Every day until the end of March, we’ll highlight one of our favorite kband or boy group vocalists on a countdown to #1.
Lucky number #13 is my one, my only…
… No Jeonghun of Hoppipolla, more commonly referred to by his stage name, I’ll.
So, look: if I, Lucy, ran this blog all by myself and had my say, instead of a month long event of favorite kband or kpop boy vocalists like we’re running, I’d spend a blog post a day for thirty days on different reasons that I’ll is my favorite singer.
Alas, I am only the co-owner of this humble little site, and we spent time ranking these artists carefully and thoughtfully to place him where he is where BG and I could both agree. But fair warning… this writeup is still probably gonna be… a lot.
And so, while he’s #13 on this list, he’s #1 in my heart. Cheesy.
It’s strange that I love him as much as I do and still honestly don’t even know how to talk about him. One would think with how much time I spend listening to and thinking about Jeonghun/Hoppipolla it would be easy to put it all down on the page, but it feels next to impossible to put into words what his voice does for and to me and just why I love it so much.
I guess I can start by saying that besides language, music is and has always been my biggest passion.
It would make sense, then, that when I happen upon musicians as breathtaking as every single member of Hoppipolla is that I would fall head over heels, and I did.
…so quickly and clumsily and freely that I nearly kicked Radiohead out of the top spot for favorite band ever, kicked myself in the damn head on accident and have been dizzy ever since with my total love and obsession over these men. Dizzy enough where I scarcely even know what to say, I guess.
I preface with that because I know that when I write about Hoppipolla, I invariably bring up their Creep cover–and if you read these, you’re probably like ‘oh my goddd are they seriously going to talk about that song YET AGAIN?!’
But that’s only because I’m ~a young millennial~ and I think the younger gen doesn’t really fully appreciate what a joke of a meme of a song Creep was for like three decades until Hoppi got ahold of it.
It’s been so long since music just made me… feel without trying, and I am still absolutely floored that it was this man’s voice in a cover of this of all songs that did it. I liked the cover from the first note but then I’ll opened his mouth and I heard him sing for the first time and, like, my soul left my body.
That hasn’t happened since I fell in love Radiohead as a teenager–Radiohead who, of course, and somehow appropriately, were responsible for Creep in the first place.
Because Hoppipolla’s emotional impact rivals what Radiohead has done for me in my formative years as well, they are so, so important to me.
His voice is a huge part of that emotional impact for me; it is just so ridiculously soulful and rich. You know how people talk about old soul eyes? I’ll’s got an old soul voice. It’s seen some shit. It’s been around. It knows what life can look like when it gets ugly.
In a different sense, it is a sound that transcends time and genre, truly.
You could drop him off in any decade and let him get to work on his piano and his voice would work perfectly. He sounds natural on everything from textbook ballad tracks like Your Ocean to fun electropop inspired tunes like Let’s!. He’s even got scat singing from the 1940s down in their cover of 오늘도 난/Today, I.
He works a sort of magic with that voice of his and the music Hoppipolla creates. I’ll is so creative that, when he arranges covers, they sound like completely different songs.
Usually when people cover something, they simply play the same notes and sing the same melody and don’t do much at all to put their own spin on them.
Hoppipolla’s arrangements, with I’ll’s heavy influence, turn covers of songs that I’ve heard a thousand times into poignant masterpieces that I feel as if I’m hearing for the first time in my life.
To be able to do that while working within the confines of someone else’s creations and to write original songs every bit as beautiful on their own… it really makes Hoppipolla special.
I have something called synesthesia which is a syndrome that causes your senses to get sort of crossed and mixed up; in my case, when I listen to music or any sound, really, I hear a color. Yeah, hear.
An image floods my mind, of hue and of texture, and I can almost literally see it in the air in front of me. The songs that trigger it are an entire, immersive experience, and the first time I heard I’ll sing, I knew I was in for quite the show.
So, to help me out, I’m going to do my best to describe what I “see” when I listen to I’ll sing from a synesthetic standpoint, because few other vocalists have ever triggered my synesthesia as heavily and as consistently as Jeonghun does.
In About Time, for instance, I’ll’s voice is as robin’s-egg blue as a spring sky, where the winter sun is slowly shifting to summer and the world finally feels a little more hopeful again.
In Sorang, his voice is what happens when you open a window in the house one day in March and instead of the bite of winter clawing at your skin, you get that warm yellow sunlight peeking in–your first taste of inviting weather after months of frigid, miserable cold. It sounds like hope.
In Your Ocean, his voice is the silky light grey snowcloud that settles over the fields in early December, hanging low in the sky just before it drops a gentle wave of flurries that float to the ground and slowly blanket the earth in muted quiet, in total peace.
In Unnatural, his voice is the color of seafoam on the wave as it swells and then crests before returning to the ocean in a dramatic crash. In Are You There, it’s a fuzzy purple neon light burning out and flickering at the end of an alley.
I could go on, but I’ll stop.
In all songs, all of the time, regardless of the color or texture conjured, his voice is a soft fleece blanket. Something about his voice just feels like someone saying ‘it’s okay.’
It’s familiar somehow, like I’ve been hearing it all my life while at the same time being like nothing I’ve ever heard before. It’s comforting in a way that almost literally nothing else is.
When I’m not needing comforted, honestly–his voice will just literally make me grin. Even during their abysmally sad cover of Before You Go.
Ah… love-lettery again.
For a band with such a relatively small catalogue, one would think that eventually, I would grow tired of listening to the same dozen or so original tracks over and over again, but I literally don’t.
Every time there is something beautiful and somehow fresh to enjoy, and so much of that for me has to do with I’ll’s voice.
I think maybe it boils down to this: I’ll feels every single blessed note that he sings. It clearly doesn’t just come out of his throat and chest–it propels itself forward with remarkable force yet plenty of grace, and it comes right from his heart and soul, colors each syllable with poignancy and feeling that you absolutely cannot help but to stop and listen to.
As for the texture, it’s the way that I imagine white noise stations on old televisions would feel if you could run your fingers over the static itself–smooth but a little prickly, a blanket of subtle texture that is difficult to describe but easy to feel all the same.
Overall, it sounds like the soul desperately reaching through the mouth, begging to be heard, dedicated to the task of expressing itself. To me, it sounds like the human condition. Or maybe just the way I personally experience life. No other songs besides Radiohead have ever given me that.
Sigh. I just… y’all, I just really, really, really love No Jeonghun. Can you tell?
For all… yikes, nearly 1500 words above and so many more, I’ll makes it onto our list at # 13.
I’ve put together a quick list of some fav I’ll vocals below but really you should just listen to everything you can find :’)
ab6ix astro ATEEZ baekhyun blackpink bts chung ha cix cravity dreamcatcher DRIPPIN exo gidle golden child got7 hoppipolla ikon itzy iu Kang Daniel mamamoo MCND mirae MONSTA x nct Oh My Girl Oneus ONF OnlyOneOf Pentagon PIXY Purple Kiss Red Velvet Seventeen SHINEE stray kids Super Junior T1419 TRI.BE Twice Up10TION Verivery Victon WEi WJSN