[Digital Single] Dana – Touch You

“Touch You” is the first digital single released by Dana and the 15th release from SM STATION Season 1.

touchyou

Released: May 20, 2016
1. Touch You (울려 퍼져라)
2. Touch You (instrumental)

As I was expecting, Touch You is a ballad, but goes for a stronger orchestral sound. Considering this is her first solo release in many years, it is a bit surprising to hear her vocals still as sweet as ever. It is also a nice surprise to hear she hasn’t lost a lot of her power. I feel like it isn’t your usual K-Pop OST ballad and tries to change things up a bit by heightening the energy and making sure there is a steady and passionate pace to the song that is helped by the beat and piano. It’s quite wonderful.


Overall: This is a stunning piece as a return for Dana. It’s a beautiful ballad that tries to bring a more energetic take on things. I feel like Dana’s sweet vocals fit well with something with a brighter tone to it and it really works nicely here.

A

[Album] Dana – Maybe

Maybe is the second album released by Dana. Unlike her first, this album fared poorly despite all the promotion she had since her first album. Both the title track and What is Love? were used as the promotional songs.

maybe

Released: October 1, 2003
1. Friend VS Lover (길들이기)
2. Maybe (남겨둔 이야기)
3. What is Love?
4. Fight Till the End (바램)
5. N&N (End and And)
6. Love All I Need (너를 꿈꾸며)
7. Dream
8. How 2 Love
9. I Will
10. Kiss Me
11. Unhappy Day
12. My Melody
13. What is Love (Modern Rock Ver.)
14. Swear
15. Wanna Be

The album starts off in a different way than her debut, which had the icy dark Until the End of the World. Here, we open with the sweet Friend VS Lover. This isn’t a bad song by any means, but I feel like it is a bit of a regression from the more mature attitude her debut had and this sounds like something more in tune to BoA’s Atlantis Princess album (which was released the same year). It’s a pretty sweet song, but not particularly catchy as the hooks get a bit blunted by the music.

Coming in next is the title track, Maybe. It’s a gentle ballad that focuses more on Dana’s voice. At this point, Dana’s vocals have improved a lot and she has more control over her voice compared to her debut, and it really shows here. My only problem is the weird pitch jump that goes into the transition of the course, which comes off a little odd. The melody is nice, but it doesn’t quite go anywhere either. Even the end doesn’t quite hit the power I want it to.

What is Love? (Original Ver.) was used as the first promotional song and it is a bright and fun pop song like Friend VS Lover. However, this one is much stronger and has much better hooks than make me enjoy coming back to it. The chorus is rather repetitive, but it’s the pre-chorus that really shines and has a great quality to it that makes everything feel quite sweet. I think this is a good precursor to some of SM’s later tunes for groups like Girls’ Generation. I just wish Dana’s voice was a bit more engaging.

I’ve been waiting for a song like this and it has finally come. Fight Till the End is an upbeat dance/pop tune that brings back the sound of her first album. At this point, it feels a bit out of it because of its sound, but it is definitely one of the stronger album tracks. It has a weird early 00’s beat that reminds me of BoA’s Double, but the melody is a bit more melodic. It’s not as impacting as I want, but it is definitely a solid tune.

N&N (End and And) is another interesting change because here we are given a slower R&B ballad. I mean I love songs like this, but I’m always a bit hesitant heading into these kind of songs for fear that they aren’t as good as I want them to be. The beat is nice and the build-up into the chorus is quite nice, but that chorus is a bit a mess. The background vocals help to bring some life, but Dana just adlibs over it and doesn’t quite sing a lot and there is an odd contrast between her and the background vocal voices. Could have been better.

Love All I Need is more upbeat but still has some light R&B/pop vibes going on that make me think more of the late 90’s pop. The verses are pretty cool and I like the touches of attitude here in the vocal arrangement. The chorus is a bit of a let down as it loses that edge and goes for a fuller and brighter pop sound. It’s still pretty catchy, but I feel like it would have been better if it kept that groovier vibe for the melody.

