South Korean singer and rapper, Heize first became visible to the public eye with her presence on ‘Unpretty Rapstar’ back in 2015 and since then her journey’s been tumultuous. Having now found her home at PSY’s P Nation, ‘HAPPEN’ is her 7th mini-album and the first piece of work with her current agency that was released on 20th May 2021.
Featuring major players of the music industry including Vincenzo’s Song Joong-ki, the album has 8 tracks with ‘HAPPEN’ as the title song. Crediting ‘The Walking Dead’ and relating with the walkers on the show, Heize was able to come out of her rut and create her newest masterpiece with the help of her brilliant and starry team.
Heize herself has taken part in writing the lyrics for 7 of the tracks with Giriboy contributing for ‘Hi, hello?’ and ‘Rebel‘s’ Ahn Ye-eun writing as well as performing the duet, ‘From the Rain.’ Then we also have Epik High’s Tablo who helped arrange ‘Flu,’ the track featuring Changmo. Gary of ‘Lonely Night‘ fame as well as ballad singer Kim Feel too, have participated along with GLEAM and Davii. With some of her popular tracks featuring the likes of her labelmate, Crush, Loco and BTS’ Suga, we do wonder how her latest collaborative project will turn out.
“I don’t know if chance encounters are truly by chance.” – Song Joong-ki in HAPPEN’s music video.
Before we get to the song, we have to talk about the music video featuring Vincenzo’s Song Joong-ki. Directed as a K-Drama, we see social isolation with parallels to Edward Hopper’s paintings of the modern busy man. Heize and Joong-ki give us a heartfelt story in ‘HAPPEN‘ about feeling lonely in the big city as we live our life, ignoring the small moments that could probably lead to true love. Simple and clean, the instrumentals give it a fresh feel that accentuates Heize’s sweet vocals. Even then we can feel the emotions of how precious our time is with those we love and what we call coincidence is actually destiny.
The sadness in her voice is not lost on us as she sings “If I hadn’t, in that moment gotten lost/If you hadn’t, on that day gone through a painful breakup/…/With what precarious time we have/We waited for one another.”
Like the first time (ft. Gary)
Continuing the theme of coincidence versus destiny, ‘Like the first time’ is a sorrowful ballad full of heart-wrenching moments and high-notes accompanied by high-octaves played on a piano, the only major instrument in the first half. Using her voice as an echo during the crescendo, it feels like Heize is underwater, struggling as she begs, “I need you/Still feel you/…/Please heal me/Cause I can’t hear you babe.” She comes back stronger right before Gary’s rap which adds to the intensity as they sing about the relationship fading away.
Flu (ft. Changmo)
Artfully laid out, we’d be doing a disservice to the album if we didn’t take a look at the lyrics and how each song is linked together. Reminiscing back to the underwater effect in the previous track, ‘Flu’ begins with “Swallow my memories under the water.” And while ‘Like the first time’ was trying to save a dying relationship, ‘Flu’ does the exact opposite. Heize mournfully sings, “Before it’ll hurt more/I’ll let you go/Before all the good memories/Will become bad.”
Matching Changmo’s energy, she shows also off her rapping while alternating with her falsettos in this chill R&B track. Changmo’s gritty voice and laid-back verse complement the mood of the song as the atmosphere turns hopefully bleak. By the way, did you know that Heize’s labelmate, D.Ark also featured Changmo in his latest EP ‘GENIUS’?
‘Why’ takes the retro synths usually used in peppy tracks and slows it down, creating an experimental pop-ballad suited for the desperate Heize as she chases after her love in despair. The bilingual chorus strikes a chord in the listener with the lyrics, “Why don’t you fall in love/How much longer do you have to abandon me?” But while the track is about unrequited love, the motif of companionship and loneliness is evident. Here is where the recurring theme of fate comes into play as Heize patiently waits for the one who will finally be there for her.
“Every part of everyday life is related to separating. There are a lot of things to face in reality. That’s why you sympathize with me a lot.” – Heize on why she is known as the ‘Breakup Master.’
The Walking Dead (ft. Kim Feel)
‘The Walking Dead’ is a stunningly soft duet about heartbreak. Kim Feel of ‘Itaewon Class’ and ‘Reply 1988’ fame croons along with Heize as they sing about an ex that they can’t seem to forget. Feel and Heize harmonize so spectacularly during the bridge that it feels like it could pass off for an equally melodramatic K-Drama soundtrack. The poignancy of the lyrics does not dissipate as they continue, “I’ll hug you a little more and go/I love you/Thank you for waiting for me/I love you/I’ll let you go now.”
Since moments like these are transient in our similarly short human life; since it seems like fate that brought the other person in our life, however briefly, it is in our human nature to not erase our feelings so hastily. This is what Heize tries to convey with ‘The Walking Dead.’
From the Rain (ft. Ahn Ye-eun)
Made by Heize’s long-time collaborator, Davii as well as Ahn Ye-eun, ‘From the Rain’ takes a chilling turn from the R&B ballads that we had become accustomed to in this EP. The track starts with the strumming of traditional instruments as it seems to be a fusion of oriental and Russian folk music – think balalaika. It doesn’t help that the staccato-like beat that underlies Heize and Ye-eun’s melodies are additionally evocative. But like her previous tracks, the arrangement can’t hide the sorrow behind the song as Heize reminisces about a long-lost love and hopes that even though they aren’t together anymore, they can “leave a trace and go.”
With Heize slowly accepting love’s short nature, her tracks seem to get melancholic as seen in ‘Hi, hello?’ Using contrasting electro synths and percussive instruments, GLEAM and Giriboy create a delicately powerful melody that blends well with the higher register Heize picks for this song. While previously she tried to hold on to old relationships, this time she takes a stand and bids goodbye to her ex. Accepting that they weren’t right for each other, she sings, “I hate you, but it’s nice to see you.”
Destiny, it’s just a tiny dot.
Heize ends the album, ‘HAPPEN’ with this dreamy outro made by none other than GLEAM again. While there are no lyrics, the hidden background vocals are hauntingly beautiful. The arrangement is immaculate as it starts off as the intro to an intense Polish score before descending into the distinct vibe that Heize has created with the first 7 tracks. The plucking of the guitar is accompanied by a violin’s plaintive note that would be perfect to listen to on a rainy night. The wistful track speaks volumes even without Heize’s voice as it perfectly embodies the word destiny.
Aptly titled, ‘HAPPEN‘ is a moving album that is more sweet than bitter as Heize takes a glass full approach to life. Instead of stating every good and lucky moment in our life as a coincidence, she prefers to call it fate. Yes, things happen, but they happen because they’re a part of our destiny. As Heize simply puts it, “[HAPPEN] contains the feelings you have when looking at people around you.”
Do you agree with her view? Were you as excited as we were over Song Joong-ki’s cameo in her music video? Which is your favorite track from the EP? Let us know below.