Skinny goddess Park Ji Yoon has had an interesting career. She started out as a teen idol in the ’90s, and later staged what is probably still the most iconic good girl gone bad transformation in K-pop history with “Coming of Age Ceremony.” In her twenties, Ji Yoon took a more active role in the direction of her music, breaking out of the idol mould but suffering a commercial decline because of it.
Ji Yoon disappeared for a while, but she made a comeback (an actual comeback, not a “comeback” in the K-pop sense of the word) with last year’s Primary-produced “Mr. Lee.” It was the first time in years that PJY had really been able to merge her trendy idol side with her K-indie side and smash the charts while doing it.
Clearly onto a good thing, Ji Yoon sticks to pleasing both sides of the Korean music scene with her new double A-side single, Inner Space.
The title track is a dream-pop whirlpool, emanating twinkly ’80s synths and melodic 808s. Ji Yoon feels her lyrics rather than sings them, as if we’re reading her mind inside an immersive soundscape. She expresses various mistakes she’s made in relationships over the years, starting out quite matter-of-factly but allowing a hint of self-loathing to creep in by the end.
In case you couldn’t tell, that’s the indie track.
Although the mainstream single of the pair, a retro dance-pop ditty called “Beep,” isn’t exactly what you’d consider your average by-the-numbers K-diva bop. Tarantino guitar riffs surf through the chorus, and the second verse descends into stutters as a dumbfounded Ji Yoon, stunned by some magnetic hottie, repeats the same word about twenty times like a broken record. It’s fuckin’ awesome.
The music video is even more of a delight, with Ji Yoon serving vintage Soul Train realness with actual legit footage from the famous variety show cut in. The only way to tell the difference between the old clips and the new MV is by the race of the people getting their Saturday Night Fever on.
I never really believed it before, but now I’m seriously starting to think the current crop of popular K-divas are better than the Western pop girls are right now. Well, not all of them (Miley remains kween, and Ke$ha is coming for post-rehab wigs), but Park Ji Yoon, Sunmi, and Seo In Young’s recent output >>>> Prism, Britney Jean, Beyonce.