Although I loved her first Korean album, this is the first time that I have written about Juniel. She's a great talent, who has an interesting journey to becoming the artist that she is today. I wanted to write about her before and didn't get the chance, so I'm glad that she released another Mini Album that I could comment on. My reviews have been lacking in female artists and groups lately, and I want to remedy that. It's not that I don't like girl groups, I just never got a chance to talk about them with all the comebacks and debuts that have been going on this year! Things in the Korean music world have been settling down since fall, at least more than the previous months, and this album is perfect for the cold and calm season that we are in.
Juniel's 2nd Mini Album 1&1, released November 20th 2012!
Like many of my favorite Korean solo artists, Juniel got her start in Japan, though she is a Korean native. Her stage name, "Juniel", combines her name "Junie/Jun Hee", and "L" for "Love" (She added the "L" later in her career). She was born in 1993, and spent her time studying abroad in Japan. She also won the music competition "Niji Iro Supernova", even though she was a Korean on a Japanese show. She has also won many "Rookie Artist" awards in Korea since her debut there. Her Japanese songs have been featured on different TV shows and Travel Commercials. Though she recently started in the K-Pop world, she is pretty well known from her music in Japan, and is respected in the Korean Music Industry. Jun Hee was writing songs herself while still in high school (including "Boy" which was featured in this album). She made her Debut in Japan during April 2011, and later debuted in Korea in April 2012! (It makes sense that one of her favorite artists is BoA, since her journey in both Japan and Korea is similar to her own.) If you don't know much about her, you may remember her most from the song that she put out with CN Blue's Jung Yong-hwa named "Fool/바보", and the MV for it. (She began her training with FNC Entertainment the same day as Yong-Hwa did, so it makes sense that they would later release duet.) Her first mini album in Korea was "My First June", which is the song that features that song, was released in June 2012, of course.
The reason that I love her music is that she isn't a Pop Star that dances and performs, but is a Singer/Songwriter, who plays her own instrument. I really respect musicians like this, and you really can tell the difference in their music. Also, I love the cover art for this album, and I think it expresses this side of her personality well. She released a music video for a song on the album, as well as an acoustic performance version of each song. The "Coffee Shop" feel of the album, and her soft and sweet sounding voice, was displayed properly by the way they marketed it. From the videos to the songs, this was a great comeback album! Similarly to FT Island's Five Treasure Box album, many of the songs on this album are remakes of her Japanese songs, along with a few new ones. Now, onto the music itself!
- Bad Man (나쁜 사람)
This is the main track for the album, as it's the one the Music Video was made for. I really love the video for this song! The house that she's in has that Mod-Retro feeling to it, with all the antiques and the pastel tones. The "dream world" part of the video reminds me of a mixture of Narnia and Wonderland, with the frosted forest and giant mushrooms. The sets were really well done, and the way that her bed, in the shots of her sleeping, matched the feeling of her dream world was a smart idea for the transitions. The video ends with the sounds of birds, which can be a combination of the woodland animals from her dream, and the sound that morning has come. Also, how could I not mention how many bunnies there are in this video, how can you not love all of those bunnies?
The song is about going through so much to make a person happy, acting how they want, ignoring your old friends, and learning how to cook, all for nothing. Because he is a "bad man", even though you did so much for him, he still broke your heart. She expresses how she hopes that he won't find love again, so no one else will hurt that way, and the she doesn't like him any more, not at all, because "you're such a bad man". It goes on about how she feels like she is going crazy, and doesn't know how something that doesn't leave a scar physically can hurt so bad. I think that the lyrics are really relatable for a lot of people, and the pain in the song sounds very raw and real. I absolutely love this song, by the lyrics of it alone, but the music also adds a lot more. The harmonizing parts, of her deeper and high ranges, are beautiful, and the music for the song matches the lyrics with a kind of Acoustic, Pop-Ballad feeling of remembering the emotions enough that there's pain, but not feeling them so deeply that the song is too melancholy. It has a nice balance, and gets an A+ from me! You can also watch the acoustic version of the song Here, which gives another dimension to the song.
