[Review] IYAH – Kang Seung Yoon (WINNER)

Also making this comeback this Monday is Kang Seung Yoon, the leader of male group WINNER. It has been eight years since we last heard solo work from Kang Seung Yoon, with his last title track being released in 2013, a year prior to his debut with his group WINNER. Back then, he released Wild and Young as a single. If I remember correctly and as per YG Entertainment tradition, his solo release has been in the works for a number of years. But after a very long wait, Kang Seung Yoon has returned with the single IYAH and his first studio album, Page.

If we cast our mind back to Wild and Young, Kang Seung Yoon’s major solo release was a rock release. When news of his solo comeback was announced this year, I had expected something along the same lines as Wild and Young. But interestingly, IYAH is a ballad. Some of that rock sound is still present in the song through the use of the band instrumentation that forms IYAH‘s backbone. What was unsuspecting was the incorporation of orchestral instrumentation towards the end of the song. It just crept into the song without me knowing and delivered a really an amazing and powerful instrumental peak in this song. Complimenting the musical choices in the instrumental is Kang Seung Yoon’s vocals, which blew me away. He sings about growing up and maturing as he gets older, and you can hear that in his voice. To be honest, the start of the song felt very plain. But as it progressed and he built upon his vocals to compliment the building momentum in the instrumentation, he really sounds top notch. The best sequence has to be the bridge, as that classical instrumental comes through. Like the instrumentation, his vocals soar at the end of this sequence into that stunning high note. The use of the choir backing in the start of the final chorus and as the backing of his vocals right after also really tops the emotions that he portrayed in the song. His vocal melodies also tick the swaying box that I have on my list of criteria for ballads. Overall, while IYAH was not the expected release I had in mind for Kang Seung Yoon, it managed to surpass and be even better than what I had in mind.

The music video for IYAH shows us the life story of Kang Seung Yoon from a young age to now. We see him enjoy music from that young age to pursuing it in high school (where I believe we see him score that life-changing opportunity to participate on SuperStar K). We then see the pressure that he experienced leading up to his debut with Winner. The black and white sleeveless shirt and hat were his debut outfit. And we see him in the present performing on stage with his fellow members. Mino made a cameo appearance here, which made the present appear more clearer. From what I understand, fans and other viewers find this life journey and song very relatable. And I think that is the best compliment to pay this release. What I also liked about this life experience journey that is shown in the video is that it isn’t in chronological order. Instead, the different scenes and life stage are edited together in a jumbled manner. However, the scenes all interlink and the transitions all flow into one another.

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

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