Breath

Saturday, August 30, 2014

There was so much I wanted to say, but I couldn’t say anything. We said that we were okay as we were comforting each other in pain. When I look back, we were only happy, we haven’t let each other go.” –Jonghyun & Taeyeon (SM The Ballad), Breath (Korean version) [translated lyrics]

"SM The Ballad Vol. 2 - Breath" mini album cover by SM The Ballad - source: en.wikipedia.org


SM Entertainment is one of the biggest entertainment labels in South Korea which is well-known for its always-good-looking and multi-talented idol groups. It was four years ago when SME first created a project group that could emphasize the vocal ability of many talented singers  under its wing. This project called SM The Ballad. On November 2010, this project was debuted with all-male-vocalists line-up that consisted of Kyuhyun of Super Junior, Jonghyun of SHINee, Jay Kim of Trax, and a rookie new face named Jino, the new SME’s trainee back then. Just like the project’s name, SM The Ballad focused on singing ballad songs rather than dance pop routines that idol groups always show. Their first mini album was considerably success, making all the fans were anticipating for their comeback soon after. But then, Jay Kim was joining the army to fulfill his duty, and Jino was neither being seen again nor debuting, making the comeback was still unclear and putting the fans on the waiting mode.
Finally, after a long four years of waiting, in the beginning of 2014 SME announced that SM The Ballad would make a comeback with a line-up change. This new formation later was revealed would be consisted of Jonghyun of SHINee, Yesung of Super Junior, Taeyeon of Girls’ Generation, Krystal of f(x), Chen of EXO, Zhou Mi of Super Junior-M, Max Changmin of TVXQ, and Zhang Liyin. On February 13th 2014, SM The Ballad’s second mini album was released, titled “SM The Ballad Vol. 2 – Breath”. Prior to the release, the lead single of their second mini album, “Breath (숨소)”, was released on February 10th 2014. This song is a duet and released in three different versions by language. The Korean version is sung by Jonghyun and Taeyeon, meanwhile the Chinese version is sung by Chen and Zhang Liyin, and also the Japanese version by Max Changmin and Krystal. All of those three versions’ lyrics are centered about a broken-up couple, but are told in a different words and languages. The focus of this review is the Korean version, which is performed by Jonghyun and Taeyeon. This solely because Korean languange is more ear-catchy for me rather than the Chinese and Japanese.

Jonghyun and Taeyeon in the music video of "Breath" - source: hanbeat.com


“Breath” depicts two people who just broke up, and now they long for each other, so much that they can’t take it. They used to be together as lovers, but somehow now have separated. Their separation has caused worse damages more than they could ever imagine. And when one of them can’t bear the longing, out of nowhere, he just grabbed the phone and called the other one. “Without even knowing, I was holding on the phone, “It’s me, it’s been a long time”. Because it was so hard, because I felt bad if I held you back, because I regret letting you go, I just let out a sigh.” On the other side, she received a call that surprised her. She least expecting it, but most desiring it. Hearing that familiar voice again, and in just a second, all of longing feelings brought her to tears. “Because I was so surprised, I couldn’t speak. I was holding on to my trembling heart. “Are you struggling a lot? Where are you now?” Before I could even ask, tears fell down just by hearing the sound of your breath.” Through that one phone call, they realized that these days without each other were like living in hell. Yet both of them were too afraid to tell the other that they had hard times alone. So, instead of telling the truth, they just let out a sigh foolishly. “Breathing, opening my eyes every day, barely getting through each day, I couldn’t tell you that those things were harder than dying, in case you would get worried. So, like a fool, I just let out a sigh.”
There were so many things that they want to say to each other, but those words were just left unsaid. Instead, they were lying to each other, saying that they were doing just fine. “There was so much I wanted to say, but I couldn’t say anything. We said that we were okay as we were comforting each other in pain. When I look back, we were only happy, we haven’t let each other go.” But through that one phone call, one thing couldn’t be avoided; it was their flooding memories and lingering affection toward each other, and it was clearly still there though they didn’t say anything. And it was hurt so much until the point that they neither could say nor do anything about it. “When tears are falling like this, I don’t even know what to do with my little cherished memories, because it hurts so much. I know that we promised to let each other go, but when I keep thinking about you, when it’s so hard that I can’t take it, just like this, at least please let me hear your breath.” So tears were falling. For now, for them, just by hearing each other’s breath was more than enough. “I know that we promised to let each other go, but when I keep thinking about you, when it’s so hard that I can’t take it, just like this, at least please let me hear your breath.”

