Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

12 Of The Best Solo Tracks By SHINee’s Jonghyun

April 8th marks the birthday of the recent Kim Jonghyun of SHINee. It would have been his 28th birthday (international age) if he were still alive today. Unfortunately, Jonghyun passed away on December 18th, 2017 after a long battle with depression.

Although the talented artist is gone from this world, his legacy and art still remain behind as a testimony to one of the greatest modern songwriters and vocalists in Korea. Although the list of his best songs could honestly be endless, we have narrowed it down to 12 of our favorites tracks and performances.

These are just some of the songs that made Jonghyun respected as both a soloist and songwriter/lyricist. Instead of being sad on this day, let’s celebrate what an amazing artist Jonghyun was and how many lives he touched through his own solo music and art.

Happy birthday, Jonghyun! We miss you so much and are so grateful for these amazing songs you left for us.

12) “Crazy (Guilty Pleasure)” featuring Iron

This amazing song was the first single off his debut mini-album in 2015. Starting off his solo career, he showed that he was fully capable of providing great music with his own color and style. Although some critics were wary of both the start of a solo career, as well as this song, he proved them wrong when fans fell in love with the track, as well as all the others from the album, entitled Base.

11) “End of a Day”

A track that truly allowed people to glimpse into the heart of Jonghyun, “End of a Day” was a beautiful ballad that focused on Jonghyun’s pristine vocals as he delivered the bittersweet lyrics with simplicity and style.

10) “Déjà-Boo” featuring Zion.T

A sexy, seductive funk track, “Déjà-Boo” was a triumph for Jonghyun. It clearly showed the depth of his versatility and that he refused to play it safe by producing typical pop tracks that would appeal to the mass audience. Instead, he created his own sound and stayed true to himself as an innovative artist. Ultimately, it would prove a wise decision as it ended up bringing Jonghyun such success and respect as a solo artist from both music critics and fans.

9) “Hallelujah”

Jonghyun’s voice was so powerful and majestic that sometimes the best songs were the simplest. “Hallelujah” certainly proved that idea to be true when they kept the accompaniment to a minimum and let his voice shine over a religious-inspired choir with their soft, backup vocals. The lyrics talk about being so overwhelmed with the beauty and heart of the person you love that you stand in awe and simply thank God.

8) “Love Is So Nice”

Sometimes flowery words and phrases just don’t cut it when it comes to love. When words fail, simple sincerity is always best. That’s the way Jonghyun went about when describing love in this song. The time spent together, the look in each other’s eyes— he summed it up with perfect simplicity by saying that love was just so nice. The song itself also let fans appreciate the great vocal control that Jonghyun had in his upper register.

7) “Lonely” featuring Taeyeon

A song that touched many people and allowed them a deeper view into Jonghyun’s soul, this track featured his best friend Taeyeon of SNSD. The song tells the story of two people who feel lonely and sad, despite being together. Since they don’t want to burden each other with their struggles, they just keep their feelings hidden inside, thus resulting in an even greater loneliness.

6) “She Is”

“She Is” has a unique sound that could truly only have come from Jonghyun himself. It’s a funky, upbeat, R&B track with fun synth sounds and plenty of vocal improvisation and “ohh” and “aah” sounds for which Jonghyun became famous for spreading throughout both his songs and those of SHINee. Catchy and colorful, both the song and MV showed fans Jonghyun’s brighter side.

5) “Let Me Out”

This powerful ballad left a lasting impression on fans, especially after Jonghyun’s unfortunate death. The desperation of the lyrics cry out for help, asking anyone to just notice him and help bring him out of the exhausting struggle. The melody and the sound of the song bounce back and forth— from soft to strong, slower to faster— echoing something of the frantic mindset that can come with such internal thoughts. At his highest, soaring notes, heavy voice effects are used to give it an almost otherworldly sound.

4) “Elevator”

A stunning masterpiece, this is one of my favorites on the list. Throughout the lyrics, you will see the depths of Jonghyun’s heart and weariness fully revealed. Believe me, it’s not for the faint of heart when you look back on these lyrics and know how he must have suffered. The song tells the story of Jonghyun catching a glimpse of himself in the mirrored doors of an elevator and barely recognizing himself and who he has become. What follows is a conversation with himself and his reflection, asking his reflection not to hide things, asking him how often he has cried lately, and simply letting him know he’s not alone by telling the reflection hello. Heartbreaking and beautiful, Jonghyun expressed what we have all felt at one time.

