Helen Hong’s new single “hold u,” is a commanding slice of life – it’s a song that gnaws on your emotions, that drags you into its world, that embraces life’s magnificent uncertainty. Slated for release on October 15, “hold u” reflects on the temporary nature of affection and the ways in which we try to hold on to one another, aching for a future that we don’t fully believe in.
Will this feeling last beyond the year?/Will I get to hold you when it all begins again?
The song asserts an obvious grip on production; each instrument is slotted perfectly against the other, each harmony and breath in seamless alignment. No wonder, seeing as Hong holds a Master’s Degree in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games. Her background is equally clear in the cinematic nature of the piece. The song has a strong arc, a rise and fall that is grounded in both the lyrics and the sonic storytelling. But despite its cinematic structure, the song doesn’t take itself too seriously – it plays up a youthful ache without pitching itself as a tragedy.
Meet me in the middle of the city/Walk down the road we found last winter by the sea
Speaking of youthful ache: this song will make you feel things. It just will. Prepare yourself for that. Between Hong’s gorgeously blended harmonies, the emotive soundscape, and the nostalgia-ridden lyrics, there’s not much room for indifference. It will almost certainly make you think of an old friend or lover, and how it felt to be away from them for the first time. Remember that boundless love. That boundless hurt. This song will take you there. It will make you think of the person you never expected to lose.
Nothing ever stays the same/These stars may never show again/So I’ll hold you when I see you again
Although “hold u” deals with heavy themes of nostalgia and absence, it has another trick up its sleeve: the chorus is catchy. I mean, seriously. It’s catchy. I’ve had it stuck in my head all day. And I can’t even complain – it’s a delightful song to have on repeat all day. It’s both a sad song and a banger, a combination that is in high demand today following the viral success of grim pop stars like Lorde and Billie Eilish. Another similarity between Hong and those mass audience artists is the level of control both in vocals and production. Every aspect of the soundscape is intentional, concise, and clean.
What a shame/What a stupid game
The bridge is a swell of Hong’s tender vocals, flourishing strings, and emotion that builds then snarls open in the final chorus. Yet even toward the end as the vocals separate and overlap, there’s a distinct sense of control – there are no loose ends in this song. No disconnected moments.
Helen Hong’s new release “hold u” is a vision of longing and precision, a reflection on temporary love and the ways we try, desperately, to hold on to one another. It conjures images of darkened skylines and familiar faces. It will bring you back, and hold you here.