that story.
Or maybe she’s just that good.
Whatever took Jessi’s vocals to such great heights on “I Want To Be Me,” it’s a sound that listeners from around the world are sure to find deeply affecting.
Your goose bumps will break the language barrier.
Watch the music video for Lucky J’s latest single “I Want To Be Me” RIGHT HERE