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SHINee: Jong Hyun Collection - Story Op.2 (Essay Version)
Jong Hyun (SHINee)
SHINee: Jong Hyun Collection - Story Op.2 (Essay Version)
Blue Night memories
May 19, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
Jong Hyun started hosting the radio program Blue Night in 2014. Inspired by audiences' real-life stories, the SHINee member created a bunch of soulful and jazzy ballads that were collected in his first compilation album Story Op. 1. After stepping down from the show in early April this year, the singer-songwriter wraps up the series with Story Op. 2, a sentimental sequel drowned in the mixture of melancholy, loneliness and helplessness felt in different seasons.

Spring is the blooming season not just for flowers but also for love. However, the title track Lonely (Track 1) reveals the intense sense of loneliness behind an apparently blossoming love. Jong Hyun and Tae Yeon tenderly croon to each other over a quiet piano accompaniment about their pains in a seemingly peaceful relationship. The cosmic, twinkling synth sounds and beautiful string melody exude an extra flair of romance. Created for the 1000th day anniversary of Blue Night, 1000 (Track 2) removes the chill from a lonely spring with a warm fingerpicking tune.

Continuing the refreshing coolness of the album with its easy-listening R&B style, "Just Chill" (Track 3) tells listeners to relax and enjoy the moments of solitude. Instead of its original monotone synth-driven arrangement, the remastered version generates a blend of funky guitar riffs and an elegant string melody. The twinkling synth embellishments capture the magnificence of a starry summer night. The jazzy Love Is So Nice (Track 4) and "Blinking Game" (Track 5) are the rare sweet tracks in the sad ballad-filled album.

Autumn is the season for self-reflection. In fallen leaves, we see our pasts and morality. Looking at his own reflection in an elevator door, the protagonist in Elevator (Track 6) mournfully reflects on his past and the meaning of his life. The solemn piano accompaniment offers a desolate portrayal of a helpless man who gets lost on the path to self-discovery. The sense of desperation climbs to its climax in "Let Me Out" (Track 7). The PB R&B jam produces a dark, eerie sound with Jong Hyun's uncanny arrangement and cool trip-hop beats. The singer voices the strong desire for love and understanding, and soars into falsetto to beg for release from a torturous relationship.

Usually a fireplace evokes feelings of warmth. However, the atmospheric neo-soul song "Fireplace" (Track 8) conveys the profound melancholy of a man struggling to forget his former love. Singing with his airy, otherworldly vocals, Jong Hyun sees the fireplace as an emotional reflection of a romantic relationship – the burning passion is extinguished when love is gone, leaving behind a pile of ashes. Filled with the singer's grateful lyrics, "Our Season" (Track 9) warms the heartbreaking winter tone and brings the album to a beautiful ending.

With his unique soul and jazz sensibilities, Jong Hyun beautifully depicts the mixed emotions felt in different romantic relationships. Though the album is loaded with regretful and forlorn tunes, the sensitive crooner creates a contemplative space in Story Op. 2, where lonely souls can find some comfort in his soothing melodies.

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