Late in the Morning is the sixth digital single released by JOO.
Released: May 26, 2017
1. Late in the Morning (어느 늦은 아침)
The thing with JOO is that despite not being a powerhouse ballad singer, her voice has a fragility to it that really lends itself well to sad ballads. Late in the Morning isn’t the most exciting or powerful ballad she has done, but it is probably the best suited for her voice. The song doesn’t have JOO hitting high notes that caused her strain in past songs, but instead it keeps things at a pretty constant level and focuses on the emotional delivery. The music isn’t the most exciting, but the piano and gentle strings really carry the song a long way. Everything is just so beautiful pieced together.
Overall: Easily one of my favourite ballads of the year. This is by far JOO’s strongest song in her whole career largely because it plays on her strengths as a vocalist. It might come off a bit boring at times, but how everything ties together creates a gorgeous song.
Cry and Blow is the fifth digital single released by JOO. It was her first release since her switch from JYP to Woolim Entertainment.
Released: November 2, 2015
1. Cry and Blow (울고 분다) [MV]
It has been a while since JOO was releasing music. Cry and Blow returns us to her JYP days with a sad pop ballad. It’s quite similar to her past title tracks in terms of musical arrangement, although this one has some nice subtle touches that keep it interesting. The song is largely focused on the piano and strings and is meant to create a rather haunting and depressing listen. While it isn’t as explosive as Bad Guy and as naive as Because of a Man, Cry and Blow seems to fit well in between. Her vocals are much stronger and she is able to convey emotion much more effectively. The melody is also quite entrancing. I especially love the repeated title sung during the chorus as it becomes more intense as the song progresses.The whole song is quite beautiful.
Overall: JOO came back strong. Hopefully she will be here longer as she is able to deliver a killer ballad. I think this is her stronger yet as the music and vocals are on a higher level.
Heartmade is the first mini-album released by Joo. Bad Guy was used as the promotional song and features Chansung of 2PM in the music video.
Released: January 4, 2011
1. Bad Guy (나쁜 남자) [MV]
2. Can’t Even Take a Glass of Water (물 한잔도 마실 수 없어)
3. Not Even in the Movies (영화도 안보니)
4. After Looking At You (마주치고 나서)
5. Unbelievable (꿈만 같아)
6. Bad Guy (inst.)
The mini opens with the powerful Bad Guy; an emotional ballad focusing on the piano and strings. The song is a great ballad, albeit something that has been similarly heard countless times in K-Pop. The verses are pretty subtle and focus primarily on the piano. The chorus’ are more explosive and here is where the strings are brought in to work with the haunting melody. The song does its work in showing the vocals and the music helps to convey the sadness and frustration of the lyrics. Joo does a great job here and like in her previous title track, her softer tone works well with the theme although she also shows a bit of power when she needs to. Can’t Even Take a Glass of Water is a great followup. It’s a pop/R&B ballad that has a strong oldschool feel to it. Actually it sounds very similar to Byul’s December 32nd, which is another great song. A classy song that works best with Joo’s vocals although it is a bit linear. Not Even in the Movies features 2PM member Chansung. This midtempo R&B/pop is a great addition because at this point it is the fastest song she has done in her solo discography. I love the verses because they flow so well with Joo’s voice although the chorus’ a bit more aggressive in the vocal delivery. I’m not a big fan of the melody, but Joo sounds great. I don’t think Chansung’s rap really added to anything though. After Looking At You is a piano ballad with heavy dance beats. I love these kind of songs, but I don’t think this song is one of the stronger ones I’ve heard. While the verses are great, I find the chorus’ to be a bit weak in impact. I don’t think Joo’s voice fits these types of songs as well as the other ones already showcased, but it’s good she’s trying other styles. Unbelievable is probably the most classic pop ballad on here and is probably my favourite song after the promotional song. It features a heavy R&B beat blended with snap beats and a gorgeous strings arrangement. I think its a great ending and helps show Joo’s vocal strengths.
