[#28] Jonghyun (SHINee) and Chen (EXO) - "A Day Without You"

From: "SM The Ballad Vol 2. Breath"
Released: February
Territory: South Korea
Previous Best of Entries: First Appearance (as soloists)
Other notable song(s) from 2014: n/a

Speaking of being particular about ballads, this year's SM The Ballad release was just so-so overall -- "Breath" was okay but not stellar. So it's both surprising and not really that the track I liked the most was the non-conventional ballad.

I like "A Day Without You" because it has character -- the addition of the prominent synth line turned an already comparably edgy track into a dynamic, interesting package. The instrumentation leans more towards the pop side, but at the same time it's a subdued kind of slick that not only comes from the synths, but the arrangement of the instrumentation as a whole. The vocals themselves also help -- Jonghyun in particular brings a timbre that's more complex and edgier, while Chen is a good juxtaposition and provides the "ballad" aspect. There are a lot of bells and whistles, sometimes literally, and they actually catch your ear in a good way.

Speaking of catching your ear, what I also like about "A Day Without You" is that it manages to sneak in a hook that's not only melodic, but rhythmic -- notice the emphasis on the down beats in the lines leading up to the bridge and how a similar emphasis repeats during the chorus itself. "A Day Without You" is not only different or innovative, it's memorable at its very structure.

This is the kind of "ballad" that I want from SM -- they have the means and the talent to innovate and defy the conventions of your stereotypical ballad, so why not do it more? I mean, "A Day Without You" is proof that it's possible.


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