Recently I was listening to compilations of Davichi’s songs on Youtube, and I came across “Can You Hear Me” from the original soundtrack for Korean musical Tears of Heaven that premiered in early 2011. I had heard of it then, or maybe a few times in the past – in addition to casting Lee Haeri, the musical featured Kim Junsu of JYJ as its protagonist. For some reason, after having casually heard this track a few times over the years, this time around, the track stuck – just the epic grandeur of the melody and the dramatic effect produced by the instrumental joined with the musical actors’ vocals and dynamics was mesmerizing. As the producers called the musical one of Broadway caliber, I think this track really demonstrates the high quality and grand scale of this production (the musical was composed by Frank Wildhorn). (You can learn more about the musical here.)
I think I like the actual musical version above Lee Haeri’s recorded version, because the addition of the male voice (turning the track into a duet) really makes the track more lovely, especially as the female and male seemingly exchange dialogue through their interjections, and the harmonies reinforce the unity and shared mindset expressed in the lyrics. Also, the choir heightens the drama of it. But nonetheless, Lee Haeri makes her studio version an enjoyable, albeit different, listen in its own right.
The above video is from a mini-concert for the musical, featuring Jung Sangyoon and Lee Haeri as the leads. Below is an English version performance by Brad Little and Lee Haeri, and below that is the audio of Lee Haeri’s solo studio version.
Although I still can’t completely grasp the meaning of the lyrics of Zitten’s Try, I feel like its title and the sole English word in its lyrics, “try,” says a lot. The song’s instrumental reminds me a bit of pep band music meant to rally its listeners into trying again after failure, although admittedly, I can’t quite justify this with the lyrics as I find myself struggling to understand them even after having let them sit in my brain (and a draft of this post) for a few weeks. I know I’ve said this before (and perhaps it arises partly due to my lack of understanding of the Korean language), but I find Zitten’s songs to have an unearthly character, not only in the instrumentals but in the lyrics – they can be hard to grasp and feel intangible, but that quality gives them a unique charm. Also, something to note in reading my (already flawed) translation – I’m not sure if the song is imperative, overall addressing listeners as “you” and telling them to try, or if it is declarative, overall telling the story of someone who learned to try. (A live performance of Try is above; an audio version of it [and its translation] is below the cut.) Continue reading
A relatively simple song, “First Love” was composed by Kim Dongryul for Exhibition’s third album, Graduation, summoning the end of Kim Dongryul’s collaboration group with Seo Dongwook. Wikipedia claims that the track was fittingly composed by Kim Dongryul when he was fourteen years old. Kind of like “That Day from Long Ago,” “First Love” has a pensive quality in its prolongation of certain lyrics that conveys the thoughtful, reasoned reflection of the speaker on his past.
Despite having worked on three different translations this week, I couldn’t find one that I was confident I could express clearly enough to publish, so I began to translate this song. Not to undermine the elegance and insight with which this song demonstrates the feelings of a first love, I was able to translate it with relative ease in its repeated use of simpler syntax, which may or may not be intentional in illustrating the more foolish and simplistic thoughts that characterize a first love. On another hand, perhaps I found these lyrics rather straightforward because compared to the three others that I worked on, I have listened to this song somewhat consistently over the past few weeks and months.
Another Lee Jeok song. Well, kind of. It’s Lee Jeok’s cover of Yoon Jongshin’s “That Day from Long Ago” for Yoon Jongshin’s “Monthly Melody” of December 2013. This cover, like Sung Sikyung’s cover of “Tomorrow’s Things to Do,” stuck to me for a while and has remained a song I enjoy listening to even as I happen upon new releases or old songs for the first time. There’s a solemn, sorrowful quality to that oddly draws my attention. Maybe it isn’t so odd that I like this song if my previous translations pose any indication of my music taste (and enjoyment of ballads), but this song feels especially slow. Perhaps because of the slow, pulsed piano notes in the instrumental and the sustained notes in the song. There’s an encumbered, dragging pace to it as if something heavy (emotions?) is being protracted and stretched as far as possible, so much so that you linger on every step you take as you bear a heavy weight. I almost feel as if the song drags me with it, making me a bit solemn or sad with each listen even if I’m not originally in a downcast mood. And is it weird that I kind of like the feeling of being slowed down and weighed down by this song? Or maybe it’s just that I feel like I can relate to it.
