005.

이하이 - 한숨 // Lee Hi - Breathe

When I first heard this song when it came out in March 2016, it seemed like any other ballad. I was also more in love with “손잡아 줘요; Hold My Hand,” so I didn't care to pay close attention to this song. But recently I went back to Lee Hi on my iTunes and realized how beautiful this song, or particularly, the lyrics are. And when I saw this live version, I felt so entrusted in the surge of emotions rendered through her incredible vocal.

The emotions are greatly heightened in the music video, or at least the pairing of the lyrics with the scenes of people moving about their routinized everyday. It's almost a cliché song. The imageries that serve as an assurance, a consolation, a message with hope for the lives of people who are struggling everyday and working so hard. Over the years, I feel like this particular sorts of imagery have become a representation of the neoliberal modern city life, particularly within South Korea. When watching this mv, it reminded me of Gary’s “Lonely Night” and so many other songs and videos with a similar message or purpose.

“남들 눈엔 힘 빠지는
한숨으로 보일진 몰라도
나는 알고 있죠
작은 한숨 내뱉기도 어려운
하루를 보냈단 걸
이제 다른 생각은 마요
깊이 숨을 쉬어봐요
그대로 내뱉어요”

“Even if in others’ eyes
your sigh is enervated
I already know
that you had a day
hard enough to let out even a small sigh
Now don’t think of anything else
Take a deep breath
Let it all out”

But I think the magic lies within the harmony of the simple piano arrangement laying the surface for Lee Hi's voice, moving from a calm husky falsetto to higher pitches, but particularly the lyrics. I had no idea that this song was written and produced by Jonghyun from SHINee. This totally elevated my admiration for him. I heard him say in his radio channel he hosts that his goal is to become a producer, and I think this song is an great example of his abilities.

“Breathe” is too simple to render all the details and connotations that come from the word. “한숨,” pronounced “han-soom,” is a sigh, or a short break, a rest - the breath you exhale from a relief after moments of despair, or being under tension or intense anxiety. I think it’s beautiful how the word can be seen as a compound word of “한; han” or “one,” and “숨; soom” or “breath,” although the actual formation of the word is not with this intention. 

이하이의 독특한 소울풀한 목소리로 마음을 안정시켜주는 희망찬 노래.

Despite the cliché message and imageries, the song itself delves into the sorrowful yet the hopeful. And I think Lee Hi expresses the deep emotions the lyrics are trying to portray very well.