The past few days have certainly been exciting for JYP stans. Amidst all the excitement over Stray Kids’s recent releases and just ahead of a (banger of a) comeback by 2PM’s Wooyoung, 2AM member Jo Kwon has come back. But of course, Jo Kwon, like all the other 2AM members at this point, is no longer under JYP. His solo career is now officially being managed by Cube, which explains the appearance of Cube trainee and Produce 101 fan favorite Yoon Seonho in the music video (was I the only one who was confused for a minute?). Jo Kwon’s first solo comeback with Cube is a single with self-written lyrics, the measured and emotional “Lonely.”
While it’s great to hear Jo Kwon’s lovely voice, “Lonely,” to be honest, drags a bit. He’s obviously an excellent vocalist, but his voice is not explosive enough to make a ballad like this feel engaging. His vocal has a delicateness which would be more suited to a lighter sound, but “Lonely” is heavy and plodding, without any salient stylistic or compositional characteristics. There are some big notes, but I found myself getting impatient for a really jaw-dropping belt that just never came. It’s not that a singer should always have to belt to make a ballad feel worthwhile, but when the song lacks other unique or memorable moments, there’s a call for vocal acrobatics that you don’t see in “Lonely.”
All that said, “Lonely” is not a bad song. If I were a huge fan of Jo Kwon, I’d be perfectly happy just to enjoy his poignant, soothing voice. But ballads have to set themselves apart to get any work done. Hopefully, the vocalist’s next move with Cube will be more striking, perhaps with a full album or a well-thought out concept to support the title track.
LONELY: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? I mean, eh…
Take a look at Jo Kwon’s “Lonely” MV below: