| by Zessa Ghaisani
SHINee’s Jonghyun, born Kim Jonghyun on April 8, 1990 was a lovable man. No one would have thought that his life would end that fast—died by the age of 27 on December 18, 2017, from carbon monoxide poisoning, left fellow friends and fans in grief. The hashtags #StrayStrongShawol and #YouDidWellJonghyun even trended worldwide on Twitter when the news broke.
SM Entertainment released Jonghyun’s last self produced album, “POET | Artist” posthumously on January 25, 2018, with all the profits from the album went to Shiny Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by his mom with the goals to aid young artists who struggle from lack of management. The album, consists of Jonghyun’s pre-recorded songs and he had also recorded the music video for the title track “Shinin’” was a success at the time. His latest posthumous work was included in SHINee’s song, “Lock You Down” which was featured on their album, “The Story of Light EP.3”
Shiny Foundation recently held a memorial tribute in SMTown COEX Artium on December 17, 2018, which consisted of art fair and some of Jonghyun’s friends and well known celebrities such as SHINee’s Key, Taemin & Minho, EXO’s Suho, SNSD’s Taeyeon, Red Velvet’s Yeri, and some others attended the event, while the others who couldn’t attend sent video messages to the event.
Jonghyun was SHINee’s main vocalist, he also wrote most of SHINee’s songs and known for his dancing moves as well. Jonghyun was also known as the first SM Entertainment artist to write and produce his own songs—and it’s considered very hard since SM was known as a very strict agency but they acknowledge Jonghyun’s talent. Not only for himself and his own group, Jonghyun also wrote songs for fellow labelmates and singers as well.
Below, I will list down some of Jonghyun’s best tracks, which were written and/or produced by him, sung by him or even other artists (which I compiled in a Spotify playlist here)
- 하루의 끝 (End of a Day) – Jonghyun, (“Story Op. 1”, 2015)
This is probably Jonghyun’s saddest song in my opinion. On the day of his death, I got reminded of this song. immediately. SMTown recently posted a video of Jonghyun last night, in lieu with 1 year anniversary of his death, with this song as the background music—adding even more sad vibe to the song.
- Odd Eye – SHINee, (“Odd”, 2015)
The sultry R&B song—yes you read it right, I called the song ‘sultry’, which he co-wrote with SHINee’s Key, was a very nice and easy to listening song to open the album “Odd”. He also co-produced the music for “Odd Eye”, which featured nice harmonization of the quintet and Jonghyun’s thriving falsetto could also be heard in the song.
- A Gloomy Clock – IU ft. Jonghyun, (“Modern Times”, 2013)
Move on to Jonghyun’s produced and written song for other artist, IU’s “A Gloomy Clock”. It was his first written song to be released by another artist which also featured his deep vocals. The melodious harmony of the song was also including bossa nova beats, xylophone sounds, and rythmic strings.
- Playboy – EXO, (“EXODUS”, 2015)
“Playboy” was written and produced by Jonghyun for fellow labelmate, EXO. The song itself had a sultry R&B feel which the members of EXO delivered perfectly. The staccato-heavy lines were harmonized with soulful coos from the members. It’s no surprise since EXO is one group that’s specializing in harmonization and their skills on it are no joke.
- Breathe – Lee Hi, (“Seoulite”, 2016)
Fun fact, Tablo of Epik High initially requested Jonghyun to write and compose a song for Lee Hi’s comeback which he agreed to and “Breathe” was then produced. YG Entertainment’s CEO, Yang Hyun Suk was deeply impressed by the song despite knowing nothing about Jonghyun’s participation until the music video was finished filming. Lee Hi herself loves this song so much, and when she performed this song for Jonghyun’s tribute in 2018’s Golden Disk Awards, she bursted into tears and couldn’t continue the performance.
- Lonely – Jonghyun ft. Taeyeon, (“Story Op. 2”, 2017)
The song served as the title track for Jonghyun’s album, “Story Op. 2”. Jonghyun had repeatedly mention his desire to collaborate with SNSD’s Taeyeon and the track was composed as a mid-tempo ballad, consisting of a heartbreaking piano sounds telling a story of “loneliness”. The duo harmonized to a soft beat and twinkling synth. After his death, the song rose to top of all Korean music charts.
- Moon – Jonghyun, (“She Is”, 2016)
“Moon” was co-produced by Jonghyun with producer LDN Noise. A minimal, slow thumping beat in the background mixed with Jonghyun’s falsetto belting in the chorus part of the song. It is definitely one of Jonghyun’s best song, and my personal favorite from the album.
- Let Me Out – Jonghyun, (“Story Op. 2”, 2017)
“Let Me Out” delivered what was called ‘a yearning’ from the late artist. Deep, seductive voice, singing heartbreaking lyrics, which eventually turned into a high-belting vocals. We can hear his dynamic vocals in just one song only—and yes, not many singer could do this, and Jonghyun was one of them who could nail this perfectly.
- 산하엽 Skeleton Flower – Jonghyun, (“Story Op. 1”, 2015)
Also known as “Diphylleia Grayi” told the artist’s regrets accompanied by a movie-worthy orchestra alongside the singer’s raw vocals. His harmony ranged progressively before the song concluded in a silent sound.
- Juliette – SHINee, (“Romeo”, 2009)
The song may not have a sad tune like the others—well EXO’s “Playboy” also didn’t have any sad vibes in it but it has a slow and chill R&B vibe, but it was Jonghyun’s first songwriting work which was released by SM Entertainment. Jonghyun co-wrote the song, with SHINee’s Minho also participated in the rap verse. A toe tapping beats, featuring the quintet harmonization, the song was initially a remake from “Deal With It”, a song by Jay Sean and Corbin Bleu—which SM bought the right for the song from Hollywood Records.
A year has passed since Jonghyun’s death, but his legacy will still remain. His death might be one of the most celebrities’ heartbreaking death, and also a wake up call for all of us to take care of our own mental condition. Jonghyun, you did well. Rest in peace.