Jong Shin Yoon, a singer-songwriter of 26 years, is someone that is far more familiar with the youth as an entertainer. However, those who have known him for a longer time know him for his moving tunes and empathizing lyrics. Yoon’s concert, themed with the title “Lyricist Jong Shin Yoon: Special Lecture Part 2”, was held for three days at Ewha Womans University this November. The concert was anticipated to be an educational one – the audiences were to be given an insight into how he writes his music and his lyrics. The concert thus aimed to reflect his belief in the power of lyrics by showing the lyrics to all the songs performed at the backdrop. This naturally encouraged the audience to follow the song with the lyrics and really understand the messages contained within Yoon’s songs.
The concert kicked off with “Autumn Clothes”, a song about remembering past love in the autumn through the change in the type of clothing we wear each season. It compared the brief moments of remembrance to how autumns have now become much shorter, so much so that it passes by before we know it. Just like this song from his single 2016 Monthly Yoon Jong Shin September Edition, Yoon has been presenting one single a month as a project since 2010. He then compiles the songs produced in a year and releases it as a regular album at the end of each year. Although this practice had not been uncommon overseas, it was a revolutionary move then for a Korean singer, and still remains unique.
After the first song, the song “Annie”, made popular from Superstar K, and his hit “Rebirth” in reggae arrangement, followed. He then started talking about how there are many types of voices that a songwriter could take, and that he almost always talks from a guy’s perspective. He talked about how many of his songs were written while reflecting on his real experiences; he mentioned that there was a “top plaintive songs list.” On that list was “You Did Well” and “Night View”, which he sang afterwards. These songs had shared characteristics in that they had melancholy tunes and lyrics that talk about wishing a past lover well despite still loving her. The lyrics that unfolded as the song went by, combined with Yoon’s voice, delivered a long story full of emotion.
After a few more selections such as “Bad” and “Calm”, he sang “At the Dentist” and “Beauty Inside”. The latter two songs serve as great representations of his sources of inspiration. In “At the Dentist”, Yoon compared a deep scar from love to an old cavity that is hard to remove. As reflected in this song, his lyrics often house metaphors from everyday life. “Beauty Inside”, just like “BIRDMAN” that was sung towards the end of the show, is a song written after Yoon watched the movie of the same name. Yoon reflects on a point made by the movie, and develops it further by incorporating his own experiences.
The next part of the concert featured Min Seo, a freshly-debuted singer from Yoon’s company. They had first met when Min Seo applied for Superstar K7. She sang two songs, “First” and “A Girl That Disappeared”; she was especially skillful in capturing the emotion in the songs. Personally, her rendition of “A Girl That Disappeared” was the most memorable moment of the show. It was a song that Yoon wrote after watching the French film La Famille Bélier; it is a song about a girl leaving home for the world who tells her parents it’s time to go. The song, filled with metaphors of the world and nature, really resonated with my personal experiences as a daughter as well.
The next part contained more upbeat, hip-hop songs such as “The Color”, “Instinctively”, and “Wild Boy”. Rappers from his company assisted, but they failed to be a pleasant addition to the song. What really turned the mood around was the line of Yoon’s more popular songs that followed. With a common theme of “Summer”, Yoon sang “The Story of the Sea”, “Cool Girl” and “Highway Romance”. The refreshing tunes and catchy lyrics were able to remind the audience of summer and the anticipation that come with the season. Inspirational and well-known choices of songs “Exhaustion”, “A Tired Day”, “Age”, and “Uphill” followed, with which the audiences sang along softly. As an encore performance, he sang his hits “The Temperature of a Break-up” and “The Send-off”, which ended the performance on a high note on the emotion scale.
I was more often drawn to a song for its melody than its lyrics. However, this three-hour journey completely satisfied my anticipations of exploring the world of writing words to create a song. I was able to realize the power of lyrics and what they contain; a same melody could be given different stories to become completely different songs and have different impacts on a person. By offering the spotlight to his lyrics rather than himself, Yoon was able to prove his brightness in song-making while sharing his story.