R&B doesn’t get the attention it should in the Kpop world, but one way to make a name for yourself is to release a debut album as good as Crush’s Crush On You. Given the pedigree of his collaborative work, we couldn’t resist the chance to review this album. And we’re glad we did. Crush On You is a must purchase for anyone with even a passing interest in R&B.
Who Is Crush?
Crush, or Shin Hyo Seob, is an R&B artist with a smooth and soulful voice. He’s a relative newcomer in terms of solo releases, but he’s been active as a producer and collaborator for a while now, working with artists like Zion.T, Gary, Dynamic Duo, and Supreme Team. It’s that collaborative work that has brought Crush to the spotlight. In a self-interview, Crush referred to the opportunities he’s had to work with big-name artists like Zion.T as a “gift of life.” And Crush On You is very much alive.
Though “Sometimes” was released digitally in April, the leading single is “Hug Me.” You wouldn’t know by the video that Crush is primarily an R&B artist, and that’s by design. In “Hug Me,” Crush dances in front of fancy cars with a troop of backup dancers; he does choreography in a box. All of this is in service of bringing a lesser known genre into the accepted bounds of Kpop. What’s impressive is that nothing is lost in translation. The structure of the song moves easily between slow snaps and a powerful electronic drum beat, the former often visualized by artistic solo shots, the latter shown in group scenes. We can’t ignore the refrain, either. For each “hug,” the “h” is fairly silent and the “g” sound is maybe intentionally blended into a “ck,” hinting at the potentially euphemistic lyrics. The pelvic thrusts in the music video leave little doubt. Overall, it’s a strong single that will stand up well in the current market.
[Update] The newly released Street Version of "Hug Me" will appeal to Kpop fans who appreciate a bit more narrative arc to their music videos! We're glad Amoeba Culture is pulling out all the stops for an artist that clearly deserves some recognition.
For a debut album, Crush On You is surprisingly whole and complex. “Whatever You Do” is a ballad with a Frank Ocean feel to it. “Hey Baby” is a pop song that could have been designed for Michael Jackson. It may be that Crush’s previous work has allowed him to leapfrog the usual slow steps of a debut artist. Our only critique is that we would have liked to see more than one collaboration with a female artist. Even still, the album has the maturity of a third or fourth album, with something in it for everyone. From the first measure of “I Fancy You,” your body will be pushed unaware into a slow body roll. And you won’t stop grooving until the end of the album.
Crush On You is a stunning achievement, and will surely propel Crush forward in his career. We’re calling it early: we’ll see Crush again during awards season, and again next year with his second album. Go give Crush On You a listen. You’ll be glad you did.