Music Review: Lee Hi "First Love - Part 1"

Every now and then you just need some good soul music. But, if you also need Korean music at the same time, you lower your options a bit. Then there's Lee Hi, an amazing young talent with a powerful voice, who fits your "music prescription", so to speak. I was in love with her voice when I listened to "1, 2, 3, 4", and I have to say that I was really excited when I heard about the release of her new album. She brings something new and exciting to the table. So, even though it's late, I wanted to write a review for her newest album. Let's get to it!

Lee Hi's First Love - Part 1, released March 7th 2013 

First off, because the album is being released in two parts, and I couldn't wait any longer, this review is for part one. I hope to also write about part two, once it's released. Now, a little bit about the artist.
Lee Hi was born September 23rd 1996 in South Korea. She was born with natural talent, which she honed over the years, and an amazing tone and natural rhythmic singing style. Some people know her from being the runner up on K-Pop Star on SBC, others may know her because she was a student of Simon from Simon and Martina/Eat Your Kimchi when he was an English teacher. I know her because she debuted through YG Entertainment with an incredible kick off album, and that got my attention. She won awards in the Rookie/Rising Star categories at the Golden Disc Awards and Seoul Music Awards, and also has a Triple Crown for the M-Countdown Music Show! Even tough she's new in the Korean music world, she is taking it by storm so far! As for her new album, the cover art looks really cool, the music note fake eyelashes are really a nice touch, and they did a great job marketing her unique charm. Also, I love the overall sound and theme of the music, but instead of blurting that all out right now, I'm going over each song one by one!

- Turn it Up (Intro) 

This song was pre-released by Lee Hi before the album came out, which you can listen to Here! The very beginning of the song reminds me of the title music from the old James Bond films. I'm really happy with how strong the album starts off, the vocals and music are both really powerful and soulful right off. It reminds me a bit of the way that GD and TOP's intro sounded, which makes sense because they're both from YG. Also, "Turn it up" is the perfect way to start off any CD.

- Special (Featuring Jennie Kim of YG Entertainment) 

I love the way this song starts off! The "Heartbeat-beat-beat", and the Owl-like scatting in the background, really drew my into the music from the start. Lee Hi has such a deep and rich tone to her voice, yet in this song she also shows off her higher range, which is equally as good. The guest in this song is going to be in the upcoming YG Girl Group, and they've been appearing in several recent YG albums. Jennie's voice is also great, and she was really able to harmonize with Lee Hi since their voices blend together so well. This song has more of an R&B sound than her others, and I'm impressed by the way she's able to switch styles yet still retain her own flair, and make it sound so natural! Finally, the theme of, "You are so special to me", worked really well for the song. The song is about still loving that person even though you aren't together any more. But instead of going with the bitter side of breaking up with a person, it's about the memories that you have from being together, and treasuring them.

- It's Over

This is the main song from the album, which they made the Music Video for! You can watch the MV Here, the Behind the Scenes/Making Here, and the Comeback Stage/Live Performance Here! First, let me say that I am absolutely in love with everything about this video! So far, it's one of my favorite videos from the month, and the year! It's quirky, has a cute theme, and there's a giant blue bear that dances and dresses up like Taeyang and G-Dragon. There's also tons of sweets, including a cereal box and ice cream cone that get up and dance with Lee Hi, and gummy bears that the big bear cannibalizes. The whole thing was super adorable and funny, including the dance, and the way they dress Lee Hi is really perfect for her.
Okay, now to the song itself. The scatting in it is wonderful, the song starts off with it and it continues throughout the rest of the track. I also really like the way that they overlap Lee Hi's voice to harmonize with herself at different points. The song is practically made to sing along with, the chorus especially, and also the "I said" parts. The different pauses placed in the song work really well to emphasize the different parts, and make it really stylized. The music is a great take on Modernized Jazz and Soul music. While they use the same classic brass instruments and beats, which you notice more each time you listen to the song, it's updated just enough to sound fresh. It's really well done, and if I had to choose just one song to listen to from the album, it would be this one.

- One-Sided Love (짝사랑) 

While the last song was more Jazzy, this one has a Gospel music vibe. She really uses the lower range of her voice to its fullest for this one, and the rasp comes out as well. Even though she's so young, this song sounds so mature and like something I would hear on an old Motown album. The Chorus that sings in the background really makes this song, it takes it to a higher level than having a few people harmonizing. And the emotion that's in her voice really comes from deep down in her soul, so much that you can feel it yourself. It's not just a person singing about something, but someone who means every word that they say. I was so impressed with the depth of this song, not just in the lyrics, but the music and vocals as well. This is a song I can listen to on loop all day and never get sick of it. 

- Dream 

 I mean this as a compliment, her voice and the overall sound reminds me a bit of Adele. The song is really simple with her voice being the focal point, with a Piano accompaniment. I have to say that, out of all her previous songs, she sounds especially gorgeous in this one. I'll be honest and say that the sheer feeling and force when she sings for this song brought tears to my eyes. I honestly don't know what I can really say, except, "Wow". It's so simple yet so amazingly beautiful. Just like how the lyrics talk about being in a dream, the song makes me feel like I'm dreaming in a way. It has that kind of etherial quality that calms your mind, but doesn't necessarily bore you. Even though it's just the end to Part 1, it's the best way to end this section of the album. 

There it is, part one of Lee Hi's new album! It is really incredible, and you should not miss out on this one! I've had a few Korean female solo artists that I've loved, but I think that Lee Hi may be quickly climbing the latter to be my favorite. If you like music by Michael Buble, Adele, Harry Connick Jr, and any of the Oldies, you will probably love this album as well. You don't hear Korean artists like Lee Hi every day. Some people don't think she's as "Pretty", "Thin", or "Sexy" as other girls in K-Pop, but does that really matter? She's still really beautiful and has a style all her own, which I think inspires a lot of girls to just be who they are. That said, I don't care if she doesn't dance as much and is a solo artist, her voice is incredible and she just keeps getting better with each album.
You can buy Part 1 of First Love on iTunes for about $6, which includes the songs I mentioned. The full album will be released on March 21st, if you would prefer to wait for that. You can pre-order the physical album from Kpop Plus or Yes Asia for around $20, or from your favorite music store. If you've listened to it already let me know what you thought in the comments. I highly recommend this album, if you can't tell, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,

(p.s. This post is late because I didn't feel like writing on my Birthday, sorry!)