Listening to Taeyeon’s newest EP “Why” makes me both happy and sad. Happy because:
- It’s Taeyeon and this sly fox deserves a solo breakthrough for the simplest reason – she’s talented enough to do so. Notice how the unnecessary and groundless hate directed towards her (on different issues) always falters when she starts to sing. That alone says a lot about her capabilities as a singer and as a pop star. Her solo is one that has been long overdue and regardless of controversy, it will always be welcomed by the general listening public (at least in Korea).
- After a few spins, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a great album. It’s very Girls’ Generation in nature which means that it is basically a concoction of different sounds. SNSD’s albums always tend to have a lot of variety by the time “The Boys” came in. Listeners would be baffled as to why there is a “Vitamin” or “My J” to a “Trick” or “Oscar” but when you think about it, SNSD has always been able to jump from one concept to another with ease and that is what they always wanted to show in their albums which is a pretty amazing statement about the group. Taeyeon is going for this route as well especially if you place it beside last year’s “I” EP.
On the other hand, “Why” has reminded me of some sad realities, part of which are related to me being a huge S<3NE by heart. Kill me but I still believe in #ot9 and how Sica is still in touch with other members and how they’ll have one big reunion somewhere in the future. Anyway…
- Sad because I still slightly prefer the whole “I” EP than this one. I may be alone on this opinion but for me, for an idol solo release to be good, it must steer away from the concept that their group is associated with. With “I”, Taeyeon was going for the adult-contemporary/pseudo-soft rock genre which was unique among solo releases and it fitted like a glove to her. I kinda wanted her to pursue that path but upon realizing how the whole promo cycle for “Why” went, I had a sadder realization and it is that…
- Taeyeon will be the only SNSD act that SM will be supporting in the future. The expansion of her sound and the success that came with it is clearly a platform towards a solo career that will be backed by SM for a long time. Among the multitude of other SM acts that were touted as the second BoA, Taeyeon’s clearly the one who’s in the forefront (watch a goddamn live of Why and see for yourself). This means that if probably SNSD curtain calls by 2017, some of them may dissolve in the background, be a stockholder (Sunny lol) or transfer companies except Taeyeon. Well, the thought of SNSD’s wall finally crumbling is inevitable and it is better to be rational as early as now and accept that it will happen. This is just my forecast though, I maybe right or wrong but whatevs.
So being the rational S<3NE that I’m trying to be, I’ll just dwell on the “Why” and rank all the tracks from my least favorite to the most.
- Fashion – I’m starting to think that SM’s gonna have an obligatory deep/tropical house-inspired track for all their albums. It was amazing when SHINee and f(x) pushed the genre for their comeback singles, and I loved Luna’s single but when it was regurgitated on a Station track, in Exo’s latest album, the NCT127 EP and now here, it is starting to get a little boring. So even though I love that genre, it’s a meh for me.
- Why – I didn’t like Why for the reason that I wanted Taeyeon to expand on the sound that she started with I but after realizing that she’s slated for a long-term career outside SNSD, I’ve grown to like it. Knowing that Why is a bouncy summer EDM/RnB anthem, I was hesitant as to how will Taeyeon deliver performance-wise because she slightly lacks on that area (SHY rules this area) but you can see that’s she’s giving extra effort like how she rolled her torso in the first formal verse of I Got a Boy. Other than that, I don’t see anything special with Why except that it’s a great summer single.
- Up and Down (feat. Specialist HY) – I ranked this a little better than Why because the almighty, all-natural Hyoyeon is here. Lots of netizens are gushing over HY here but her rapping here isn’t that mind-blowing for me. She carries it with her personality though so I guess it’s okay. At its best, Up and Down is a pretty solid filler material.
- Night – is a great closer for the album. It’s a laidback RnB track that’s perfect for both a night drive and some sekshi time. It’s as perfect as how Exo’s XOXO closed with My Lady and how I Got a Boy closed with Romantic St. It also reminds me of the sexy RnB tracks from NU’EST’s overlooked album this year, Q is.
- Good Thing – The other LDN Noise production in the album, I liked this better than Why because it has a more interesting production. It has some dubstep in it, some organs, some synths, some trap, and that awesome Brave Brothers trumpet/horn instrumental. I don’t know how to call it because of how busy it sounds so perhaps I can say that it’s a solid K-Pop track (if you get what I mean).
- Starlight (featuring DEAN) – I loved this track on first listen because it’s a fine RnB track with the right amount of nostalgia and being in the loop. Starlight is great enough to be a lead track because of the collaboration and the fact that Koreans eat this kind of music up. Plus, the chemistry between the two amazingly works for me and they should date and make Baekhyun gag lol kidding.
Still a better story than Taeyeon-Baekhyun
- Hands on Me – When the new EP was teased, Hands on Me was described as “a new style of pop”. Considering how pointless and confusing these SM descriptions are, I’ve always looked forward to this track and thankfully, I was not disappointed. Hands on Me is a K-Poppified urban pop track with some RnB influences and the best thing about this is that an offbeat piano loop plays on the background which made the song more interesting. It took me some time to determine what this song reminds me, until I remembered “The Way That I Love You” – Ashanti’s underrated 2008 jam. The urban/RnB sound is no surprise because it was helmed by The Underdogs who worked on Soshi’s Mr. Mr as well as other neat urban/RnB tracks from the West.
Do you agree with my ranking? If you feel like disagreeing, drop a comment and we’ll see. Thanks!