The King of K-pop is back.
South Korean singer Rain, whose real name is Jung Ji Hoon, made his comeback by releasing his sixth album last Thursday, along with music videos for his two title songs 30 Sexy and La Song.
The 31-year-old's first album in four years, Rain Effect was highly anticipated by K-pop fans and critics alike, as it marked his return to showbiz following his discharge from mandatory military service last July.
However, despite all the hype, Rain Effects is quite the dampener.
In Korea, music charts such as Naver, Daum, Melon and Gaon give a strong indication of how well a song is doing by factoring in physical and digital sales of albums and singles.
Rain's title song 30 Sexy currently ranks 12th on Naver and 10th on Daum, while the other title track La Song ranks 16th on Melon.
In contrast, during the peak of his popularity from 2004 to 2008, his songs had consistently topped music charts.
On YouTube, the music videos for 30 Sexy and La Song have garnered over 660,000 and 590,000 views respectively.
The numbers pale in comparison to popular K-pop boy band TVXQ's new music video Something, which was released on the same day and has attracted more than 2.2 million hits to date.
The lacklustre response to his comeback could be due to his plummeting popularity in Asia recently, especially in his hometown Korea.
Rain's popularity took a nosedive last year when he was accused of abusing his celebrity privileges while serving his military service.
The star snuck out to meet his actress- girlfriend Kim Tae Hee and took more days of leave as compared to the other recruits.
He was also caught using his cellphone and drinking alcohol, a violation of on-duty military rules.
As a form of punishment, he was sentenced to seven days of confinement in camp.
During a recent interview with Korean reporters, Rain said: "I feel that the media circus surrounding me was unfair. My heart is worn to tatters, but this is the time for a new start."
And it seems like Rain is indeed ready to start afresh.
Besides a new album, the chiselled star released a reality video also called Rain Effect in mid-December, showing his fans another facet of his life.
The reality video depicts a more relatable Rain, one who chases after his dog, and attempts to change into his pants without being in full view of the camera.
Mr Shin Chun Ji, the video's producer, said: "Viewers seem to be curious about Rain's glamorous title as a world star and his hidden normal lifestyle. Rain will take viewers deeper into his private life, so please look forward to it."
Rain, who had appeared in Hollywood films Ninja Assassin (2009) and Speed Racer (2008), will star in new Hollywood action thriller The Prince, alongside actors Bruce Willis and John Cusack.
Local fans of Rain are excited about his return to showbiz but some have expressed disappointment in his new album.
Human resource executive Chloe Tan, 35, who is flying to Korea to support Rain's appearances in music programmes this weekend, said: "Rain is probably trying to reinvent himself, but I prefer his older songs which were more mainstream. However, I'll still support him regardless of whether I like his new album."
Operations manager Mei Loh, who has been supporting Rain for the past decade, said: "I prefer his old albums. He used a lot of falsetto in his new songs but I like his original voice better. I think he is trying something new, he should stick to a formula that worked for him in the past."
The 41-year-old added: "Maybe his songs will pick up steam and gain more popularity when he performs them live on the music shows this weekend."
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