Ailee - "Heaven"

Before the review, of course I have to talk about Whitney Houston. How can I not. I don't have any sentimental stories or whatnot about her or her music like a lot of other people, and I'll admit that I didn't listen to her as a kid as much as other people do/did, but I have immense respect for her. Immeasurable respect. So many people have attempted to pull her songs off, and only a handful, or even less, have pulled it off. There is no one like Whitney Houston. May she rest in peace, and may she continue to serve as both an example and and inspiration to younger singers and musicians.

Honestly, I've been paying next to no attention to all the new acts that've come out so far, but one, I'm glad I watched Dream High 2, and two, I'm glad I bothered to look Ailee up. Because I'd never hear the end of it from myself if I missed Ailee.

I hate how the only reason why I bothered listening to Ailee was because she's in Dream High 2, but I think the reason why I noticed her in DH 2 in the first place kind of makes up for it. For those who aren't watching the drama, Ailee part of the sort of flagship girl group of the main talent agency in Dream High 2 - the other two members are T-Ara's Jiyeon and SISTAR's Hyorin, and they all move to Kirin and train. Jiyeon has the biggest role out of the three, and out of the four episodes I've seen, I hardly ever heard Ailee talk in comparison to Jiyeon, and actually even Hyorin, because she's always in the sidelines. But out of the three, honestly, Ailee was the one who stood out the most for me in terms of vocals. I mean yeah, Hyorin's amazing too, but her voice in the drama is kind of being downplayed. When Ailee and Hyorin did G.NA's "Top Girl", Ailee slayed Hyorin. Beat her to a pulp.

However, I'm a bit scared for Ailee. We've seen this done recently - "this" being the super-talented female solo artist being given a HUGE publicity push, a melodramatic ballad that shows off her voice, and everyone falling at her feet. G.NA. Ailee may not be from an agency with some kind of clout like how G.NA is from Cube, but she definitely isn't from a humble background, because she's Wheesung's protege. But of course, the measure of a mentor's worth isn't in what he/she has done for him/herself, but in how the student fares. I mean look at Rain, when he was handling MBLAQ they were a complete disaster, no matter how good a performer Rain is. It usually works well though, seeing as YG and JYP were both former pop stars/now-legends themselves, and SM was a frustrated pop star. And it definitely worked with Wheesung, even if I'm not that big a fan.

Ailee is amazing. Let me just put that on the record so if ever she hits it huge in the next few years, I can say I called it. (A bit later than a few others, but early nonetheless!) Like how I called BEAST AND Infinite. And IU.

The reason why I like Ailee's voice is because even if it has body and she can hit high notes at the drop at the hat, there is a sense of youth to her voice. Ailee is like a half-painted canvass -- she has her foundations firmly planted, and unless she smokes or something her voice won't get any worse, but her voice has so much room to grow, to mature. Like IU, who, I think we all agree, was amazing back then, but is even more amazing now. You know Ailee's young (22 is still young in terms of voice), but you also know that she's not this little girl trying to sound like she's fifty. If there's something you should never mess with, it's the age and development of your voice. Tampering with your voice is kind of like tampering with your face - I'm sure we've all heard our fair share of plastic surgery horror stories.

There's nothing really new to "Heaven" per se, but what it does is that it brings out Ailee's voice. It's somewhere in between a screaming-parade and a cute-fest, and it works, both in gaining mainstream attention, because it's not too avant garde, and in showing off that stunning voice. She doesn't hit you over the head with her voice, but she isn't ashamed of it either and when she lets go, it's really something. Everything in moderation.

That moderation reflects in the instrumental and the arrangement as well. "Heaven" starts off with just a simple piano line, progresses into a full-fledged, but gentle accompaniment. Ailee is one of those singers who can actually carry a song with just her voice, and I haven't seen a lot of that recently. The product is a graceful, but convincing package.

"Heaven" itself sounds like a Korean-ified cross between Shontelle's "Battle Cry"/"Superwoman", and The Script's "We Cry" -- I like how the instruments sound very clean, but also how the somewhat still raw guitar takes center stage during the chorus, and how you don't hear the bass clearly, but you feel it. And really, it's a gorgeous song, one I'll definitely be looping for the next few days at least. A gorgeous melody on top of an epic and firm, but graceful, melody, brought together by Ailee's stunning and perfectly capable vocals. It's nothing ground-breaking, but it is what it is, it's not pretentious either.

"Heaven" is an effective debut, it gets Ailee out there, and it shows us what she can do, but I still can't help but be a little scared for her, seeing as material-wise, K-Pop female solo acts (emphasis on the POP) haven't been doing as well as they should be. She better not disappoint!

4.2/5

4 comments:

  1. glad to see you up and running with your fingers again!

    Ailee reminds me of Sunye in terms of her looks but vocally, i think the latter is blessed with more effortless techniques. not to say that Ailee is a bad singer, she's much better than most of the idols out there... but somehow lacking in the x factor a bit?

    i just feel soloists in Kpop are a confused bunch. they gotta be either balladeers (usually those whom are visually less appealing) that just stand there or they go the pop way aka G.Na (visually more appealing). Even talented solo artistes like Younha and Ali are sort of confined in those lil boxes.

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  2. On the contrary, as a fan of the Wonder Girls, I have to say that Ailee is superior to SunYe vocally. Her voice seems more stable when she dances/moves and she hits the top of her range more effortlessly.

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  3. R.I.P. Whitney, se was brilliant singer.. It's terrible death.. Last year Amy WInehouse dead, now Whitney..it is horrible((

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  4. I have the exact same fear for Ailee. She's garnered a lot of interest with the single and I will cry tears of blood if she goes down the root someone else who knocked my socks off with their debut did after she started to get popular (G.Na I am still bitter about this. How could you give me I'll Back Off and then the shit you put out these days).

    I think there is a good chance that Ailee will stick to putting out great music that highlights her voice since she is Wheesung's protege. However, he is in the army so anything is impossible.

    And we were all floored when she sung Halo. Sometimes I wonder what the hell she's doing in KPOP.

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