XIA (Junsu) - "11am"

There have been more that just a few instances over the past few months when I find myself forgetting why I like five-piece DBSK, together or any fraction or combination of, and why I continue to follow them. I mean come on, JYJ hasn't had new music out since "IN HEAVEN" in 2011, HoMin's "Time" was okay but could've been better, "Tarantallegra" was a disappointment, and don't even get me started on Jaejoong's disaster of a solo EP. But I now realize that my line of reasoning is completely off, and that maybe, up until today, I had been forgetting the very reason why I began to like Jaejoong, Yoochun, Junsu, Changmin and Yunho.

I like them because even if you take away all the flash, and at the end of the day they are genuinely talented singers and performers. And Junsu's "11am" is the epitome of that. When I say that sometimes the performances are what carry songs -- "11am" goes and does it, no questions asked, no exceptions requested. This is the type of song that shows that a song can, and will, carry more information that people think it does.

On the surface, "11am" is a gorgeous song. It's a simple melody with a single instrument accompanying it. But it carries with it the same dynamics, the same explosions and emotions, that more intense songs have. This is what I mean when I say that while simpler songs are easier to carry, they're harder to carry well -- because no one really thinks about simple songs, they just take what's there and end it at that. It takes creativity and a certain kind of brevity to work with simplicity and bring it places because it also means that every mistake potentially made is out in the open, more than it is on a song with 9320483295 layers of effects and instruments.

"11am" basks in the simplicity -- it's a quiet song, yes, and there pauses at practically every line, but those serve a purpose. What you get from the melody are bursts of this gorgeous, gorgeous melody, and just enough time to take them all in, as well as let your mind build. I admit that the one fault this kind of structure has is that when I try and recall which part is which (the verses, the chorus, etc., etc.) and try to put the song together in my mind, it's difficult, but for me at least, what I remember is the song as a whole -- Junsu's gorgeous voice, how that melody is gorgeous, especially at the "explosion", and that it is a gorgeous song, plain and simple. And that kind of song has its merits too, because it's not as if "11am" was just put together with no purpose or sense of musicality, because it wasn't.

And finally, that piano line. It's gorgeous. The piano line, despite it being an addition to the melody, is what gives the song the subdued quality, simply because it's the only accompaniment. On the other hand, it's secondary, yes, but it's firm, confident and can stand alone perfectly fine, preventing the song from falling apart. Quite literally, it supports the melody -- there are big moments in the song that are the piano line's doing, but there are also times when it pulls back and lets the melody explode into its gorgeous self.

The piano line and the melody meet because of the production. Most of the time, when given a song as simple as this, the default action is to pile on all these trinkets -- weird effects, maybe some bass, rapping even. But none of those are in "11am", because the producers chose to let the song bask in the simplicity. The song is confident enough, that it can catch attention, that it can be correctly delivered from start to finish, that the production doesn't need to resort to extras to cover up whatever flaws it has. It's gorgeous on its own, and it stays that way.

Finally, we go back to the point I took off from -- what sells this song is Junsu. Give this song to someone else, maybe even of equal vocal ability, and it would completely change the song, whether it be for the good or for the bad. Instead of running away in fear of that simple song, Junsu goes headfirst into "11am" -- and kills it. Absolutely slays it. As far as technical delivery goes, it's on-point -- every note hit, every breath measured. And because Junsu spends less time thinking about what note to hit, or if he can hit it, because there's less time spent teaching him how to sing, he spends most of the time thinking of how to sing the song. This is clear in both the mostly-a cappella version, and the "album" version with a full piano accompaniment -- Junsu is proficient enough to both complement the piano line and stand his own ground alone.

Many times, singers will try to emote this way or that way -- they'll try to soften their delivery or attempt vibratos, but they're so caught up in the technique that they forget to sing. The softening turns into whispering, the vibratos turn into what seem like mistakes, and no emotions come out. But that's not the case Junsu. Even when he's singing softly like he is in the beginning, he's still singing the notes. Those vibratos are goose bump-inducing to say the least -- because he does them right, they convey exactly what emotions they're supposed to convey. The sweeping notes are even more goose bump-inducing, the hook is intense because those sweeps give the notes dimension.

As a whole, "11am" is such a good song, an an even better package, not only because of the reasons I already talked about, but also because it's a song that you can either enjoy for what it is, or take apart into tiny pieces. It's reachable to the untrained ear -- that gorgeous melody, the fantastic singing -- you can listen to it as is, without thinking, and it will be its beautiful self and entertain you. But underneath it is complex in its simplicity -- the thought that went into it, the techniques used to deliver it -- taking it apart is just as entertaining as sitting back and letting it wow you. Just the way I like my pop songs.

5/5

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