Most of the time, a kpop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-side tracks deserve recognition, too. In the singles-oriented world of kpop, I wanted to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Listening to the preview clips of Taeyeon’s new album, I braced myself for a collection of treacly pop ballads that showcased her voice at the expense of any sort of musical exploration. I’m happy to be proven wrong, as the album contains enough surprises to keep it interesting throughout. Chief among them is the excellent Time Lapse, which may just be the best solo track she’s given us yet.
The song was written by Kim Jong-wan, the frontman and mastermind behind alternative rock group Nell. He’s also responsible for composing most of Infinite leader Sungkyu’s solo material. Jong-wan has an instantly recognizable sound — sweeping and lush and hyper-emotional. I wish he’d produce for more idol artists. The melding of his vision with the populist nature of idol music makes for a thrilling combination. Unsurprisingly, he and Taeyeon are a brilliant match. Her voice has rarely sounded as textured as it does on Time Lapse, at times breathy, at times powerful — and for the brief climax at the 2:44 mark, utterly unforgettable. The song’s dense, ever-changing instrumental certainly helps, morphing from ethereal acoustic balladry to propulsive, orchestral dance bliss in the space of seconds. It’s an ambitious piece of music, but doesn’t sacrifice one bit of emotion or pop smarts in the process. More of this, please!