With this song, I posted a few translation notes that I thought worthy of mention under the cut. Also under the cut is Yoon Jongshin’s original version from 1993. It definitely has a quality different from Lee Jeok’s version, and I think it’s in a higher key (correct me if I’m wrong).
To be honest, when I first heard With You, the title track on Lee Jeok’s fourth album “Love” (2010), the only part of the lyrics I understood was that which talked about being happy and empowered just by being with the “you” mentioned. And although I liked the melody, I didn’t quite enjoy the heavy guitar and drums instrumental that comes into the song around the chorus. But after taking a closer look at the lyrics and understanding them, I realized that the heavy guitar and drums instrumental actually meaningfully reflects the lyrics. It seems that coming to an understanding of song lyrics does much to create or further my enjoyment of a song. The performance is above, with the audio and lyrics below.
For the ‘Autumn Men’ special of Immortal Song 2 last year, mixed martial artist Kim Donghyun paired with Lee Haeri to cover Kim Sungho‘s Reminiscence (1989). While it evidently is originally meant for one male singer, referring to ‘그녀,’ or ‘her’ in various parts of the song, Kim Donghyun and Lee Haeri adapted it so that it would fit a broken couple. The second verse of the song was moved from after the first chorus to before the first chorus to immediately follow the first verse. Kim Donghyun sang the first verse from the male’s perspective and Lee Haeri sang the second verse from the female’s perspective (the second verse didn’t need much alteration – the one mention of ‘her’ in it was changed to ‘he’). Not much else was changed, except for the addition of the line ‘그때 우리가 어렸었기에,’ or ‘We were so young at the time‘ after ‘그때는 너무나 어렸었기에,’ or ‘I was so young at the time’ and the repetition of the line ‘때로는 눈물도 흘렀지,’ or ‘At times, I cried,‘ both for emphasis. (Also, Lee Haeri had some ad-libs.)
I hadn’t heard of Kim Donghyun before, so I couldn’t tell that he wasn’t a singer until I realized that Lee Haeri was given all the ad-lib parts and during the chorus the two both sang, he actually accidentally sang the harmony with Lee Haeri while he was supposed to sing the melody. Nonetheless, the performance was enjoyable and Lee Haeri’s vocals were breathtaking as usual.
[Unfortunately, the video cannot be embedded, but the performance starts at about 46:40.]
I’m not quite sure why but listening to the line ‘그때는 너무나 어렸었기에 서로의 소중함을 알지 못했네/ [We] were so young at the time, we didn’t know each other’s value,’ especially sung with the harmony, makes my heart ache. The full translation is below: Continue reading
It isn’t quite the timing of graduation as the song title implies, but recently I have been listening a bit to Kim Dongryul, and this track was one I found to be interesting, particularly because Kim Dongryul wrote this song with his own impending graduation from Yonsei University in mind, and I felt the song’s lyrics intriguingly relatable to a [romantic] break-up in addition to a graduation. Something about the uncertainty of ends to things like graduations often makes me afraid or at least uneasy about them – I’m not sure if this only pertains to a graduation, or ends in general, but there’s a feeling of knowing that you need to move onto different (and perhaps greater) things twinged with hesitancy because you don’t know what exactly lies ahead and what exactly you will be leaving behind in going forward.
Some other Kim Dongryul songs that I have been listening to, some of which I’ll hopefully get around to translating sometime soon are ‘출발,’ ‘첫사랑,’ ‘그대가 너무 많은,‘ ‘귀향’ and ‘하늘 높이’ (Sorry for not translating the song titles, as I am unsure of some of the translations myself.) Continue reading