Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Taeyeon ft. Verbal Jint – I

Speaking of Girls’ Generation…


Thomas Inskeep: Taeyeon goes solo from Girls Generation and makes a record that sounds more like modern rock than K-pop. With “I”‘s martial-sounding snare backing him, Verbal Jint comes off akin to Eminem on “Lose Yourself,” while Taeyeon belts her ass off, but blessedly knows how to control her voice, rather than Mariah-ing all over the place. Lee Soo-man’s production smartly leaves lots of open space for the song to breathe.  

Micha Cavaseno: I suppose the big woaaaah-ooh’s, rock production and grandiose statement of I, as in the individual and not Taeyeon of SNSD has a lot of complex gravitas to it. But the shocking reality is just how trite the song itself is, but in that lies the problem, right? If Taeyeon wants to be taken seriously as more than just one of the nine members of a girl group, even if she was considered one of the leads by outsiders, then she has to make drastic changes to her career’s output. Thus her intention to make a name for herself and be her own person, and the drain of any buzzing and groove that would allow for enjoyment of the music for its own sake. A great deal of “I” is about validation, confirmation and deeming someone who’s already achieved a great deal by being recognized. Hard to believe that so much is on the line.

Jessica Doyle: SM has been giving group members solo chances for a while now — Zhou Mi, Taemin, Jonghyun, Amber, and that’s just since last summer — but generally the lead single is to reinforce the already-established brand, not expand it. Taeyeon (who’s on record as not liking a lot of SNSD’s hits) has done the brand-extension spin-off, and “I” is not that. She doesn’t have to dance! She doesn’t have to go for the long held high note to give the song supposed credibility. It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but it feels open and light — even without all the crane shots.

Madeleine Lee: Taeyeon getting a rock ballad for her solo single rather than a generic downtempo dramatic ballad is interesting. The song isn’t.

Iain Mew: Pop group members going for credible soft rock ballads on their solo outings, this is a model I understand. Mel C, Robbie Williams, Charlie Simpson… “I” still comes off peculiarly to me though. Partly it’s that outside of the genre-compressing Korean pop world it’s so unusual to hear a competent, dully inspirational rap fitted into such context. Mostly it’s that the song is so flimsy that there’s nothing to it to withstand all the buffing it’s given.

Jonathan Bogart: Earnest, uplifting narcissism is my least favorite look in pop; which certainly doesn’t make the legions who derive value from it wrong, it just makes them not me.

Megan Harrington: This is huge, sunny, life affirming, and heart-racing. It has production that could pass for The Matrix, it has snare rolls, it has reverbed guitar, it has a very Shifty Shellshock couple of bars airbrushed on top. There is little, if anything, that could be done to improve “I” because it’s already completely transformative and glorious. 

Will Adams: One of the first [10]s I gave writing for this site was to Younha’s “Run,” a song that I could not understand literally without Google Translate but didn’t need to. That song sounded like running-as-flying, so undeniable that language barriers could not hold it down. I have not experienced that same feeling until hearing “I.” Whether intended or not, “My life is a beauty” is a gorgeous rendering of an oft-invoked sentiment in pop music, but everything else in the song connotes its message perfectly. The sparkling guitars and fissured drums drive naturally toward release, aided by the upward chord progression. The structure spins a narrative of slowly finding assurance in oneself, beginning with Verbal Jint’s words of encouragement (as if she couldn’t do it alone at first), then building and building until Taeyeon takes full control of her surroundings. The lovely bow wrapping everything up is how the extended vowel in the chorus’ “sky/fly” becomes into the song’s title, the most singular invocation of the individual.

Reader average: [5.2] (5 votes)

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4 Responses to “Taeyeon ft. Verbal Jint – I”

  1. Megan is so on-point about this sounding like The Matrix and also this song being a [10]

  2. Shifty Shellshock tho, I am screaming

  3. This is as good a place as any to note that the year remains relatively uncontroversial — Kat Dahlia is still at #1 for controversy. New entries since the last update are Alan Jackson, Joanna Newsom, Samir & Viktor, and Taylor Swift. This is tied for #15.

  4. The hive mind at work