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“This Time, It’s the Flamenco!”

Posted July. 06, 2004 22:22,   


“I feel like I’m an actress rather than a singer. I sing for fun—as if it’s a pastime.”

This is the provocative statement made by singer Lee Jung-hyun, whose fifth album, “Passion,” recently hit the shelves of record stores. Nevertheless, since she first ignited a nationwide techno dance frenzy with her debut singles, “Come” and “Change It,” Lee Jung-hyun’s constant transformations over the past five full-length albums testify to the truth of the maxim, “Fun is the source of creativity.”

Her latest offering is also dance-oriented, but with strong, passionate Latin beats and rhythms. The overall concept for the album is “Spanish.” “The signature Spanish dance, the Flamenco, is powerful but restrained,” she explains. “Likewise, this album focuses on powerful dance songs, but its key point is its restrained moderation between strength and softness.”

The first single, “Do Like I Do,” is memorable for its tap-dance intro. It’s a vibrant song, with a cool Latin beat. The lyrics urge you not to give in to your worldly woes and invite you to shake off your troubles by dancing along with her. “Besame Mucho” is also a bright dance number, which blends guitar melodies with the crisp sound of castanets. An appeal to a departed lover to come back to her, the lyrics are uplifting with a deep undercurrent of pathos. Both songs were penned by hit-maker Yun Il-sang.

Other notable tracks include the electronica-style “Escape,” which uses distorted vocals for added resonance, and eminent ballad-writer Shin Jae-hong’s “Moonlight,” a slower song infused with a dreamy ambience.

In a music industry that “tailor-makes” countless singers, Lee Jung-hyun is a singer who “makes herself.” She comes up with her own ideas for each of her albums, and is famously exacting when it comes to ordering songs from songwriters. This time around, she searched the website of a Spanish dancer, ordered his DVDs, then created a modernized version of the Flamenco based on their contents, in consultation with her dance team.

“I try to take charge too much, so I always get into fights with my management company. Mr. Manager, you need to do your job a little better,” she says playfully while looking askance at him.

Among TV music show producers, Lee is known as the “sketch book of terror”: she draws her desired stage setting on a leaf of sketch book paper and demands that the producers replicate it for her. She even picks the marks for others that will take the stage with her, along with their clothes and accessories. In the end, 60 to 70 percent of her requests are accommodated.

Lee Jung-hyun is a perfectionist. Even the madcap dancing that occurs onstage, she explains, is the result of advance calculation and planning.

“People who know this about me might find my exhaustive meticulousness a bit scary. After all, I come across as very intense onstage. But in real life, I’m frank and straightforward.”

These days, she’s engrossed in Cyworld, an online community where you can create your own mini homepage. At her page on Cyworld, you can see photos of her makeup-free face and verify her penchant for potent potables.

Sun-Woo Kim sublime@donga.com