NCT's Jaehyun's "Forever Only" Solo Debut Is An Emotional R&B Bop
He just made "sexy lonely" a thing.
Thanks to NCT’s Jaehyun, it looks like “sexy lonely summer” is in full effect this season. On Aug. 18, the singer released his first-ever solo single, “Forever Only,” and it’s an absolute banger. He also released a dreamy music video to accompany the track. IYDK, Jaehyun is a member of the K-pop group NCT 127, which is one of the many subgroups underneath the ever-expanding NCT umbrella. Now, he’s venturing off solo and is brandishing a sultry vibe: “sexy lonely,” a term used in a recent British GQ profile. So, how does this newfound energy blend in with “Forever Only?” Allow me to dive into the English translation behind the new track.
The guitar-laced record eases in with the chorus, which is an emotive testament to Jaehyun’s “sexy lonely” vibe. He tenderly coos about how tortuous it is to be apart from his significant other, especially when he’s envisioned a future with them.
“The empty space you left behind / Fills me with more longing / Bit belated this irony / Heart is lost and lonely, lonely,” he begins the track.
This solemn theme is the crux of the ballad, but don’t let that fool you — the track’s melody is nothing close to somber. The looped guitar chords in the beginning branch out into a full beat, complete with subtle synths and Jaehyun’s layered harmonies. Honestly, the instrumentation slightly reminds me of an early 2000s bop — think “7 Days” by Craig David, but a tad bit more modern.
As he vocally swims through the first verse, Jaehyun reflects on how much his partner changed his life. He’s never witnessed a love like this, and now, with his other half out of the picture, it feels like their relationship was just an illusion. In the last section of the first verse, he sings:
“Your empty space not getting any clearer / Where you been my whole life? (Where you been?) / One toss and turn, you fade / Alone, it was all a dream (Alone, it was all) / A passing illusion.”
The NCT performer takes listeners back to that snappy chorus, where he further elaborates how heartbroken he is.
“Leaving a pain that spreads / The goodbye and a final kiss (Oh, yeah, yeah) / Now I see you walking away / Be my forever only, only (Only),” he warmly adds to this section.
Jaehyun’s pen game only strengthens in the second and third verse. There, listeners are able to visualize just how special his once partner was to him. He sweetly sings how their aura illuminates like a “glimmering ocean,” and how unforgettable their presence is in his life. He then dedicates the entire third verse to the ocean again, which could be him describing how stunning and comforting his ex’s affection was.
“Dusk settles upon the night ocean / The colors deepen / Two gazes ebb and flow / Unfathomable depths of the night ocean / Sink deeper and deeper / This warmth still remains,” he beautifully details.
With descriptors such as this, witnessing a love like that sounds so intense yet swoon-worthy. By the final chorus, Jaehyun’s still swept up by the powerful relationship. He even adds several layered high notes in background as small pleas for his partner to return, even though that might not happen.
In the sepia-hued visual for the track, the singer-actor croons about his loneliness in several locations. He begins the groovy track by strumming a guitar in his bedroom, before relocating to a serene beach. He bounces between fawning over the stunning waves and playing his guitar, and it’s a rather gorgeous sight.
At night, he hops on his motorbike for a while before returning to the beach for a quick dip in the ocean. Now, no heartbreak anthem wouldn’t be complete without a cinematically dramatic water sequence, so I love that little detail. By the end of the visual, the singer menacingly stares into the camera while a single flame floats before him.