Few k-pop stars bring the drama the way Shinee’s Taemin does. I’ve been a massive fan of his solo material from the start, so hearing that he would release a Japanese mini album later this month was a very nice surprise. I’d be lying if I said the ballad-meets-dubstep nature of Sayonara Hitori (さよならひとり) is what I’m looking for in a Taemin release, but that doesn’t stop it from being a strong j-pop debut.
Hitori is all about going overboard. While it’s not the dance track that I would have preferred, it’s certainly not a typical ballad either. The song kicks off with a gorgeous, sparsely accompanied verse of theatrical balladry before crashing into its first dubstep breakdown. Hitori would have been smarter to mix this instrumental break with more symphonic elements. As it stands, the dubstep portions are very typical of the genre, offering a sense of aggressive catharsis without pushing the style forward or doing anything particularly interesting with it. This point becomes moot the second time around, where Taemin’s vocals join the mix and add that necessary drama. Still, I can’t help but imagine how perfect the song could have been with a slightly different arrangement.
But luckily, Hitori is more than the sum of its parts. The quieter sections surrounding the hook are gorgeously performed and produced. Taken alongside the jaw-droppingly beautiful music video, the track feels like a big moment. It’s undoubtedly more of a performance piece than an actual song, but Taemin’s one hell of a performer. Like Drip Drop earlier this year, the song’s serpentine structure gives his choreography plenty to work with. He’s one of the few artists who can get away with releasing a track like this and actually pull it off. I can’t wait to hear what else is on the forthcoming album.