JAPONICANA, released on 3.07.12, is Jin’s first solo album. It was released simultaneously in the US on March 6th. The whole album is in English.
The album begins with Jin’s single 「Sun Burns Down」. The electronica and synthesizer make up the instrumental as Jin’s vocals echo in the song. From the first few lyrics, this song is very sexual (all the songs that Jin has been singing recently that are in English have been all sexual, anyway). The chorus is repetitive as he sings, “Baby, let’s go, make love until the sun burns down” with echo-ing backup vocals that cover the original main vocals. There isn’t much substance to this song as most of the lyrics repeat themselves over and over again.
Although the name of the song is 「California Rock feat. Prophet」, the instrumental is mostly made up the electronica/synthesizer while Jin sings in low vocals for, guess what, another sexual song! His vocals are slightly edited and he name drops (Black Eyed Peas) and the way he sings here kinda reminds me of D-MOTION (with KAT-TUN). He does swear in this song and now that I think about it, the part where he swears, sounds exactly like his line in D-MOTION where he also sweared in. There’s nothing really special about this song. It’s kinda boring.
I find 「That’s What She Said」 kinda offensive. But anyway, the instrumental is a repetitive electronica beat with heavy synthesizer. Jin’s vocals are heavily edited as he says two words (such as Japanese and English) and combines them (Japanglish). Some of the words he combines get really offensive and the chorus has a female voice saying, “I’m thirsty,” and him replying with “That’s what she said,” and then other sentences like it. There had been some discussion on this song about whether or not it is about date rape (since the lyrics has words like Blackout + Drunk, and also the chorus where the female voice says “This tastes funny”) and if it is, this is really offensive.
「Like You」 is a more lighter song as he starts off with “1 finger to the haters, 2 fingers to the fans, high fives to we made it”. The instrumental is a simple electronica and keyboard combination and Jin also does some name dropping (Michael Jackson and his song Billy Jean) as he sings in a lower key and hoarse vocals. Again, it’s repetitive but it’s light hearted but confident at the same time.
「Set Love Free」 is another light-hearted instrumental with the electronica mixing with keyboard. Jin sings normally here and quickly as he sings about letting his girl go if she really wants to leave, though he does say later that he knows she’ll be back. Well then… Goes with the same formula as Like You.
The next track brings back the heavier club-like songs with 「Aphrodisiac feat. Static Revenger」 with this time Jin singing about how you’re his aphrodisiac. It sounds a bit like Test Drive.
「Oowah」 uses the usual instrumental mix of electronica and has constant “Oowah”s in the background as Jin sings. There are also some “eys!” in the background, which I find annoying. Jin’s vocals are also autotuned. The instrumental is actually pretty distracting from his autotuned vocals. I don’t really like this song.
「Test Drive (7th Heaven Mix) feat. Jason Derulo」 starts off with a dramatic electronica/synthesizer instrumental as a voice says, “It’s Jin… Jason Derulo.” The song then goes into a techno-like electronica instrumental as Jin sings about taking a girl for a ride (cough, I really think this has sexual undertones to it. Is it just me?) By the chorus, Jin’s vocals get buried under the instrumental before it goes into the second verse which Jason Derulo sings in.
The album ends with 「Tell Me Where」, one of the bonus tracks (there are more, but I don’t have them). The percussion starts off the instrumental as his vocals sing “tell me where” I can’t really make out what he says after that, but the song soon speeds up as the instrumental becomes more busy with the mix of electronica and percussion as Jin sings with low vocals. The first verse slows down, the instrumental sounding more like the beginning part, as he sings really quickly. Later in the bridge, Jin’s vocals get autotuned.
I quite frankly don’t really like Jin’s US stuff… most of the time it’s really sexual and it seems more like he’s trying to fit into the mainstream music here. I like his Japanese stuff way better and although his vocals have deteriorated since then, these songs aren’t really doing much for his vocals.