- Oh! Happy Day
The next song is a huge contrast to the last one, if you couldn't tell by the title! The song is just so happy, of course, and make you want to bob your bead like a giddy school girl and sing along. Well, at least I do. This song would definitely work for someone's "happy song" that they play when the day is great, or to made the day great, and would go nicely with a "happy dance". The song sounds really cute, and I love all of the different instruments used in it. There's some electronic and synth noises, along with electric guitar, acoustic guitar, some string sounds, and different percussion noises. I love the electric guitar solo for the bridge, and how well the instruments blend together for the rest of the song. This song is the "sing along" song of the album, the "oh, oh, happy day! Happy smile, happy sun, happy life!" chorus that's in English is fun and the pronunciation is good, plus it's just so perky and bubbly sounding! The lyrics are just about enjoying life, and different fun activities in the day, like ice cream, little kids with balloons, a morning cup of coffee, and the funny part of the song, "a nice looking man asking for my number". Good going there, Junie! The Live/Acoustic Version has the same kind of warmth and happiness to it as well, and sounds great with just her and the guitar as well. Also, this song was originally released in Japanese, and rewritten in Korean for this album.
- Boy (소년)
I mentioned this song earlier because it is the one that she wrote when she was 16, and decided to add it to this album in Korean, as it was also on her first Japanese EP. I absolutely love Juniel's vocals in this song! Her higher range is beautiful, and the slight scatting parts made a great addition. You can really hear the influence of being on the same label as CN Blue and FT Island, the instrumentals on this track sound similar to their style of the older, classic rock, mixed with acoustic, sound. This is a really sweet song about her first loves, the boys from when she was younger and the innocent and simple kind of feelings they had for each other, and that shy feeling that came along with them. You can feel the happiness of the memories through the way that she sings the song, and it will put a smile on your face. You can watch the live version of this song Here, and see the genuine smile she has on her face while she plays the song. This song is also great acoustic, and that makes sense because she probably wrote it that was originally, and I like that the video starts off with her tuning the Guitar. I think this song is probably my favorite live song from the album.
- Cat Day (고양이의 하루)
The song start off with Music Box sounds, that continue throughout it. This song is so adorable and lighthearted, I think it would make a perfect cartoon Music Video. It's a day through the eyes of a pet Cat, it's that simple! Getting out of bed and stretching, watching the owner leave, being bored while they're gone, and playing with them when they get back. This song describes the personality of a House Cat perfectly (and probably my dog as well)! It's not about being fancy or complicated, the instrumental is simple strumming and the wind up music box sound. Mixed with how childlike her voice can be, this song seems like something that little kids would like to sing along with, and I do mean that in a good way. I like the song, and I also feel a bit for the Cat having to be alone, and am happy for it when the owner come back. While I feel a bit sorry for the Cat, the sound of the music makes it just sound lazy, so I'm not too concerned. The acoustic version can be found Here. Just as the last two were, this song was originally in Japanese.
- Happy Ending (해피 엔딩)
The last song on the album is "Happy Ending", it makes perfect sense, right? The Hangul for this song is literally "Hapi Ending" spelled out. The whole album is peppy and cheerful sounding, and this song is no exception, plus this is a new song that Jun Hee co-composed and wrote. I love the "Happy Ending, La-la-lalala" part of the chorus, and the "Kiss me, Kiss me, Chu" (which is the Korean sound for a kiss), and she does a good job with the english. I can tell some of the Japanese influence in this song, more than the others, yet there's still something distinctly K-Indie about it as well. I love the different instruments that are used in this one, there are different sounds for the percussion, strings, and brass sections that seem to "play together", instead of each one trying to stand out from the others. She really had a great sense of balance when it come to music, and I really appreciate that. The acoustic version (Here) is good as well, and the video is shot beautifully. I think I prefer the studio sound when it comes to this song, but the acoustic has parts when you can hear just her voice on its own, which has a good quality to it as well. It's a great ending to the album, her live "concert" videos, and this review!
That's the album! Overall, the album is really bright, and I think that it's laid back just enough to suit the Winter Season that we are in right now. I put the links for the different live versions in each song section for you to listen to, so I hope that you enjoy those versions as well as the originals if you wish! You can buy the album Here, on Kpop Plus, or online at a different store that you prefer, for about $13 with Shipping and Handling (unless you're lucky enough to live somewhere with a Korean Music Store). The great thing is that you can buy JUNIEL music from the iTunes store digitally! They have her debut album, along with this album (Here), and you can buy 1&1 for about $3 there! So make sure to check it out and give it a chance, because I think that JUNIEL is an artist to watch, for a long time. I hope that you enjoy this album as much as I did!
See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,