[Review] Forbidden Island – Ha Sung Woon

Today, Ha Sung Woon continues his solo career with his latest comeback, Forbidden Island, which is the title track of his fourth mini-album, Mirage. It follows the release of Get Ready and Twilight Zone earlier this year. It is interesting to remind ourselves that Ha Sung Woon was once a member of HOTSHOT. I am a little surprised that he has yet to make an official return of HOTSHOT group’s promotions. It could potentially be that the group has gone on a hiatus due to military enlistments. But as Ha Sung Woon continues to make solo comebacks and his company continues to remain silent on a potential return, it is looking more like Ha Sung Woon had unofficially left the group’s lineup.

Forbidden Island is one of those songs that manages to surprises me as I listen to the song. And if you have already checked out the song, you probably know what I am talking about. There isn’t much to the start of the song aside from a building atmospheric instrumental piece and some clicks. I did like how he put forwards a raspy and breathy version of his vocals, further heightening the suspense that is slowly building. Nothing really happens until we reach the chorus. It changes up the song completely, driving forward with falsetto vocals and a funky instrumental (made up of guitar and percussion) that instantly lights up with energy. You could tell that a change up was bound to happen given how the song started. But what we got was not something I had expected. And I am digging it. The second verse pretty much is the same concept as the first, just the background has a little more momentum to make it feel appropriate following the first chorus. The bridge was stunning with the slowdown. It felt like it returned to how the song started, just without the suspense building in the background. His vocals, once again, stand out here, with an impressive high note. And the slowdown, per usual, makes the final chorus more vibrant and punchier. Overall, Forbidden Island is a strong release and possibly one of his best to date.

The music video shows a world without people, as suggested by Ha Sung Woon as he sings about this ‘Forbidden Island‘. He wants to be lead there by the person he is singing to – where we can only assume that life is infinity times better than with people. It sounds like an introvert’s dream. The setting of this video looked quite aesthetic, especially the scenes that one could describe as ‘in the dark’. I am talking specifically about the scenes where he is sitting on a chair surrounded by flowers, a circle that you can make out on the floor and some stage fog, or the scenes where is head is surrounded by colourful crystal-like structures. Even his choreography scenes and outdoor scenes looked really stunning.

You might feel that lifting people as part of a dance routine is something that happens quite a bit on stage. But I am impressed with the complexity of the lifting that happens in this particular routine. At the start, he is instantly lifted upon walking into the arms of the dancers. Towards the end, he is lifted to slide over one of the dancers in a really unique take of the move. Pretty much made me go wow. I also really liked how in sync he was with the dancers for the chorus and the duo moment that Ha Sung Woon and one of the dancers had during the second verse.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

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