With Soompi being around since 1998, do we have any Soompiers out there who remember dial-up internet and having to listen to this to get to spazz out on that strange thing called the Internet with other fangirls and fanboys?  

If so, then you probably grew up with H.O.T., Sechs Kies, S.E.S., Fin.K.L, Baby V.O.X., Chakra, Bijou, Shinhwa, Fly To The Sky, Uptown, and 1TYM.  You probably remember Yoo Seung Jun being the original hot bad boy rapper of K-Pop; he was also a Korean-American with rock-hard abs who left South Korea in ignominy (Jay Park wasn’t the first).  You probably also remember when Uhm Jung Hwa was the sexiest solo singer on the scene (Hyori had to wait her turn).  By the way, remember when CG was new and lightning bolts were cool, not cheesy?    

With that in mind, “Flashback Friday” will feature artists from days of yore when K-Pop wasn’t so polished but still just as shiny.  Today’s Flashback Friday will be featuring Park Hwayobi.        

Park Hwayobi is known as South Korea’s “Queen of R&B.”  But I have to ask.  Is Mariah Carey the queen of R&B?  Is Whitney Houston the queen of R&B?  No.  These individuals are singers whose voices are so distinctive, so rare, so emotive, that have such a hair-raising quality, that they transcend borders and genres.  

Mariah is Mariah.  No last name necessary. 

Whitney is Whitney.  No last name necessary. 

Hwayobi is Hwayobi.  No last name necessary. 

Hwayobi has or had one of the best voices, if not the best voice, in the Korean music industry.  Hwayobi debuted with her first album “My All” in 2000.  After her debut, Hwayobi released six more regular albums which include: second album “Nineteen Plus One” in 2001, third album “Because I Love You” in 2002, fourth album “Soul Saver” in 2004, fifth album “Five °” in 2006, sixth album “Sunshine” in 2008, and seventh album “Hwayobi” in 2010. 

In addition to releasing five (not-so) mini albums which include “This Is Love” in 2009, “Summer” in 2009, “Girl Like Me” in 2010, “reborn” in 2011, and “I Am” in 2012, the diminutive singer also found time to release more singles than one could shake a stick at and contribute songs for the “I Believe in Love” OST in 2011, “Miss Ripley” OST in 2011, “Korean Peninsula” OST in 2012, “My Love, Madame Butterfly” OST in 2012, and “When A Man Loves” OST in 2013.  

Having said all that, I want to talk about her covers.  The first time I heard Hwayobi sing was on the variety show “X-Man” with her cover of “Run To You.”  Hwayobi amused audiences with her eccentric sense of humor and easy-going ways.  I wanted to hear more and see more of the talented singer, and, apparently, so did the public.  Hwayobi participated in a television marriage with Fly To The Sky member Hwanhee on “We Got Married” and sang an amazing cover of “Loving You” in the cold, in the dark, and in the woods as a gesture to her television husband.  But, since then, sadly, her public appearances have trickled down to a rare appearance every once in a while.          

Get ready to be wowed. 

Hwayobi – Run To You (on “X-Man”) [go to the 4.14 mark]

Hwayobi  – Loving You (on “We Got Married) [go to the 2:20 mark] 

Hwayobi – Vision of Love 

Hwayobi – Reflection 

It starts off slow.  Just wait for it.  

Hwayobi – Open Arms 

Hwayobi – If I Ain’t Got You