It’s been over a year since Taeyeon released her impressive full length album, My Voice, which went a long way towards fostering her versatility as a performer. With Something New, she continues to experiment with genre and prove why she’s one of SM Entertainment’s most valuable assets.
From the outset, Something New is a different beast. Opening with distorted layers of vocal harmony that feel more indie-pop than k-pop, the song builds anticipation before launching into its 90’s r&b groove. “90’s r&b” has been SM’s descriptor of choice lately, but this time it’s actually apt. I came of age during the mid-to-late 90’s hip-hop boom, so I know my way around this type of r&b beat. Something New’s production is so authentically of that era that I half-expected to hear Mariah Carey or Janet Jackson rather than Taeyeon.
Thankfully, Taeyeon is more than a match for this style. She’s a chameleon-like vocalist, and provides a suitably subdued performance that favors vibe over bombast. The same could be said about the song as a whole. From its simple, sing-along chorus its tentative verses, Something New is laid-back from start to finish. It’s a track driven by rhythm, and could use a few defining moments to give it added oomph. The warm vocal layering on the chorus comes close, effortlessly gliding over brassy accents and touches of orchestration. I’m not a fan of the “and now, the breakdown” producer tag that introduces the bridge, as it feels more disruptive than exciting. But then again, I’ve never liked producer tags. Above all, it’s exciting to hear k-pop tackle something a bit different. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of nostalgia — especially when it’s delivered with such polish.