SM Entertainment released, Kim Jonghyun’s, popularly known as Jongghyun, posthumous album Poet|Artist on Tuesday. Kim’s final album showcases the artist’s meticulousness, complex artistry and the struggles of being an entertainer in a world of constant scrutiny.
Jonghyun title track ‘Shinin’ is the signature electronic-pop he became popular for while a part of South Korean boyband, SHINEE. The song is a promise to always be with a loved one no matter what. It also captures the vibrant personality Kim showed while performing and on variety shows.
The music video reflects the retro vibe Jonghyun established through his previous albums. Jonghyun transitions into various vibrant, gradient backgrounds as he croons his way into the hearts of listeners and Shawols while wearing his signature smile.
‘Shinin’ is Jonghyun’s last gift to fans.
While ‘Shinin’ is an upbeat song filled with everlasting promise of comfort, other songs on Poet|Artist present the darker sides of being an artist.
B-sidetrack, ‘Hashtag’ tells an eerie story of how one-sided living in limelight can be. sings of how there were constant rumors being spread about him, but there was no one who could do anything about it. His company overlooked the controversies.
This song is a powerful message about the ugly side of fandom culture and entertainment. Artists seem to be at the mercy of those buy their products, yet are the ones providing their audiences with an outlet to identify some kind of commonality in their struggles.
Beyond that, Jonghyun’s albums and death create a dialogue that has been relatively silent in Asian entertainment. The stigma attached to mental health is deafening. Those who suffer from mental illness do not seek treatment in fear of criticism, but for those who do they are simply deflected and told it is just an aspect of who they are.
However in Jonghyun’s case he did seek help. Unfortunately, he was told his mental illness was just a part of his personality, according to the singer’s suicide note.
This declaration by his doctor only encourages the ‘endure’ mentality many people of color have within their communities.
As audiences across the world remember former Shinee member, Jonghyun, it can only be hoped that his art truly speaks to the souls they were meant to touch. All of us who struggle.
Despite the sorrow that surrounds Jonghyun’s death, there is an uplifting joy. The album is a rollercoaster just like the rollercoaster of life.
The final track on Jonghyun’s Poet|Artist, Before the Spring is a sweet, reassuring track that says all will be okay. Perhaps the most gut-wrenching part is the ending. It feels like the listener can hear him slipping away as he sings his final notes. Still, the calm, sweetness of his voice does reiterate things will always turn out okay. Things are always rough in the winter, but somehow work out in the spring.
Not only should Jonghyun be remembered for his artistry, but he must also be remembered as an activist. He was an advocate for the LGBTQ community in South Korea, and he always reassured being different was okay. He was a voice for those who felt too different to find a place in this world.
Jonghyun, 27, died on December 18, 2017 via carbon monoxide poisoning. He was the leader of international boyband Shinee. He is survived by his mother and sister.
All of the proceeds from Kim’s album will go to help those struggling like Jonghyun, according to SM Entertainment.