Anything that one Kim Jaejoong drops is going to get a swell of attention. He’s undoubtedly one of Korea’s greatest exports, not to speak of his talent. But something magical happens when he goes to Japan. Having been dubbed The Prince since his days as DBSK‘s main vocal, it’s no surprise that his first actual single after enlistment is a midtempo Japanese pop ballad.
With all the flare and drama only Japan can provide, the MV for “SIGN” is everything you’d expect from Japan’s Korean prince and more. The opening scene alone — Jaejoong wailing to the high heavens surrounded by an overlay of flames that seemingly explode from the capped block letters of his name — is as over-the-top as you’d expect.
As the first breathy notes of his husky tenor float through the air, we find our hapless protagonist stumbling through a forest, overcast by a mystical aquamarine light. We’re confused just as he is, as if woken from an endless sleep only to find ourselves surrounded by what seems like nature. But there’s something quite ethereal about the place, as if we’re thrown headfirst into a fairy tale.
We get flashes of a memory — Jaejoong and who we can assume is his lover sitting on the couch sharing intimate touches. As the scene unfolds we see that there’s a palpable distance between the couple. They embrace, hold on to each other, but they never once look at each other. As the song reaches the first bridge on a dramatic musical swell, the two are seen back-to-back — again touching, but now even their faces are averted.
Then suddenly … fire. Lots and lots of fire. Jaejoong’s voice leaps from his lower register to the higher parts of his tenor to express his emotional turmoil. The man is in pain … and still not quite sure where the hell he is. He howls out the English lyrics of the chorus, “Please give me a sign tonight.” Then it’s her, there in the flames that surround him.
Jaejoong’s vocals are airy and tender at the song’s opening, then blast into what’s become his signature power belting. Whether it’s what we want or even deserve in his first musical release since 2016’s “NO.X,” it’s what we’ve got. The man’s voice hasn’t lost any of its punch, that’s for damn sure.
Far be it from me to complain about anything concerning Kim Jaejoong doing anything in Japan, but international fans who were hoping for more than a minute and a half of their favorite vampyre will either have to invest in a pen pal or a Japanese VPN. Japanese companies are just now starting to allow their artists’ videos to play on YouTube in different countries again. It’s no surprise that all we’d get is the throwback “short version” of Jaejoong’s comeback.
That being said, if “SIGN” — as well as his first variety appearance in Japan in nearly 10 years — is any indication, Jaejoong is going to be spending a lot of time in the country. Perhaps he’ll gift fans with more music, more television appearances and, if we’re lucky, his first Japanese drama role since 2010’s “Sunao ni Narenakute”? (Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?)