Total Score: 5.71
Sound Quality: 5
Singing Quality: 5
Contextual Fit: 5
Release Date: 01/26/2009
What? What is this? A Hangeng solo song! With an MV, no less! Granted, it’s an MV in the same way that “The One I Love” has an MV, but it DOES have Hangeng in it so I’ll count it. “Youth Dreams” (or “Dreams of Youth” as I’ve also seen it) was released in conjunction with his C-drama, 青春舞臺 Youth Stage. Haven’t done a huge amount of googling into what that was about, but from the video, looks like Hangeng essentially played “someone resembling himself”, who goes through extensive training in his home town in order to become a pop star. Lots of dramatic head turns, exercising, sweating, etc.
Remember how I’ve been fairly regularly referring to Hangeng as Dave? In the sense that his voice has historically been fairly bland – not necessarily actively BAD, but pretty nondescript: not much vibrato or energy, it’s just kind of there, and it stuck out in its nondescriptness when up against pretty much anyone else in SJ. “Youth Dreams,” though, finds a way to sort of make this work. If the premise is that Hangeng is a kid with big dreams of being a pop star, and if the song is all about “don’t give up on your dreams you’ll reach them someday etc etc etc”, I think it sort of makes sense to have a boring-ish voice. *WILD SPECULATION* I don’t think Hangeng’s character in Youth Stage was some special untapped talent who comes out of nowhere to superstardom; looks much more likely that he was a regular kid who works his face off and maybe becomes a one-hit wonder, or succeeds in the local community performance that would mean so much to his grandma, or something like that. He shouldn’t have an epic voice. *END OF WILD SPECULATION BECAUSE I LOOKED IT UP* OK, he’s not even a singer in the show, he’s a dancer. Even more sense being made. (Also I guess SJ-M shows up at the end and dances to “Me” with him which lol. They should have brought Eunhyuk, Shindong and Donghae and had a dance-off again.)
The song isn’t amazing in terms of composition or performance, but I’m inclined to give it more points than I might if this was like, a Kangin song or something, not because I’m down on Kangin but because of Hangeng’s surprising ascent into puddingness. Less than one year after the release of this song, he was out of Super Junior citing an exorbitant contract and SM’s refusal to take into account the physical strain that the constant performing and touring was putting on his body. I got into Super Junior quite some time after Hangeng left, so I didn’t naturally develop the feels about him that uh, more grandfathered (bad term but I’m blanking) SJ fans had. But watching SJ’s older performances and songs, and various other one-off things (like that dance video I linked in his profile), there’s a lot of adorableness. Especially the closer we get to the end of 2009. Feelings everywhere. Regardless of how physically shit he must have felt, he always soldiered through with a genuine-looking smile. Regardless of how difficult communication was with the other members of SJ, he always looked game and like he enjoyed their company. I watched a few of his post-SJ music videos and was a bit underwhelmed (the ones I saw seemed a lot like he or someone was trying to push a “I AM ANGRY AT SM AND/OR THE POP INDUSTRY” motif, and this was YEARS later, so ehhh) (also I am not going to review any of those because he was not an SJ member at the time) but SJ-era Hangeng was… I dunno. I get very GANBATTE!! about Hangeng. Or whatever the Mandarin equivalent is. “Jiayou,” says Google. JIAYOU HANGENGGGGG