When Jaejoong, Junsu, and Yoochun – or JYJ – waved goodbye to Dong Bang Shin Ki, I was a little worried, mainly because they no longer had that easy access to the high production value that SM Entertainment provides. As far as audible quality goes, SM spends a ridiculous amount of money to make their artists sound extremely good (don’t quote me on that), and let’s be honest, 95% of the time they do. Not only that, but JYJ were faced with the absence of two key singers – one bass and one tenor, and I mean, what’s a burger without buns? Of course, those two members (Changmin and Yunho) faced a far more challenging road ahead of them without their main vocalists there to fill in the voids. Both ways, the dynamics changed, and it was going to be interesting to hear exactly how they would manage to divvy up their parts. More so in HoMin’s case than JYJ.
But unlike their brethren, JYJ have had the opportunity to expose themselves and gain a little more experience as a three-member ensemble. Last fall, they released “The…” in Japan, and it was the first time we heard JYJ without the other two members (on a recording). As always, they reached #1 on the Oricon charts, and at this point, charting at number one should not come as a surprise to anybody. Rather than going back home to Korea though, they packed their bags and flew to America, where the sound of “The…” was noticeably replaced with a more Americanized style with hopes to break into the US market. JYJ released “The Beginning” in October with the help of American producer/rapper Kanye West and renowned producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins.
To put it lightly, their American foray was messy. Both the marketing and content of the album were way off base from the standards I had held in my mind for JYJ, and I know that if they had a clear plan of attack, things would have gone a little more smoothly. There were two or three songs on “The Beginning” worth salvaging, and okay, it wasn’t the worst thing ever, but one thing was certain: We still didn’t have a clear idea of what kind of sound would be definitive of JYJ.
Now Jaejoong, Junsu, and Yoochun are back in Korea with their latest EP, “Their Rooms“, and I should point out the emphasis on ‘their’, because they basically did everything: composed, wrote, sang, everything.
To say this mini album is impressive just doesn’t cut it. I sincerely forgive them for the mess and a half that was “The Beginning” because “Their Rooms” is exceptionally done, especially for the aforementioned fact that they did everything on it.
Oh, and by the way, I’ve introducing a rating system.