Friday, September 8th, 2017

Taeyang – Wake Me Up

And a song to put a big bang in your weekend!


Maxwell Cavaseno: Orgiastically boneheaded, the more time continues with Taeyang, the more his singles slim down further and further on ideas, and more become enraptured with the simple pleasure of Taeyang enjoying himself. The production is a bunch of melodramatic beats that imply a grandiose sense of self while barely being anything, the sound a Zayn album where the kid wasn’t so overwrought with trying to prove himself (and flopping hideously), and it culminates in a trite superfizz of electric pixelation. Unlike the eternal eagerness to please of groupmate GD, Taeyang is happy to laze about, and as a result the record feels about as half-baked as a dream murmur.

Tim de Reuse: Not so much structurally lopsided as completely sideways, leaning all weight on its ability to deliver a satisfying, sudden crush of a drop; unfortunately, said drop is rather tepid. Though the melodies are sufficiently anthemic and the synths sufficiently sparkly, something in the sound design is undeniably restrained; the bass is a low hum, the lead has had its distortion worked over with a power sander, and the drums might as well have politely moved to another room. There’s little in there that threatens to overwhelm or surprise on first listen, and the clear intent to bedazzle makes it all the more disappointing that it doesn’t. Mixed uncomfortably loud over it all, Taeyang belts out his performance, oblivious to the shy, silky choir underneath him.

Alfred Soto: The echo, sudden drops, and passive character suggest an acquaintance with The Weeknd’s anomic moments, but the vocal is warmer, the falsetto suppler. We’re lucky we don’t understand most of the lyrics.

Thomas Inskeep: Too slow and too pneumatic. 

Nortey Dowuona: A 2012 pop song, and those were bad pop song years. Taeyang’s singing is too clumsy and wide for such a narrow bassline and stuffy drum & synth programming.

Adaora Ede: Defending the overarching hokeyness of an EDM song titled “Wake Me Up” in an era in which we should be greater and enjoy subtlely in the deeper meaning of pop music is difficult. Yes, we as a society may have forgotten about the golden age poptronic rock, like a notification for a bad memory on Facebook. And yeah, Taeyang’s verses might reach the rising action and then the falling action too awkwardly for this to be a true ballad or even a cellphones-in-the-air anthem. I’m very into the drone-y and shoe gaze influence found in the flickers of ambience in the intro and the muted emotion, but the lack of the trademark loudmouthed swag-cum-noise-cum-appropriation expected from the YG Guys makes me feel like I’m listening to one of those “3D audio in an empty room listen with headphones” edit videos instead of an actual song. Oh, wait….this wasn’t produced by Teddy? Carry on.

Alex Clifton: “Wake Me Up” is dreamy and droppy and much better than I expected. Taeyang, like his bandmate G-Dragon, drips sex appeal, but this song is calculated to show off a softer side after hotter hits like “Ringa Linga.” Taeyang sells it well and lifts a song that could’ve been far more ordinary into a more pleasant number, buoyed by a strong vocal performance. Like all good dreams, it eventually comes to an end, but it’s one I really wouldn’t mind replaying.

Ramzi Awn: A solid, underscored single that straddles the line between ballad and dance pop well, “Wake Me Up” references The Chainsmokers’ “Wake Up Alone” ft. Jhene with due respect.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The pre-chorus may recall “Empty” but this is an unmistakable Taeyang ballad in all its self-serious, comfortably indulgent glory. Which is why the chorus is like if “Sogyeokdong” had traded in all its subtlety for brashness, its Chvrches for stadiums. The synth washes and thick reverb help paint this as the love drunk confession it is, but Taeyang’s vocalizing doesn’t always transcend the song’s lyrics. I’d concede that he sounds like he’s in a dream state when singing “Don’t wake me up, up, up,” but that’s not enough for what this song is aiming for. I want him to transfer his experience of ineffable ecstasy, to evoke images of late night intimacy filtered with heavy Gaussian blur. What we get instead is something a bit more muted, more functional. Thankfully, most of “Wake Me Up” is functional enough to make it feel blissful.