Jonghyun and Taeyeon during SM The Ballad Joint Recital - source: SMTown's official Facebook page


At first, I was so excited knowing that Jonghyun and Taeyeon would collaborate for SM The Ballad. I was highly anticipating to see their performance. Well, the recording itself wasn’t disappointing, it was very great in fact. Just like what I expected, their voices matched well in harmony. Moreover, “Breath” is a very beautiful song. Hence, I was quite surprised when I saw their live duet performances. Sadly, it was quite disappointing. Why? Because there was no chemistry. During the live performance, it seemed like both Jonghyun and Taeyeon were just duking it out to outshine each other and stand out by themselves instead of supporting each other as a duet partner. It was so lack of chemistry that should be found in every duet performance. Fortunately, the pain from that disappointment was healed a little by the beautiful music video, well, only a little.
A music video (MV) for “Breath” was released on February 12th 2014. Beside focusing on the singers, the MV also contains some footages from a mini-series titled “Mimi”. “Mimi” is a four-episodes mini-series broadcasted by a television cable channel, Mnet, on February until March 2014, starring Shim Changmin (Max Changmin’s stage name as an actor) and Moon Ga Young. It was based on a 2007 movie titled “M”, which was starred Kang Dong Won and Lee Yeon Hee. It turned out that “Breath” was the theme song of the mini-series, which the storyline depicts a man who has partial memory loss about his first love that had been separated form him due to a tragic incident, and he slowly begins to reminisce as his long-forgotten memories are resurrecting. This song’s lyrics suit well with the series’ storyline. Despite all lacks that Jonghyun and Taeyeon have during the live performance, “Breath” is still a beautiful track. And of course, as a fan, I feel so glad that SM The Ballad has come back.

When tears are falling like this, I don’t even know what to do with my little cherished memories, because it hurts so much. I know that we promised to let each other go, but when I keep thinking about you, when it’s so hard that I can’t take it, just like this, at least please let me hear your breath.” –Jonghyun & Taeyeon (SM The Ballad), Breath (Korean version) [translated lyrics]




“Nado moreuge jeonhwagireul deulgo marasseo naya cham oraenmaniya
(Without even knowing, I was holding on the phone, “It’s me, it’s been a long time”)
Neomu himi deureoseo japgido mianhaeseo neoreul bonaen ge huhoedwaeseo hansumman swineungeol
(Because it was so hard, because I felt bad if I held you back, because I regret letting you go, I just let out a sigh)

Neomu nollaseo mari naojido anhasseo tteollineun gaseumman butjabasseo
(Because I was so surprised, I couldn’t speak, I was holding on to my trembling heart)
Manhi himdeunji jigeum eodi inneunji mutgido jeone nunmuri heulleosseo ne sumsoriman deullyeodo geurae
(“Are you struggling a lot? Where are you now?” Before I could even ask, tears fell down just by hearing the sound of your breath)

Nunmuri ireohke heulleonaerimyeon
(When tears are falling like this)
Akkideon nae jageun chueokdeulmajeodo eojjeol jul molla
(I don’t even know what to do with my little cherished memories)
Neomu apaseo seoro nohajugil yaksokhaetjiman
(Because it hurt so much, I know that we promised to let each other go)
Jasin eobseul ttae gakkeum sumsorirado deullyeojugil
(But whenever I’m not sure that I can do it, at least please let me hear your breath)

Sumeul swineun ge maeil nuneul tteuneun ge gyeou harureul saneun ge
(Breathing, opening my eyes every day, barely getting through each day)
Jungneun geot boda himi deundago nege mareul motaesseo
(I couldn’t tell you that those things were harder than dying)
Geokjeonghal geot gataseo babocheoreom hansumman swineun geol
(In case you would get worried, so like a fool I just let out a sigh)

Hagopeun mari manhado nan amu maldo mothago
(There was so much I wanted to say, but I couldn’t say anything)
Da gwaenchantago seororeul dallaego apahaesseo
(We said that we were okay as we were comforting each other in pain)
Da doedollimyeon urin haengbokhagiman haesseo nochi motago isseo
(When I look back, we were only happy, we haven’t let each other go)

Nunmuri ireoke heulleonaerimyeon
(When tears are falling like this)
Akkideon nae jageun chueokdeulmajeodo eojjeol jul molla
(I don’t even know what to do with my little cherished memories)
Neomu apaseo seoro nohajugil yaksokhaetjiman
(Because it hurts so much, I know that we promised to let each other go)
Jakku nega saenggangnal ttaen chameul su eobsi himdeul ttaen
(But when I keep thinking about you, when it’s so hard that I can’t take it)
Ireohkerado gakkeum sumsorirado deullyeojugir
(Just like this, at least please let me hear your breath)”

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