By sheer number of releases alone, SM Entertainment has had quite a year. But despite being responsible for a handful of 2016’s best tracks, they’ve also fallen into a bit of a rut when it comes to repeating sounds. Their focus on international house beats worked brilliantly on Shinee’s View last year, but I can’t help but think that the formula is beginning to wear a little thin. Though a fine song in its own right, Taeyeon’s Why may just be the track that pounds the final nail in the coffin.
In short, I request no more of this sound please, SM. I get that it’s on trend and popular around the world, but I don’t think k-pop should sound like American or British music. It’s k-pop for a reason. It pushes forward on its own sense of impeccable style. If I wanted to hear this brand of tropical house, I’d listen to countless other tracks in this trendy genre. If they’re going to push it on Taeyeon, they need to bring something different to the music. Why feels incredibly anonymous. It could have been sung by any female vocalist and come out roughly the same. This isn’t to take away from Taeyeon as a performer, but the material she’s given here is so restrictive that it doesn’t allow for a shred of individuality to poke through.
It’s also not much of a song. Stripped of its production trappings and performed acapella or acoustically, I feel like this would become increasingly apparent. The hook is simple and melodically repetitive, but manages to gain momentum when paired with its more exciting instrumental. The verses pass by without much fanfare, leading into a bridge that’s sonically interesting and harmonically beautiful, but somewhat stagnant. This is a lot of complaining, but reliable SM guarantees that the entire thing is presented in a glossy, well-produced package. It may be derivative to the very last note, but it’s polished, professional and paired with a beautifully shot music video. I’m sure many will adore it, but I am personally ready for something very new and very original.