K-Pop Music Reviews: Lee Moon-Sae – Sunset Glow

Title: 붉은노을 (Sunset Glow)

Release Year: 1988

We are going WAY back into the past. Everyone, temporal-vortex goggles on!

Lee Moon-Sae is one of the definitive Korean pop artists of the 1980’s and well into the 1990’s. It wold be hard to describe Korean pop music today without talking about this guy. He was also one of the few artists that successfully made the transition from individual, “homebrew” Korean pop into the “packaged idol” phenomenon that we see today, which occurred in the late 1990’s. He’s now a radio host and DJ.

This song holds special meaning for me; Big Bang remade this song a few decades later, and (you would know this if you read my Introduction – if you didn’t, go read it!) it was the start of my journey into the world of K-pop.

Lee Moon-Sae’s voice is definitely very unique – it has a soothing rhythm when the song gets slow, then picks up energy effortlessly as it transitions into the melody. I especially love the way his voice sounds at the 1:00 mark in the above video; the baritone chorus in the background harmonizes nicely with his soft, subtle, yet powerful voice.

Popular culture being what it is, the song definitely sounds a bit dated when you listen to it now; the slight overuse of the electric organ, as well as “big-band” style trumpets that lend a flair to parts of the song, tell you that this song is definitely a child of the 80’s.

What was the most surprising when I listened to this the first time was just how dramatically different it sounded from Big Bang’s remake. I know that this is a review of Lee Moon-Sae’s original, but it’s worthwhile to point out just exactly how much musical tastes have changed in the past 20 years.

Here’s Big Bang’s version. Hear the difference for yourself.

As awesome as Lee Moon-Sae’s original version is, I can’t help but feel a little sad at how it seems so dated. K-pop sure has come a long way. I prefer Big Bang’s version, myself.

But the slight datedness notwithstanding, this song is still a classic with a fantastic chorus that influenced Korean pop for the next generation. And for that, Lee Moon-Sae’s “Sunset Glow” gets:

4 out of 5 stars.

Thank you, Lee Moon-Sae.
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