South Korean singer-songwriter Ahn Heesu (안희수)’s new single “Always With You” is a soft pop rock ballad of hope for love lasting, and disbelief for having found it in the first place. At the start of the song, he confesses to feeling like he’s in a movie, wondering how love could be real in his life:
Maybe everything in front of us
Doesn’t it seem like there’s a script that’s all written down?
can this be?
The lyrics repre- You know what, let’s go off script. We have a few things to cover first, namely: Karaoke, and endless melancholy.
Let’s start with karaoke: it has so many connotations. Raucously fun, destructively bad, ear-bendingly obnoxious – surprisingly good?
In East Asia, it’s an entire lifestyle, dominating after-work gatherings and drunken nights. In the Philippines, it’s taken seriously enough that out-of-tune performances of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra can cost your life.
Luckily, this is a much happier story. This is a story of Ahn Heesu, in his late 20s, looking for a way out of his passionless job. Hoping to discover some hidden talent, a skill worth quitting and running blind into something new, he finds his salvation in a soju-soaked pastime.
Cue the night of karaoke.
His friends have always told him he has a good voice, but this time? He believes them. He actually does it: he quits his job to become a musician despite having no training, no songs, and knowing no instruments. His family thinks he’s crazy, his friends probably regretting the snowball effect of complimenting his pop covers.
But he puts in the work. He trains his voice, he teaches himself guitar, determined to stand out by writing his own songs. And over time he builds a discography. By now he brags 14 singles, one EP, and two albums.
It’s been five years since that debut. You can still hear the bright enthusiasm that got him on this path, but perhaps it’s this long journey that mellows his current music with an earnest, weathered-down sound. Now, his gentle optimism shines in a mist of melancholy.
The second half: endless melancholy.
Ahn Heesu’s songs are made for those who are lost. Someone “in the depths of endless melancholy,” in his own words. Sometimes, he admits, that lost person is himself.
“Always With You” (with its Korean byline, “In a world where you have to understand things you can’t understand) falls into the soft underbelly of K-indie rock, electric guitar and drums fused with the bright modality of jazz melodies. Similar to the style of JANNABI’s hit “for lovers who hesitate“, their voices even share those soft, round vowels and surprising depth and grain.
The lyrics are supported by the warbling beat of the electric guitar, bright backing vocals, and relaxed drums. The breakdown emphasizes the strength of Ahn Heesu’s higher register, airy and full of emotion:
I want to live my whole life in a mess with you
nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about
There’s a striking sincerity to the sound, to the simplicity of the lyrics. When I listen to this song, I can feel that kernel of longing that burst open that one fated night of karaoke. I can feel the victory that this song is, a testament of hope against his worst days.
Ahn Heesu’s story is a lot like many in the music field. We feel discouraged, we feel let down by ourselves, by our skill – sometimes by more modern problems: the algorithm, streams, TikTok virality. Whether it’s superficial or internal doesn’t exclude you from the amazing revelation of rising above all that melancholy and doing what you love anyway.
So treat your inspiration like karaoke. You won’t always sound perfect, but the fun of it will always take you to the right place. And treat your disappointments and worries with the gentility they deserve; they only brighten the success of your braving on.
“Always With You” is more than a love song – it’s a song about hope and belief, about holding onto what gives you joy. Maybe as you listen you’ll feel that kernel of inspiration in your heart and perhaps, like Ahn Heesu, witness it blossom.
And here comes the last rousing chorus:
Let’s make love every day
When I’m with you, it becomes infinitely childish, somehow I like that
Oh, let’s share our pain to our heart’s content
In a world where you have to understand the incomprehensible.