written by: McRoth
It seems to be the season that contestants from singing competitions are hauled into the spotlight for their debuts, and the latest to do so is “Birth of a Great Star” finalist Roh (Noh) Ji Hoon. Now under Cube Entertainment (4minute, BEAST), Roh Ji Hoon follows in the footsteps of G.Na and Huh Gak as the company’s newest soloist. Considering how well Cube has proven to craft work for their superstars lately, it is actually exciting to hear another voice be added to the extensive repertoire.
‘The Next Big Thing‘, Roh Ji Hoon’s debut mini-album, sees the singer take a firmer, bad boy persona for his debut. It’s an angle that comes as a surprise to some who watched him perform on “Birth of a Great Star”, where he came across less up-tight and a lot more spirited. It shouldn’t be a big shocker though, as (quoted by Penny,) “it is considered a desirable skill to be able to drop one look and immediately pick up its polar opposite.” That’s just how pop music works and so we have things like “Punishment“, Roh Ji Hoon’s debut single, wherein sensuality comes in waves much like it did for Hyunseung and HyunA‘s “Troublemaker” a year ago. The single was produced by Brave Brothers, meaning that it’s a song that has already been produced and released in one form or another; it has.
“Punishment” has a groove identical to SISTAR‘s “Alone” and TEEN TOP‘s “To You“, two of Brave’s strongest productions ever. Roh Ji Hoon’s debut single picks up where those singles left off, leading from one verse to another with a common piano progression and a groovy electric guitar lead. The chorus is addicting at best, with a pretty nice swing in the hook . The single is all style, definitely, and it’s one that fits well within the Cube aesthetic. He might have sacrificed more personality than he probably had to, but all in all, Roh Ji Hoon fared well here.
Unfortunately, the rest of the mini-album leaves a lot to be desired, which is a real shame for someone with so much untapped potential. Three-fifths of ‘The Next Big Thing’ are spent in uninteresting territory of mundane R&B balladry (“비가 와“) and unremarkable mid-tempo filler (“어때요“). If there’s a highlight to Roh Ji Hoon’s debut mini-album, it goes hands down to “Maker” featuring HyunA, which is not only the most thrilling moment thus far for the soloist, but one of the finest productions to drop for a rookie idol this year. Reminiscent of Aziatix or (even better) One Way, “Maker” is loaded with energy, yet delivered in a really laid-back, cool fashion. Roh Ji Hoon sounds excellent, singing with full conviction, and HyunA adds an immense level of swag and edge that blend perfectly under this contemporary R&B track. It’s a pretty awesome collaboration and, quite honestly, not making this the lead single was a missed opportunity.
Roh Ji Hoon is a great singer and ‘The Next Big Thing’ does a fairly decent job of putting him under a specific style that may or may not work for him later down the road. It’s not exactly interesting, composition-wise, but when it hits its high points, you get a really amazing taste of elements that Roh Ji Hoon could potentially explore (and succeed with) in the future.
|Fly With Me||
| Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
Points to stars conversion: [(3.25/5) x 5] + 0.25*
*there is a 0.25 bonus for every album. The logic is that, if every song were “pretty good”, it’s a 4-star album.