Park Ji Yoon - Mr Lee
Despite losing some footing on the charts, K-diva releases never stopped being great, but 2013 is the first time in years that they’ve been good enough to rival –if not surpass– music from idol groups. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Lee Hyori’s “Miss Korea” and “Bad Girls,” Seo In Young’s “Let’s Break Up” and “Love Me,” Lee Jung Hyun’s “V,” Sunmi’s “24 Hours,” and Kahi’s “It’s Me,” all of which were basically perfect. Even the stuff that wasn’t universally loved, like Ailee’s Beyonce knock-off “U&I” and G.NA’s Mariah b-side “Oops!” were great to me. (The only song I didn’t like so far was Ivy’s “I Dance,” which is strange because she’s usually one of the best female soloists around.)

We’ve now got another song to add to the hit list with Park Ji Yoon’s “Mr. Lee.”

For those of you who don’t know, Ji Yoon first found fame as a teenager in the late nineties under JYP Entertainment. Her popularity peaked around 2000 with the release of “Coming of Age Ceremony,” which went on to become one of the most iconic K-pop hits of the noughties and is generally considered K-pop’s definitive good-girl-gone-bad single. The past few years has seen her move into less pop-driven territory, peaking with last year’s acoustic “Tree of Life,” which was straight up K-indie (and fucking beautiful).

“Mr. Lee” sees Ji Yoon returning to a more contemporary sound with the help of producer, Primary. Unlike some of Primary’s other productions, the sound isn’t immediately recognizable as his own: His signature squelchy synths and electronica is swapped in for breakbeats, a chopped & screwed horn section, and old-school disc scratching. Ji Yoon’s not the strongest vocalist but she knows how to pick the right songs and use her voice to the best of its ability, which she does here while sparring with rapper, San E.

Brown Eyed Girls were the first females to jump on Primary’s sound with “Recipe,” which seems to have opened the doors for other ladies to follow. Kahi’s “It’s Me” and Elly’s “Love Me” weren’t Primary productions, but you can tell that they’ve been influenced by his sound. Don’t be surprised to see more and more artists doing some variation of this urban K-indie sound in the near future. (Which is exactly what I said in my Elly post, and then BAM, we got “Mr Lee”.)

Speaking of Kahi, Elly, and Park Ji Yoon, can you imagine how much better American pop music would’ve sounded this year if some of the too pop tarts recorded these songs instead of “Work Bitch” and “Roar”? Katy would’ve kill “Love Me,” and Britney would end careers with “It’s Me” — even without doing the signature choreography.

  • Nicole Naeun

    Been jamming to this song since its release! Pop-indie sound is definitely the new trend. And that video with those phuckin handsome men >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • KingBeaArthur

    That last paragraph: co-signed.

    This song is a HIT. I was hooked from the first listen. I’m more familiar with PJY as an actress – what little she’s done – than I am with her discography but “Mr. Lee” was enough to turn me into a stan instantly! If this is the direction music is going in Korea, then I’m in.

  • dnxo14

    Park JiYoon looks like miss A’s Fei. Also, Fei has a good voice (if not better than jiyoon). By this, I mean Fei can go solo ahahaha

  • Quang Phạm

    *imagining Brit’s voice singing It’s Me*

  • Dub

    Ji Yoon’s voice is a bit thin and sort of grating, especially in that live performance, but I can overlook that thanks to the amazing funk music Primary has composed for this track.

    I’m surprised you didn’t like Ivy’s I Dance. The end section after the rap, where the synths come in and the pounding beats begin, is sublime!

    • yeah i’m surprised too! i loved “i dance”, but i gotta confess that mainly because of yubin

      • Josh Chinnery

        Same; I probably wouldn’t have payed it much mind if it wasn’t for her feature (even though I always shake my head in sadness because it was subpar)

        • true.. it almost blink-and-miss feature… jyp should release her solo!

          • Josh Chinnery

            That would be amazing on so many levels…

  • haha i totally agree! koreans are doing american pop music way better than americans themselves… and for years!

    now… this type of contemporary urban sound is my kind of shit! i love everything from the corny scratches to the jazzy guitars and of course the horns. “mr. lee” sounds like a cool asian cousin from amy winehouse’s album “frank” and keep them coming k-pop because it’s effind delicious!

  • lildarien

    This song is good, but it’ll never surpass her wig snatching diss track

    • lildarien

      “I run this place, i’m the Manager!”

      You tell em honey.

  • bluesatellite

    Doesn’t Katy already have a song called ‘Love Me’ on Prism? Which is a great song btw

  • ThatKPopGuru(Pedro)

    This song is too good to even exist. Diva Ji Yoon was too merciful on us. Need so much more of this *-*