Another ballad to pop up is Dream, but this one has a touch of R&B in it as well. Like its name, it is quite dreamy in its overall delivery. Unfortunately, it just sort of treads between dreamy and too fluffy to really deliver anything that’s memorable. The melody is lackluster and the song is just a snoozefest after a while.

danamaybe

How 2 Love is a stronger song. While it does bring us back to that upbeat dance/pop sound, I don’t think it has the same punch that the last one did. The music is pretty similar, but the melody just comes off a bit lazier. It doesn’t really match with the energy of the music. It’s just a bit of a disappointment.

I really thought it couldn’t get more boring, but I Will is just another disappointment. At this point, it is getting more difficult to get through this album. This one even lacks the dreamier atmosphere of Dream. It is a sweet song, but the song just doesn’t quite have much energy to it until the bridge where it becomes a power ballad. With that said, it drags on in the beginning and really only Dana’s voice saves it (even if she is screaming a bit).

I was really hoping that Kiss Me would save the album a bit and it is definitely one of the album’s more interesting songs. It isn’t as refined, but it does have some cool ideas. The music brings back the catchy dance/pop sound and there is a lot of energy to that. The melody isn’t bad either, but once again, the melody just seems to be sung in such a tiring way that there is no energy to it. It really relies on the music.

Unhappy Day is a bit of a throwback to early 90’s R&B and I quite like this change. The touch of rap is also a welcomed change because there is some energy. The best thing about this song is that the melody finally has some energy to it and Dana plays around with her voice a little more. Not the greatest tune, but it is solid.

Not sure what to think of My Melody. By this point, I’m a bit tired of listening to this album as it sort of just drags on without many strong points. This song isn’t too bad though. It’s a light midtempo pop tune, but it isn’t particularly strong in any area. The melody is a bit lackluster and the overall delivery of the song is that it just floats by.

What is Love? (Modern Rock Ver.) is a weird change from the original as it basically just has an annoying beat replace the more charming original. I was looking forward to hearing this, but this just makes the song much more worse. I much rather listen to the original.

Swear is a slow R&B ballad. This kind of song is quite common in the early 00’s K-Pop albums and they are always hit or miss depending on the melody. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t quite do it for me. The melody just isn’t that interesting and I don’t quite like it is sung as the song swerves a lot and Dana doesn’t quite transition as easily.

Wanna Be is a fast-paced summery pop tune and I actually like it, especially when compared to the majority of the songs on this album. It’s at least catchier than a lot of the upbeat songs on here and it brings some much needed energy. I also quite enjoy the music as there is a touch of brass and sparkling synths that brings a nice feel-good vibe.


Overall: This…What happened? I quite enjoyed Dana’s debut album as it had some stellar songs and despite Dana’s screechier vocals at the time, there was a lot of energy and intensity that was felt in the songs. Here, everything just felt so lazily done. Certainly I kind see a lot of these styles of songs being popular at this time (which they were), but there was just a lack of good songs. Really, the only song I would revisit is What is Love? and even then it has nothing on the best songs from her debut. The rest of the album just felt like a drag to get through. The songs were sung in a way that had no energy and the melodies felt weak and the music just boring at times.

C

[Album] Dana – First Album

Dana originally debuted as a solo artist in the early 2000s as part of the phase in K-Pop that saw a slew of companies debuting younger female artists in order to replicate the success of what SM did with BoA. Dana was part of the same company as BoA (SM Ent.) and she had strong backing support, which eventually led to a successful debut. Unfortunately, she only released two solo albums before being placed into the girl group, Cheon Sang Ji Hee The Grace. First Album is the debut release by Dana.

firstalbum
Released: September 10, 2001
1. Until the End of the World (세상끝까지)
2. Diamond
3. Pretty
4. Jealousy
5. Tonite
6. Lover
7. Pray:Play
8. Feel For You
9. Behind Love
10. Valentine
11. Love Takes Time
12. For You

Until the End of the World was released as the album’s first single and is a charming, but darker dance/pop song. It really reminds me of something from BoA’s first album and would easily fit there. The main difference is just that Dana’s voice is a bit more nasally and whiny. While she does well in the lower ends, her voice does get a little odd at the higher parts. Still, this is a quality track and the melody is really catchy and the song plays with a lot of ups and downs, which I like.

Diamond was the second single and is easily my favourite song on the album. It is a bit more upbeat than the last song and doesn’t quite have the same darker edge to it. With that said, I love the beat and the song just has so much energy to it. The verses are a bit slower, but it’s that fast-paced melody in the chorus that really gets things going. Once again, Dana is a bit whiny, but she does sound great in the chorus. Yunho from TVXQ also adds a rap later on in the song.

Pretty is the first midtempo tune and really follows its name as it is on the sweeter side of things. The song does have some R&B touches to it, which helps to keep the song’s energy up, however, everything just comes out a little too dull. The verses are pretty forgettable and while the chorus does a good job of showing Dana’s voice, the melody isn’t that catchy.

Jealousy starts off sounding like a Britney Spears song. It definitely has a darker and edgier side to it as the verses are done in a “whispery” voice. The chorus is pretty catchy and I like the power that the music brings to help heighten the intensity of the melody. With that said, it’s a bit messy at times. The best part of the song is the “dadada” hook.

Tonite is a really cool track. It’s a midtempo pop tune and one of the stronger album tracks. The beautiful sitar sounding instrument in the verses helps to bring a different vibe and while the chorus ditches that, the chorus is more mysterious and I love how everything flows together. It sort of reminds me of BoA’s “Kiseki”. Stellar.

Lover is the album’s first full-fledged ballad. It starts off in a pretty boring way, but does gain some steam as it goes along. The chorus is definitely the highlight and the melody is surprisingly strong. I was expecting it to sound pretty messy, but it is drawn out and straightforward. I just don’t think Dana has to the voice to really push this song forward. She struggles around the end.

Pray:Play starts off with a new jack swing opening, but then switches to a weird dance/pop kind of tune. I’m more on the fence with this song as the verses are just odd and how Dana sings them is just as weird. The chorus is pretty cool and I do enjoy the melody, but Dana’s high-pitched vocals just do not work here. It sort of causes her to scream out the notes and it ruins the flow of the song. Overall, not a bad song though.

Feel For You is a funky midtempo R&B song with some a futuristic vibe to it. I like the more laid back delivery on the chorus as it isn’t as intense as a lot of other songs on here and her voice sounds better in the lower regions. I wasn’t a big fan of this song before, but now I think this is a pretty solid tune.

Behind Love continues the R&B style, but the melody has the feeling of being a ballad. Unfortunately, the verses are really boring. The chorus is a little better and reminds me of other R&B songs from this era in K-Pop. Unfortunately, there are times when the melody feels just a little off and it ruins the flow of the song. Not bad, but definitely not as strong as the last song.

Valentine is the first song that is really bright and cute. I was actually expecting to hear a few more songs like this on the album, but it took getting through nine other tracks to get there. This kind of song works really nicely with the nasally quality of Dana’s voice. While it isn’t the strongest tune and it lacks a really strong hook, it’s still a decent listen and I quite like the energy it brings.

Love Takes Time is not the Mariah Carey classic. Although it starts off sounding like a ballad, it soon comes blasting with a funky, powerful beat and rap. Dana’s voice sounds a bit lacking as the beat does overpower her in the verses, there is a slick vibe to the melody that surprisingly works here. The chorus is also pretty catchy, but like the rest of the song, it is covered by the music. I feel like if the volumes were adjusted a bit, this would have been a stronger song. Still one of the better album tracks.

I thought For You would be a ballad, but it is a full-on summery pop tune. I’m not sure if I like it. While I love the music and the energy it brings, the chorus is just not that memorable. It’s a bit forgettable in the long run and once again, the music overpowers the melody. It’s a fun note to end on, but it just isn’t as strong as I was hoping for.


Overall: This is a pretty good debut album. The best part is that there are three really stellar songs. The rest of the album is decent, but doesn’t quite live up to the potential of those three songs. They aren’t horrible, but just lack the hooks to really push to the next level. One of my biggest complaints though is having Dana hitting some really high notes that she just was not capable of pulling off at times. While she improved a lot in later years, her voice was just so whiny and weak at times that it just didn’t mesh well in certain songs. Definitely recommend tracks 1, 2 and 5.

B+