Total Score: 4.80
Sound Quality: 3
Singing Quality: 6
Contextual Fit: 3
Lyrics Only (man it’s hard to find stuff about a song called “I Am” when there is also “Who Am I” and “Here I Am”)
Release Date: 09/20/2007
I have… uncomfortable thoughts about the lyrics to this song, to the extent that I kind of don’t want to write about it.
So regardless of how much I pick on SJ’s songs, I am (as is hopefully still clear) a big, big SJ fan. I critique because I care. And because this project was in part inspired by me listening to later SJ songs and being proud of how far they’ve come. This song is directed at ELF, or at minimum “a girlfriend who comes to SJ shows”, and makes references throughout to Super Junior as stage performers/singers/dancers. And most of the song is “I can sing because you’re out there listening” and things along those lines. But there’s a line in the chorus which is “I’m an ordinary man, dal nal mideojwo / Mudae wiui moseubeun jeonbuga anya”. It translates as “I’m an ordinary man, (more) (me) (you must trust) / (stage) (above) (appearance) (everything) (not).” Basically, “please believe me, there’s more to me than stage presence.” And you know who wrote the lyrics to this? Sungmin, Leeteuk, Eunhyuk and Donghae. And on the one hand, there is a part of me that goes, “Oh my god, this is a cry for help! The fans don’t understand that they are humans, that there is more to them than happy smiley pin-up stage SJ, I GET IT JUST ME LET ME LOVE YOU.” And the other part of me goes “what, you think 99% of ELFs didn’t hear this and think the exact same thing?” And then I feel really manipulated, and also like I’m creepy.
So, er, rather than spend too much time on this sorting out my own feelings about my interpretation of what those particular lines meant, let’s get into the song, I guess.
Kyuhyun’s line near the beginning is super wavery on “doeji”, and Hangeng sounds like his name should be Dave. He sounds like a dude who wandered into the studio and sang the line passably but is not actually a group member. Somebody was not watching the door, and Dave snuck in and sang a line. And you know, my brain is all over the place right now because of that damn stage presence line, but I just randomly skipped to a part in the song and immediately heard a sour-ish note, and went “is that Sungmin?” and yes it was Sungmin. And Kyuhyun sounds loudest in those choruses, and he’s not someone who sounds like he’s straining to reach high notes all that often (he sounds fine up until his voice cracks), but that’s a pretty high chorus – the entire thing sits in the D#5-A5 range. And you can hear he’s pushing that right out of the top of his head, and it’s written to have verses in D major but choruses in E major and was that modulation reeeeally necessary? Did Kenzie put that there?
The melody here was written by someone named Greg Lynch but arranged by Kenzie, and if I try to think of what this song would have sounded like as a demo, or like as a dude with acoustic guitar, I am suddenly reminded of Steven Curtis Chapman and youth group and “Our God is an Awesome God” and so forth. Pretty sure it’s that IV-iii-vi move in the chorus.