Once again, I’m super late to the party and am kicking myself for only getting around to writing about Taemin’s latest single now. I promise I didn’t intentionally post this right after his enlistment date (cry); it’s entirely due to my busy schedule and poor time management skills. But I’ll admit it: I’m slightly in denial that we won’t get new music from him for over A YEAR AND A HALF. I feel like his solo music has been such a constant presence in the five years since I’ve become a K-pop fan, and that presence will be sorely missed (cry some more). But if there’s any bright spot to this, it’s that Taemin was able to give us one more great song – and album – before he left.
I could immediately tell “Advice” was a Taemin music video because it made such a strong visual impression right off the bat. The production design is quite bold and edgy, from the set pieces to the color scheme. Per usual, Taemin’s styling is pretty daring as well. (I’m genuinely convinced the man can pull off anything.) And there are many images and moments that leave lasting memories, like the opening scene where he’s playing the piano or the parts where he’s squeezed uncomfortably into a tiny room. Sometimes, it feels like I’m watching a contemporary art installation rather than a pop music video. Some of Taemin’s other videos have had similar aesthetics, so “Advice” definitely reminds me of his particular style.
But while “Advice” looks similar to some of Taemin’s previous work, it sounds rather different from his other singles – and that’s a really pleasant surprise. When I think of his signature sound, I think of songs like “Danger,” “Move,” and “Criminal” – all three of which have a very smooth and sensual quality to them. “Advice” is almost the opposite, and it’s pretty sharp and staccato. It’s also accompanied by some classical-sounding piano in the arrangement, which I think provides a really nice contrast. And it helps build a strong sense of panic and frenzy that’s excellently mirrored in the music video. Taemin plays around with his voice a lot during this song, talk-singing during his verses and doing the chorus in a higher register or even falsetto. While I do miss hearing his natural singing voice (because I find it so lovely), I do find all of the various effects very interesting. And I appreciate that he’s really going for something new and different.
Of course, we can’t talk about a Taemin comeback without discussing choreography. There are so many great dancers in K-pop, but I’ve always personally believed that he’s one of the best. His movements are just so natural yet precise, and he can make even the simplest of steps look interesting and important. Dancing is truly one of his natural talents. The choreography for “Advice” puts all of his skills on full display – the movements are sharp and sometimes even jerky, but he still moves through them so seamlessly and fluidly. Definitely another iconic dance to add to his repertoire.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
I’ve always enjoyed Taemin’s music, but I feel like I’ve been noticing him a lot more lately. Maybe it’s because he gained a new wave of fans thanks to SuperM, or maybe it’s because I got way more into SHINee with their two superb comebacks this year. But in any case, I’ve come to really appreciate Taemin as a solo singer. While I think I ultimately prefer some of his more “iconic” songs like “Move,” I do think that “Advice” shows a new side to him and has a lot to offer. Plus I think it’s great that he used his last comeback to venture outside of his comfort zone and make a strong impact. It’s a shame we won’t see or hear much from him for some time, but “Advice” has definitely succeeded in making a lasting impression that will stay with me for a while.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Music video and featured image belong to SM Entertainment.