Saturday, February 10th, 2018

Uhm Jung-hwa – Ending Credit

A nice way to ride off into the sunset…


Joshua Minsoo Kim: Released at the end of 2017 to little fanfare, “Ending Credit” felt like a quiet and appropriate way for Uhm Jung-hwa to ostensibly close this chapter of her life. It’s as much a bittersweet reflection of her career as it is a humble acceptance of its end. She acknowledges that the peak of her popularity has passed, singing of audience members leaving a theater one by one. At the end of “Ending Credit,” people have entered again–not for her, but for the next act; she’s grateful for the memories, and will gracefully pass the torch to someone else. It’s appropriate, then, that those who had a hand in the single–songwriter Suran, producer Primary, choreographer Lia Kim–weren’t a force in the K-pop industry when she last released music. Even more, it only took a month for there to come a song that felt like its successor. Sunmi’s “Heroine,” which features the same choreographer, finds the former Wonder Girl utilizing similar imagery. She repeatedly proclaims that “the show must go on,” and it’s a phrase that feels powerful in this context. Women like Kim Wan-sun and Uhm Jung-hwa paved the way for female soloists in Korea; their careers may be over, but their shows will go on in the careers of others.

Iain Mew: The pulse and sigh of “Ending Credit” is a bit elegiac-by-template, but the imagery is much better chosen. The moment of dazed transition as the movie finishes and everyone packs up to go back into whatever is out there is a fine one to pinpoint.

Tim de Reuse: Pleasant but predictable; the only melody close to being memorable is the stop-start ascending bit in the chorus, and the rest floats by as a shimmering, formless blob. It might have at least been easy on the ears the time if the drums weren’t so dreadfully overcompressed; the kick has the weight and the timbre of a cardboard box, while the punch of the snare sublimates into an obnoxious hiss.

Anjy Ou: Lush and echoey synthpop that feels at once nostalgic and contemporary. It’s the perfect stage for veteran Uhm Jung Hwa to return on, and she delivers a gorgeous performance – her airy voice just dances through the soundscape. Huge kudos to the songwriters: Primary is no stranger to big songs, and Suran is no stranger to emotive productions, but their combined powers mean that when this comes on I have to drop everything so that I can fully experience it. 

Micha Cavaseno: A lot of warped notes and cold electro pulse, with Uhm Jung-hwa’s vocal sounding less like a blaze than embers. “Ending Credit” is a record that lives and dies by its retiring moments, wading through dreams and memories rather than pushing up against the present with force and effort. Truly a somber sort of resignation that manages to make melancholy its victory.

Julian Axelrod: Growing up, my parents always made us stay through the end credits of every movie. (This was pre-Marvel, when there was no guarantee of a teaser for a sequel to a spinoff tie-in at the very end.) Occasionally I’d get antsy, but some of my fondest moviegoing memories involve watching the names of production coordinators scroll by as the lights come up and people file past me. It’s a weirdly intimate act, sitting with a movie until it has nothing left to give. When you come to the end of any relationship, whether it lasts two hours or two years, you find yourself wanting to soak up the last moments before the definitive end. Hindsight might change your perspective after the fact (and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this fragile synth pulse is custom-made for driving home at night.) There will be others, or maybe you’ll revisit this connection somewhere down the line. But for those last few minutes, there’s something beautiful about staring down the end.

Ryo Miyauchi: This is how you hope it ends: by the time the credits roll, you not only hope your name ends up near top billing, but you can also review the reels of better memories without much pain. Where “Ending Credit” might apply a tad too much focus in its cinema metaphor in the lyrics department, the dusky, burning synths balance the cheese-to-seriousness ratio. Those two halves already make the song a bittersweet break-up disco, but it’s a different story when it’s sung by Uhm Jung-hwa, a woman who clocks 25 years in this business. Through her, details of existing audiences and the slow fade out not only sing about love but also life on the screen. Through her, those details take on layers of experience as not a lone instance of heartbreak but a series of them. She may star in many other stories after this particular split, but she knows it never gets easier.

Reader average: [9.6] (5 votes)

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3 Responses to “Uhm Jung-hwa – Ending Credit”

  1. Really into Maxwell’s blurb, particularly the notion that her voice sounds “less like a blaze than embers”. Also really into Julian’s :)

    As a note, I don’t think it’s been confirmed that Lia Kim was the choreographer for “Heroine”. However, I’d be extremely shocked if she wasn’t considering she did the choreography for 24 Hours and Gashina. And, like, so much of the choreography screams Lia Kim (all the precise hand movements, the arm swing into lock, the crouch bounce).

    This is also a perfect excuse to recommend the films Marriage Story (1992) and Marriage is a Crazy Thing (2002), a couple of the best Korean films of their time, and both starring Uhm Jung-hwa!

  2. Confirmed to be Lia Kim choreography

  3. I actually linked that in my blurb! I was referring to the choreo for Heroine