Stephen Eisermann: The drop, the sexy voice, the synth – everything about this is magical. Taeyang has a voice with R&B-leanings and it serves him well on this track. It’s a real shame US stations won’t play foreign songs because this is a bonafide hit.

Reader average: [4.66] (3 votes)

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8 Responses to “Taeyang – Wake Me Up”

  1. I see TSJ has made the correct decision in giving this a higher average score than G-Dragon’s “Untitled, 2014”. Granted, I’d give both songs like a [2] on a more cynical/less forgiving day, but this is surely a notch above G-Dragon’s masturbatory “Eyes, Nose, Lips” one-upmanship.

  2. Anyone else particularly irked by people saying things like “We’re lucky we don’t understand most of the lyrics” when talking about songs sung in languages they don’t understand? Don’t you, like, feel a desire to fully understand a song and what it means, especially when it’s one you like? And this is a K-pop song, where translated lyrics are readily searchable online! I mean I suppose I understand where Soto is coming from but that line of thought has been used in so much writing about K-pop since the beginning of the decade that I can’t help but be all ‘nooooooooo :(‘

  3. Why would you feel a desire to do something impossible?

    I mean, okay, I know the answer to that, I was young once and so on, but why would you rag on someone for not feeling that desire?

  4. Ok that’s fair; to expect others to conform to a certain way of engaging with art is myopic and born of my ego despite any sincerity that may be behind it. Even then, I’m still disheartened by comments that touch on how songs are better because we can’t understand what the singers are saying. (Not entirely related but it reminds me of people who have talked about Young Thug in a similar fashion).

  5. Joshua– I hear this a lot on the “stan” side of the … community, I guess, is the best word? That people basically listen to Kpop because they don’t like corny love songs/overly sexual stuff in English. Honestly if I really enjoy a song I’ll do my best to look up the lyrics (and a lot of singles are subbed now– excluding the really loose ones on PSY’s latest singles, everything on 1theK is subbed, and I think most of the time Big Hit and JYP sub their singles too…)

    I mean, I’m not Korean, and even if I did my best to study it I don’t think I’d get through some of the more idiomatic parts of the language (and often that kind of stuff shows up in songs right, where you can’t really get across what the meaning is with something super literal in translate). But if I do like a song in Korean enough I’ll usually take a gander at a translation or two, and sometimes that’s enough to make me back away from it a bit. (War of Hormone by BTS and Monster by EXO are two decent examples). And then you have something like Spring Day by BTS or much more recently Babe by Hyuna which to me are made a thousand times more compelling by their lyrics.

    And then again, I like corny love songs. And Jay Park sings his corny overly sexual stuff in English, anyways.

  6. I am someone who prefers listening to international pop songs exactly because I do not comprehend the lyrics. Whenever I pop back in to check on English pop, I end up cringing at lyrics way more than I can enjoy the music itself, because writing lyrics is super hard (from meaning to phonaesthetic to matching the arrangement/melody). For example, Gaga/Beyonce’s Telephone is unbearable. I listen to a mashup that slots Big Bang vocals over the arrangement instead.
    I mean, I’ve already osmosed enough Japanese over the years that Kpop groups tripping over the language sticks out like a sore thumb and can sour those songs for me.
    But when you don’t comprehend meaning, vocals become nought but another instrument, language just a means of accessing certain timbres. Art can be pleasurable for things wholly unrelated to the original artist’s intention or meaning. And for pop music, better to experience that song in a way that emphasizes the feeling they’re trying to convey, than to get derailed in my reception of it because of the words.

    As evidenced by all of the engrish in international songs, people overseas feel the same way.
    (The low priority most people put on lyrical meaning is also evidenced by all of the families happily grooving to Blurred Lines at a festival I went to the other day.)

  7. Okay, we’re going to need a better example.

  8. I agree with everything AG said (except I like “Telephone”)

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