3) “Y Si Fuera Ella (Hyeya)”

This is hands down my all time favorite song by Jonghyun. Originally sung by famous Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz, Jonghyun reached out to ask permission to cover the song and write Korean lyrics for it. When permission was given, Jonghyun proceeded to write stunning lyrics that kept the feelings of the original while still adding his own style and vibe. What followed was an impeccable vocal performance filled with such raw emotion that it almost hurts to hear it. The lyrics are from the view of someone begging their lover not to leave them. They try to take responsibility for everything— asking forgiveness for being too needy and promising to give them more space. At the same time, however, they continue to lament the fact that their lover is leaving and confessing that they cannot live without them. The already beautiful song becomes truly stunning with the overwhelming intensity of Jonghyun’s feelings as he delivers a perfect performance of heartbreak. (*Please note that this stage performance deals with despair and death. As such, it may be triggering to some readers. For a lyrics video only, click here.)

2) “Before Our Spring”

What made Jonghyun so special as an artist is that he wasn’t afraid to dive into his emotions. As deeply as he felt depression and heartbreak, he also felt hope and love. In “Before Our Spring,” he tells about observing the person he loves from a distance and hoping for better times in the future although they are apart now. He sings sweetly and idealistically of a blossoming spring with love, but in the next moment, he confesses that he is too scared to approach the person and be heartbroken. Rather, he is more content to watch the person from a distance and just be satisfied in knowing the one he loves is ok.

1) “Shinin'”

When someone makes the decision to commit suicide, it’s unfortunate that many people will always equate that person with tragedy and sadness. Jonghyun was such a multi-dimensional person and artist, however, and couldn’t be explained solely by his slower tracks or heartbreaking tunes. He also can’t be boxed in just by his funkier R&B songs. At the end of it all, this is the song by which he wanted to be remembered.

I am firmly convinced that Jonghyun’s decision to end his life had been made well before his final album and concert. In my mind, this was further solidified when I listened to “Shinin'” and the rest of his posthumous album, Poet|Artist. It is impossible to ignore the subtle messages and the words he chose to leave behind. Despite the circumstances of his passing, I sincerely believe he was asking people to remember the brighter, happier side that he always showed onstage. In “Shinin’,” we hear about Jonghyun falling in love and being fascinated by someone. As such, he promises to always be with them and asks them to do the same. I find it no accident that this is the song he chose for the title track of what would become his final album.

Colorful, beautiful, catchy, hopeful, and endearing, this song wasn’t just by Jonghyun… it was Jonghyun.

Jonghyun, we continue to miss you so much! We pray that you are at peace and have found some rest at least. We will always remember you as the brilliant, talented artist that you were in life.

Although we are celebrating the life of Jonghyun, we would like to make it clear that we firmly believe that suicide is NEVER the answer for any person on this earth. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also visit HERE to chat with someone online. For overseas fans, you can find a list of international resources by clicking HERE.

What is your favorite Jonghyun song? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

lee1086 is the co-founder and director of What The Kpop. When not writing or editing articles, she is watching Kpop music videos or Kdramas. She is a huge fan of Super Junior and the perfection known as Eunsihae. When not obsessing over the flawlessness of Donghae or trying to decide if her SHINee bias is Taemin or Key, she is playing the piano, loving on her dog, watching every fancam of Kai ever known to man, and hanging out with her family and friends. She is multi-fandom to the core and misses Jonghyun every single day.


4 thoughts on “12 Of The Best Solo Tracks By SHINee’s Jonghyun”
  1. My favorite songs so far are: Deja-Boo, Hallelujah, She Is, Elevator, 1000, Hyeya, Before Our Spring, Shinin’, Take the Dive, Crazy (super awesome!), End of a Day, Just for a Day, Only One You Need….The lyrics are carefully written and deep, that you won’t easily forget.. He is indeed a true artist!

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