Posts Tagged ‘ personal favourite ’

#2 Rainy Days – One Way

One Way – Rainy Days (English unplugged ver.)

One Way are… I guess you could term them an indie/independent r’n’b hip-hop group? Three friends who work together writing and producing music not just for themselves but for a number of other artists as well. They take a lot of inspiration from the classic jazz and soul musicians and if you listen to this or this, you can really hear the influence in not only the song choice but also Peter’s vocals.

Fluent in both English and Korean, the tracks on their mini-album and full-length album combine these two languages in a perfectly fluid fashion, easily conveying a broad spectrum of emotions with a song suitable for any mood that takes you.

Rainy Days features Junsu of 2PM and, in the unplugged version, the acoustic guitar is played by Charm Park. The soft lull of the guitar and the backing track of gentle rainfall don’t dominate the song or detract from the stunning harmonised vocals of Chance (Michael Kim) and Peter (Peter Hyun) during the chorus or the carefully paced rap of the group’s youngest member, Cho Junyoung (known on stage as Young Sky). Instead, they enhance the song, adding to overall mood and meshing seamlessly with the varying vocal layers.

Considering how difficult translating back and forth between Korean and English can be, given that many words and phrases don’t always translate perfectly or have an English/Korean translation, Rainy Days has a smooth composition and is easily comprehensible, regardless of whether you listen to the English unplugged version or the Korean edition. The empathetic song flows as easily as rain downhill, no hitches or awkward pauses. Despite the melancholy tones in the lyrics and the music, this song is surprisingly calming. It has a cathartic feel to it, a sense of release from the tight knot in your chest from a tough day or a bad break-up; after listening to Rainy Days, there’s the sense that things can be approached with a more level-head and a clearer outlook.

For the last few years, I’ve had people ask me ‘How can you listen to music in a language that you don’t understand?’ The answer is really quite simple: music itself is a language – and that language is universal. The Hallyu Wave is making Korean music more approachable for many western fans and Japanese music has long been popular with western audiences (consider Japanese pop, Japanese rock, visual kei, etc), if only in a niche audience which has grown over the years.

To understand the language of the songs that foreign artists produce is easy enough; people post translated lyrics daily. But to understand the music emotionally is all up to you; how a song makes you feel, what mindset it puts you in, whether you like it or not shouldn’t be dependent on if you can translate the words you hear instantaneously. If that weren’t the case, then how could anyone, as an example, enjoy dubstep or wordless dance music? Personally, I find it elitist to want to limit a certain language or genre to a specific culture, gender or country. The artists themselves wish to expand globally and, even as a writer, there is always that idea in the back of our head that it would be really cool to have a piece of work translated into another language.

Regarding One Way, it could be said that they are a perfect gateway into Korean music with their talented blending and weaving of both languages. Their music is approachable on most levels, fusing pop with hip-hop, jazz, r’n’b, soul, dance beats. One of the greatest things about One Way is their cohesiveness as a group whilst still maintaining their own individuality and being able to hold their own as a solitary unit. That’s not to say they’re perfect; everyone has off-days but One Way are constantly learning, experimenting with and experiencing new things.

It’s a lesson all artists can learn from – musicians, visual artists, writers. To improve our work and better ourselves, we have to be willing to put in the effort and hard work, push our boundaries and stray from our comfort zones without clutching a map as a safety-net.