It was just a little more than a month ago that one of K-pop's brightest stars left this world too soon when Jonghyun took his own life at the age of 27. As a final, bittersweet gift, fans are able to hear and watch the final works of his life with the release of his posthumous album Poet | Artist and the music video for "Shinin'."
Poet | Artist is an emotionally jarring experience given most of it veers more upbeat and lively, a major juxtaposition to the mental difficulties that Jonghyun spoke about plaguing him. "Shinin'," which was planned to be the promoted single from the LP and was given an accompanying music video, is a glittery, electro-disco track that lets the 27-year-old's unique, Elvis-esque crooning with the catchy chorus showcasing how easily he could jump through different vocal stylings and make even the most difficult notes sound effortless.
The album stays in the forward-thinking electronic-pop-R&B world that one could have expected from Jonghyun's past releases in Base and She Is. While most of the record is at a higher tempo, the record does end with the jazzy piano ballad "Before Our Spring" where Jonghyun details a cold winter and the troubles he's going through now, before telling the listener not to worry about him and that his metaphorical spring will be coming soon. There's a haunting, heartbreaking last line where Jonghyun sings "When spring arrives," repeating "when" almost as if he's asking out loud when he's going to feel warm and better again.
Before the release, Jonghyun's Korean record label SM Entertainment announced that the profits from the sale of Poet | Artist will be given to Jonghyun's mother, as well as "the foundation for the establishment of an organization to help those who are living in difficult circumstances."
While Jonghyun's final album may be a tough listen for fans, this is also undoubtedly a celebration of a someone who was not only a poet and artist, but a singer, songwriter, producer, dancer, radio host, author, bandmate, son, brother and beloved idol to so many around the world.
Poet | Artist is available now on iTunes. If you or someone you know is having mental difficulties or suicidal thoughts, you can call a suicide hotline no matter where in the world you live.