My girlfriend's going to kill me. She's already given me a pass on how much Kpop she has to endure on a daily basis. But ever since I've listened to Zhoumi's "Rewind," I've been repeating: "Stop. Rewind. Rewind. Rewind" every opportunity that I find. And I can't help it. It's just that catchy. And I miss that. There have been some great songs this year in Kpop, but catchy songs that stick in your mind, waiting to be released, despite yourself? They're there, but fewer and farther in-between. Enter: Zhoumi's "Rewind."
Though the video is mostly ridiculous, with Zhoumi basically behaving like the worst boyfriend in the world, the song's pop brilliance is undeniable. Even the simple choreography, dominated by simple arm swirls and finger pointing and snaps, is given legitimacy in the literal hands of Zhoumi. There's a lot of fan outrage between the Elfs and Exo-L's over Chanyeol's inclusion (and Exo fans only talking about him), which is strange, since his rap, while fine, is such a short cameo that it shouldn't illicit anything beyond a smile. People do know that Super Junior and Exo are in the same agency, right?
It's not just "Rewind," the song, that will stay with you, Rewind, the mini-album, will stay with you, far beyond what you imagined it would.
I'm listening to "Love Tonight" right now, and I'm thinking it's the best song on the mini-album, far more complex and funky than "Rewind," except that complexity may be why it wasn't picked as the promotional single. There's so much going on with the song that it's hard to hold onto, much unlike the way that I could just sing "Rewind" at a moment's notice (or least hum it). Still, where it fails in addictive pop, it makes up for as a dramatic musical composition. The most aggressive song in a more understated album.
And by understated, I don't mean somber (as the fall season often encourages), here's a mini-album bursting with life and a controlled, mature power - like with the Chinese song (Remember, Zhoumi: Super Junior M), a duet with f(x)'s Victoria that would fit perfectly in a film soundtrack, specifically a romantic comedy. The song stretches beyond its' ballad origins to something far more uplifting and hopeful. It's a must-listen - and it's great to hear Victoria in her natural language.
Even a song that doesn't go beyond a ballad (and yes, we're not crazy about ballads here at Critical Kpop, we can't help it), still will grab your attention because of Zhoumi's powerful vocals. Zhoumi's Chinese origins not only allows him the ability to transverse both countries but also allows him to play with the very different languages - giving this album, that is mostly Chinese but has Korean versions of his songs, another layer. "Without You" is a Chinese song that will make you wonder how Zhoumi has only now just debuted as a solo artist. That's all I'm saying about that.
"Why (Color Blind)" is a song that radiates with this mature energy, and with that, and most of the album, I'm almost reminded of early Boyz II Men, or maybe I'm thinking KC and Jojo? Pop with an infusion of soul. Like most Kpop (or, in this case, Chinese Kpop, or is it Cpop?), there are many allusions to western 90's music, but many of these allusions are more abstract or unformed. I think I'm especially reminded of American 90's pop with Zhoumi's Rewind because so much of the song is pop done right. "Rewind" stays with you because even beyond the addictive elements, soulful vocals, and memorable choreography, it's a wonderfully constructed song. It's a song that will make you nostalgic somehow. Abstract, I know.
Love SM or hate them, and believe me, there's a lot to hate with SM this year, they know how to produce quality work. Look at Taemin's solo debut. Or Super Junior's amazing comeback. Or even f(x)'s Red Light, which we'll always be heartbroken about. Zhoumi's solo debut shows that he has the looks, the charisma, and, most importantly, the talent, to really have a successful career throughout all of Asia. Did you see his live performance on Music Core?
He dominated that stage. While not the dancing dynamo of, say a Taemin, his slick confidence is off the charts (and how great was it to see Amber onstage with him?). Zhoumi has the presence, and with this mini-album, he has the songs, to make his solo debut truly shine through the somber fall season. My girlfriend may just kill me. "Rewind" will be staying with me for a very long time.
Timothy Moore writes from Chicago. He blogs at Read My Blog Please, and edits at Ghost Ocean Magazine. His biases are T-ara, Block B, Nine Muses, Brown Eyed Girls, and Girl's Day.