Ryu Siwon

Ulala

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    5
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A Korean actor with a long résumé of Japanese albums (and TV dramas), Ryu Siwon is in many ways more notable for his driving than for his singing. Nonetheless, he's had a strong career built around his vocals, and Ulala is a basic showcase of his form of modern pop -- which is different from what else is popular in Japan. It's an older, more nostalgic form of pop built around lounge singing (still popular with older Japanese and Korean listeners). His voice is pliable here, able to go flat seemingly on cue to squeeze out just a bit more of a note, able to croon over a held note just a little longer when needed. The music itself is what's going to let listeners down, however. Fans of the melodrama of lounge singing will enjoy this one thoroughly, but newcomers will be befuddled by the apparent genre switching, by the cheese factor inherent in both the lounge songs and in the attempts at rock power ballads that come off as so much generic stadium pop chanting -- he's reaching for a Bon Jovi aesthetic but not quite finding it. It's all filler, but it's enjoyable filler to a certain extent.