Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Z. Tao – T.A.O

We end today’s high scoring day with a song suggested by a reader! We aim to please…


Sonya Nicholson: Tao rediscovers his creative and personal freedoms after departing from Korean-Chinese boyband EXO, and I rediscover my first impression of EXO — they are boring — after Tao’s departure from EXO. He and I are both free from EXO: a win-win situation. Speaking of the home group, to my EXO-trained ears Tao’s English lines are quite sticky; and I don’t think many others are pursuing trap-inflected rap yet in Mandarin, although please correct me if I’m wrong. If T.A.O proves anything, it’s that mainland Chinese authorities have no intention of enforcing S. Korean contract law on mainland Chinese nationals who come home…. And that’s a good thing, because we were worried Tao would dye his hair black and quit eyeliner to blend into his new entertainment environment, but we needn’t have been. Anyway, as a first volley and statement of personal taste and intent, “T.A.O” is quite successful. Whether its creator’s sensibilities will deepen with time remains to be seen.

Iain Mew: I suspect I don’t have enough invested in the narrative of Tao and Exo to get the full effect from “T.A.O”, though I know enough to find SM Entertainment’s futile attempts to copyright block its video both entertaining and horrifying. No investment is necessary to love that chorus though, Tao pushing “wait a minute” and “no new friends” like attempts to stake ownership while the music warps and shatters into glittering shards around him.

Josh Winters: Total world domination tastes much sweeter when fueled by vengeance. Z. Tao could tear open the space-time continuum with those glassy arpeggiated ripples.

Thomas Inskeep: Some of the most marvelous production I’ve heard all year, from the debut solo single of ex-Exo rapper Z. Tao. His tongue is nimble, the track even moreso: there’s a figure in the chorus which almost sounds like a synthesized harp, or glockenspiel, and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in ages. 

Patrick St. Michel: Can’t give this anything less than [5] because of the perceived SM Entertainment regret, but Tao needs something a little less scatterbrained to make himself stand out.

Brad Shoup: Those harpish zips are so tactile it’s ridiculous. It’s like Z. Tao’s thumbing a metal flipbook with chainmail gloves. It’s the best pure sound I’ve heard in a long time. The rapped part is standard tuffness, but it’s absolutely transformed in this context.

Jessica Doyle: The first part of Final FantaZ had some good sequences, but also a lot of poorly explained plot twists, and tried to develop so many characters at once it was hard to tell who was the hero. Now we’ve got our main character, and damn if he doesn’t make Squall Leonhart look like Marcus Aurelius. In theory he has plenty of weapons to choose from — martial arts, Weibo sass, selcas with absurdly fluffy dogs — but right now the only slots for skill points are Ability to Switch Between Mandarin and English and Keen Sense of His Own Martyrdom. I don’t know how you get anything out of this if you haven’t already put in many many hours playing along, and even if you have, the result is dramatic stares and scarf-buckles and long stretches of nothing happening and unsubtle callbacks to previous battles and… oh, who am I kidding? I’m transfixed by this, and by this.

Reader average: [6.33] (12 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

10 Responses to “Z. Tao – T.A.O”

  1. i was totally not expecting tao to end up on the 2015 scoreboard! i thought my score would be on the high end, as a fan.

    the last 5 seconds of this are a [10], by the way.


    I was not expecting such a high score either! (And I’m curious what the average would’ve been if we’d had Maxwell, Moses, and Maddie on board.)

  3. That’s a very good question, lmao. ?n the high [5] to [6] range probably. But we bookended it, so that’s okay :)

  4. ALTHOUGH it’s also very possible the score would have gone up or stayed the same… note to self, try to avoid the boyband fan/teen fallacy that no one else likes or can appreciate your music.

  5. y’all know some of the boy band music that’s an [8] to me

  6. For the record I totally would’ve gone the way of Patrick, but honestly that cute one finger piano roll dubstep synth is what makes it a 5 and not a 4 in such a significant way.

    *winks and points to yall*


  8. Since that screams an invitation to play Guess Maddie’s Hypothetical Scores:

    that Teen Top song: 7
    27 as a whole: 6
    Daydream: 8
    Kontrol: 6
    The Answer: 5 (though it’s my personal favorite: “And I wish you beLOONNNNNGED to me”)
    Bad: 5
    Moonlight: x + 2, where x = the score for “Sonagi”
    Sweet Girl: 4, although that could be me projecting
    that one Bangtan Bomb where rapper and vocal lines cover each other’s parts on “I Need U” and Rap Monster tries to do Jimin’s high notes: 9

  9. … I am very surprised that this managed to make this into the 2015 favorites! I had to give this a [9] though. I restrained myself.

  10. Kontrol: 8-9, Daydream: 5, The Answer: 7. Bad is growing on me every day though not past a 6. Main vocal Suga is a 9 for hilarity.