Overall: As a followup to her first single, Heartmade is perfect. It’s a ballad mini, but everything is pretty distinct enough so it doesn’t all blend together. What I enjoyed most was that it brought modern touches on certain songs but then dug up some oldschool K-Pop sounding tunes that blended together nicely. I did wish she stepped a bit more out of her safety zone as it would’ve been nice to hear her try more than just the usual R&B ballad or it would’ve been nice to hear some more emotional ballads like the promotional song.
Cinderella’s Sister OST Part.1 is the second digital single released by Joo.
Released: April 5, 2010
1. Turn Around (뒤돌아봐)
Unlike the last OST song that Joo released, Turn Around is a bit more of the standard K-Pop ballad in its arrangement and is something that could have fit right into her first single. There isn’t anything particularly interesting about the actual music as it mainly focuses on the piano with the strings underlying it. However, the melody is quite nice and the overall delivery of the song is sad but powerful. Joo also sounds quite strong here as the song fits perfectly with her voice.
Overall: It’s safer than her last OST single, but it just fits much better with her.
Painter in the Wind OST is the first digital single released by Joo.
Released: November 20, 2008
1. Color (색色)
2. Color (Inst.)
Color is a ballad that has some similarities to her debut release but also provides something different. It has a light hearted feel to it that is more in tune with her cover of Like Yesterday, while it also utilizes strings present in her other songs. It’s a charming song to say the least and for me sounds like it has a stronger J-Pop influence to it that reminds me of something by Mika Nakashima. Joo’s vocals are sweet and work well with the song although there are times in the chorus where I felt her voice was too weak for the arrangement.
Overall: This is a pretty nice OST song. It works well with Joo’s tone and different enough to set it a part from the songs on her debut single.
I remember when Joo first debuted and people were giving her a hard time because they thought she wasn’t that good. I was like WHAT?!, this girl has a great voice. I’m glad she has made a comeback though, it’s been too long since she returned. Young Girl is the debut single by Joo. Because of a Man was used as the first single and Like Yesterday was performed live a few times.
Released: January 17, 2008
1. Because of a Man (남자 때문에) [MV]
2. Like Yesterday (어제처럼)
3. Face (얼굴)
4. Premier (초연(怊緣))
5. Because of a Man (Inst.)
6. Like Yesterday (Inst.)
The single opens with Because of a Man, a pretty standard sounding K-Pop ballad if you’ve listened to enough of them. This was around the declining period of the ballad phase, but it still stood out. It easily shows off Joo’s stellar vocals, which are strong but have a sweetness about them. Granted there were artists who could pull this song off much better technically, but Joo has something in her voice, which helps echo emotion into the song. It’s sad, striking and really hits the heart. Stellar. Like Yesterday is a cover of a J song. J was is an oldschool Korean R&B singer and her voice is insanely fluid, so it was interesting to hear Joo’s take on this song. It’s a great song anyway with it’s lounge feel. Vocally, Joo pulled it off decently as her tone is similar to that of J’s, but she’s still able to make it unique. Face is another ballad that follows the style of the previous song. It’s a good follow-up, although not particularly different or catchy as the previous one just pulls everything off on a higher level. Joo’s vocals match this song much better though. Premiere follows the style of the first track with it’s more traditional ballad approach with a touch of sadness. It’s a gorgeous song and one of the strongest on the single (granted there are only four tracks). It shows off Joo’s vocal power, especially at the end when the song takes a step up. A great ending that leaves a strong impression.
Overall: A striking single from a debutant. It still surprises me that Joo went back to train, although I think a lot of it had to do with the rumours of her past arising. Still, this single easily showed the potential that Joo had. Her voice is sweet, piercing and powerful and she flows through all these slower tracks well. While I found the darker ballads more to my liking, the light-hearted R&B tracks were a nice break even if they weren’t that exciting.