The Korea Herald


Hwang Chi-yeol returns as heart-stirring balladeer

By Hong Dam-young

Published : April 25, 2018 - 09:41

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Hwang Chi-yeol, one of the best-known tear-jerking balladeers in K-pop history, has returned with an ever-deeper voice to deliver emotion in a new EP.

Drenched in heart-melting strings and melodies, Hwang’s second EP, “Be Myself,” is led by “The Only Star,” a poignant ballad displaying the singer’s romantic side.

Likening his lover to his only star, he wails, “I only think about you. ... Why does my heart beat?/Because you are my star,” in the syrupy song penned by the singer himself. 

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

“I think this is the first time I wrote a bright song in my career, as I’ve always talked about sorrow and heartbreaking feelings in my past works,” said Hwang at a media showcase for “Be Myself” in Seoul on Tuesday.

“I wrote it while thinking about the smiley faces of my fans.”

The album is his second EP, following “Be Ordinary,” his first EP released in June last year that led him to become the best-selling solo artist in the first half of that year. While his breakout album, which put a decisive end to his years as an obscure singer, shed light on his ordinary life, the new EP focuses more on his own emotions, he said. He also shared he watched several movies in the process of creating the album, which helped him boost his raw emotion and add some drama into the songs. 

The seven-track ballad album also includes “Memories” and “Be Back,” composed and written by Hwang. 

“I participated in making this album to expand my musical spectrum and color. I think my voice appeals to people and embraces their hearts, drawing emotions out of them. ‘Be Myself’ is like a starting point where I want to begin molding my own musicality,” he said.  

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

Hwang also expressed how much the Tuesday event meant to him, as it marked his first ever showcase held in Korea. Hwang, who has a large following in Chinese-speaking countries, has showcased his new albums in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, but hasn’t held such an event in his home country.

“I thought showcases were only for idol stars. I am so grateful for having this first showcase in Korea in my life,” he said.

Following his debut in 2007 with full-length album “Five Sense,” the now 35-year-old singer lingered in obscurity for nearly a decade. He appeared on various TV and radio shows for a year after his debut, but disappeared from the stage when his previous management company closed due to financial difficulties.

But he experienced a reversal of fortunes in 2016 when China‘s Hunan TV invited him to participate in the fourth season of “I Am a Singer,” a Chinese adaptation of the popular South Korean singing competition program. Having snatched the No. 1 spot on two seasons of the Chinese program, Hwang became a sensation across the country and won the title: “Man of the Continent.”

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

Asked by a Chinese reporter if he has plans for a Chinese release, Hwang said he has continuously been writing songs for Chinese fans.

“If I have a good chance, I would like to sing ‘The Only Star’ in Chinese. I’ve also been seeking opportunities to work on new Chinese songs,” said Hwang, who also revealed his hope to learn Chinese traditional music to incorporate in his upcoming Chinese releases.

“As I’ve received so much love from Chinese fans, I would like to communicate with them more intimately,” he added.

Hwang has recently appeared in KBS2’s idol rebooting competition show “The Unit” as a mentor. He also hosted the second season of KBS music competition “Immortal Songs,” alongside Shin Dong-yup, Jung Jae-hyung and Moon Hee-jun.