Not that you haven’t heard this a thousand times already, but DAY6 is truly masterclass. They proved it yet again with “When You Love Someone,” the October release of their year-long monthly singles project “Every DAY6.” DAY6’s music lands decidedly outside of K-pop’s habitual comfort zone, not just in that they are a self-producing rock group whose members all play instruments, but also in their consistent forays into brave compositional territory. “When You Love Someone” hits the pop marks it needs to while experimenting with lesser-used chords and melody, all in a way that is distinctly DAY6.
Here, the really brilliant moment appears in the prechorus, where member Young K croons a silken melody over guitar tones and background vocals that climb a staircase of staggered whole- and half-steps as naturally as if it’s a scale that has always existed in the musical canon. Hell, it should. Aside from surprising and delighting the ears, it conveys a poignancy that walks right up to the edge of sadness but doesn’t fall in. Rather, it keeps the song on mellow terrain, grounded there by Young K’s serene voice. The melody returns in the bridge before the final chorus, where the recurring lyrics “This is a song for you” come to the forefront, highlighting the close relationship between the music itself and its subject.
The rest of the song is just as good, as can only be expected of DAY6. Steady piano closely imitates the melody of the Jae’s voice in the first verse, similarly to how that guitar in the prechorus and bridge follows the melody of the lyric “This is a song for you.” In the second verse, Jae flips expectations by singing a new melody and leaving the established melody to the piano. This structure runs parallel to the way Jae and Young K, in the bridge, introduce new melodies for the repeated “This is a song for you” while letting the guitar and backing vocals remain the same. It’s a beautiful way to familiarize the ear with the patterns of the song while maximizing its longevity. The next time a listener hears it, the memory of these patterns will evoke the sonic pleasure that comes from knowing how a song goes; however, the variation of the vocal melody also keeps the song from getting old. The chorus was understated compared to the rest of the song and to other DAY6 choruses, with a gentle melody and instrumental that aims more to create a mood than to make big moves.
I’ve seen a few complaints that “When You Love Someone” sounds too much like last month’s Every DAY6, “I Loved You.” While I completely understand that many of you are holding out for an upbeat Every DAY6, I don’t understand where you’re seeing similarities. Yes, the songs’ BPM are around the same, and some of the chord patterns are…comparable, I guess. But aside from that, the two songs sound completely distinct to me. “When You Love Someone” is driven by percussion and has a laid-back bounce to it, as if it wants you to sway from side to side, a sound that is almost (dare I say it?) tinged with the pale, summery colors of American country. “I Loved You” is the opposite of swayable. It is completely guitar-driven and the hook has a huge, wildly compelling melody, with much more pathos-heavy vocals than “When You Love Someone.” For me there’s nothing stagnant about either of them, and I trust DAY6 to continue at their own pace for the remaining two singles of Every DAY6.
I would be remiss not to mention “I Need Somebody,” where DAY6’s inimitable vocals take the spotlight. Four out of DAY6’s five members possess incredible vocal talent, and not one of them fits the conventional vocal ideal. There’s no opera-like vibrato or outrageous high notes with DAY6—their prowess is in the rawness of their delivery. It’s crazy hard to sing with that much intensity and maintain control over pitch and tone. DAY6’s vocalists pour feeling into their singing while doing every single thing right in terms of technique, and that duality of passion and precision blew my mind in “I Need Somebody” (*cough* SUNGJIN *cough*). I easily preferred “I Need Somebody” to “When You Love Someone,” and honestly I’ll probably be listening to it longer. I sincerely hope that casual listeners aren’t skipping the Every DAY6 B-sides, because if so, they’re missing some of DAY6’s best work.
Well, now that I raved for four paragraphs about DAY6’s sad-song side, I’ll go ahead and admit that I’m hoping November’s Every DAY6 will be an upbeat one. However, I suspect that this won’t be the case. We need the storyline revealed in the past few MVs to get wrapped up, so I think we’ll get another low-key jam along the lines of “What Can I Do,” “I Loved You” and “When You Love Someone” to tie up the series before December takes the Every DAY6 project out with a bang. I’d love to hear another “I Wait” or “Surprise!” before the year is up, and I’m sure DAY6 will deliver something big. In the meantime, I’ll be adding “I Need Somebody” to all my moody winter playlists.
WHEN YOU LOVE SOMEONE: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? It’s a bop, of course.
Take a look at DAY6’s “When You Love Someone” MV below: