It's very rare that I write about Asian artists, mainly because no one has ever REALLY drawn me in before but with this guy literally ruling the Asian pop scene, I thought I'd give him a chance. I'd known about Rain's existence for three years now and I liked his stuff but I never bothered to watch his live stuff or most of his videos for some strange reason so today I scoured YouTube for performances and I was blown away. Which got me thinking, what makes him so popular? But I won't answer that yet.
I will however say why he's so freakin' brilliant. Yes, I've fallen trap to his brilliance.(I can't believe it either.)
I've said time and time again about how much I hate carbon copies of genre stereotypes and how unoriginal they are. I say that when an artist is trying to be something but does it horribly or creates a mediocre record. When I first heard of Rain I thought he was one of those artists but boy was I wrong.
The thing about Rain is that yes, he sounds like your typical R&B singer/songwriter(does he write his own songs?)/dancer but what makes him tick is the fact that he actually does the whole singer/dancer thing extremely well and neither of the two elements overpower each other. He has a gorgeous recording voice which functions pretty well live and he can daaaaaaance. Seriously, I watched him dancing and then watched Usher dancing and Rain was waaaaaaaay better.
OK fine, he can do these things and all but add one more thing - his ability to hold the audience in the palm of his hands and look amazing in the process(I'm not kidding, he can be hot at times...). You have to watch even just his TV performances to fall in love with the music and the talent.
The intro is quite interesting and I love hearing just him singing, even if I don't really adore the melody. It's nice to hear him without the heavy instrumentals once in a while.
Rainism is his 'world dominating' single - that was what I thought even before I found out that it indeed was his 'let's make me a huge star in Asia and the World' single. It's a recurring sound for him - we've heard this before with I'm Coming and it's got the perfect formula. Controversial lyrics, a killer dance routine, several hooks that refuse to exit your brain after you've heard the song and lots of airplay/music video air time. It's not the best melody in the world but everything else about this song is right.
In comes one of my favorites on the album, Only You. It's a brilliantly woven sweet R&B ballad that can win against Usher's Burn any day. What makes this song so brilliant is that yes, it sounds very Western but isn't that who Rain is as an artist? As much as it's bad for an Asian to sound too Western, he doesn't pretend to be anything else and like I said, he does it extremely well which is why he's forgiven in my books. Not convinced yet? Watch this performance and see if you still think he's not that good.
I can talk about this guy for years if I could but I won't so let's just skip the other amazing tracks and go straight to the last track, My Way. Since Love Story's the second single pretty much everywhere, I'd place my bets on this as the third single. It's distinctly Rain and the A&R side of me(which happens to work pretty well at the moment..) tells me that it's gonna be a gargantuan hit all over Asia. It clearly wasn't first single(almost always the 'world domination' one..) material and neither was it second single so let's all settle for third. I can imagine the dance routine to this(I'm pretty sure there's already an existing one that I haven't seen yet but never mind), which is a sign that it's very marketable.
I can't answer why he's so popular all over Asia but I can explain why he's so popular here in the Philippines. I always talk negatively about the rest of the Filipino music-listening population but for once, I have something nice to say. Because Rain is Korean and he(obviously) sings in Korean which not a lot of us are actually fluent in, we don't understand a thing he's saying unless he puts in the odd English word or two. Because they don't know what the crap he's talking about, they just listen to the song and watch the dancing - they take the song as a melody and an instrumental and they take the guy as a performer. Yes, some might learn Korean because of that(it's happened with the Japan invasion) but not everyone. There will be people who will see him as a musician and not some guy who sings songs with good lyrics.
Isn't that what music is supposed to be? As I always say, if you like the lyrics, read poetry for heaven's sake! If Rain can make his Filipino listeners aware of the fact that the music industry does not revolve around giving them 'nice lyrics', something that annoys me like hell, then I have even greater respect for him now.
SO, to sum up the album:
Best Track: Only You and Fresh Woman are tied..
Better Tracks: everything else. YESSS!
Least Favorite Track: None, duh.
THE RATING: 5/5, for being downright brilliant.