If there’s one thing anyone can be certain about after listening to Wonho’s music, it’s the love and gratitude he has for his fans, known collectively as ‘Wenee’ (which stands for “We Are New Ending” or “We need”). More than just lip-service, they are a vital part of his identity as a solo artist and source of inspiration and strength, particularly through the most challenging season in his music career.
It’s no surprise then that he’s penned songs for the fandom as a way to express his feelings, like how he did with ‘Losing You’, his first-ever solo English release back in August 2020, which also featured in his debut mini-album ‘Love Synonym #1: Right For Me’. Five months after making a triumphant return to the K-pop industry, Wonho continues presenting his fans with musical love letters in the next part of ‘Love Synonym’, aptly titled ‘Right For Us’.
Where ‘Right For Me’ was an eclectic mix of genres and tempos that showcased different sides of Wonho, ‘Right For Us’ seems to have found a well-balanced equilibrium in both sound and vibe.
Title track ‘Lose’ is a sultry, mysterious start to the mini-album, with a solemn piano introduction that transitions into deep EDM pulses. This takes it down quite a notch from the groovy sounds of his debut single ‘Open Mind’, but it doesn’t make it any less of a bop. While the English version seems to address a player who’s got him wrapped around their finger (“Cos baby in your game of love / Know I’m gonna lose”), it’s in the Korean version – written by Wonho and singer-songwriter Brother Su – where Wonho showcases the true vulnerability of the song: ”The moment that I miss you / The moment that I return to you / I lose”.
That very same vulnerability is also reflected in ‘Weneed’, this album’s fan-dedicated track sung entirely in English. The idol has not been in the physical presence of his fans since late-2019, due to his hiatus after leaving boyband MONSTA X and the subsequent heightened social distancing measures in Seoul during this solo debut, and references this on the uplifting anthem. He tugs at the heartstrings of his fandom by conjuring an image of a post-pandemic world where both he and his fans can reunite once again: “When I’m back on the stage to sing this song / Will you be there for me again? / When I’m back on the stage / Can you wave your hands again?.”
On the flip side, there’s ‘Flash’, which Wenees had the chance to listen to during Wonho’s solo online concert ‘#IWonhoYou’ in late-September 2020. Safe to say, there weren’t any dry eyes in the (virtual) house – including his own – as he sang and even rapped about missing the warmth of the light that once guided and embraced him. The song could have very well been the emotional core of the mini-album, but placing it after the hope-filled Weneed’ creates an odd anti-climatic effect; switching the two around could have better reflected the shift in his thoughts and feelings after returning to the limelight.
The standout track on ‘Right For Us’ is no doubt ‘Ain’t About You’, a sensual and flirtatious collaboration with American singer-songwriter Kiiara. The singers’ complementary voices and groovy harmonies add to the fun vibe of this liberating (and slightly cheeky) tune about standing up to not being treated right in a relationship. This might be Wonho’s first-ever duet with a Western artist, but if it’s anything to go by, fans will definitely be clamouring for more collaborations from the K-pop singer.
All that culminates with the stirring closing track ‘Outro : And’, where Wonho’s tender vocalisation gradually gains momentum against the song’s soaring instrumentals. It’s not hard to imagine it being played the moment he finally steps on stage – like the backing track for a phoenix rising from the ashes – to perform in-person for the fans who fiercely fought for and faithfully awaited his homecoming. Till that day arrives, this mini-album will be the musical bridge connecting Wonho and Wenees, in spirit and heart.
- Release date: February 26
- Record label: Highline Entertainment