Review

Song Review: U-Know (Yunho of TVXQ) – Follow

My anticipation for TVXQ’s long-awaited comeback was through the roof last year, but things didn’t go exactly as I’d hoped. Yes, the duo delivered two very solid albums, but each lacked the classic SM Performance sound that I’ve long associated with their music. Luckily, Yunho is making up for that with his (even longer-awaited) solo Korean debut. Follow brings together composers Yoo Young-Jin and Thomas Troelsen, each responsible for crafting so much of TVXQ’s epic singles run.

Up until now, this was a reunion that existed only in my wildest dreams. The one and only time Troelsen and Young-Jin had collaborated in the past was on EXO’s classic History — and that was over seven years ago! Given this, my sky-high standards for Follow are a little unfair. No song could be as perfect as the imaginary hit that exists in my head. But, by bringing together these luminaries once again, Follow continues the resurgence of a classic SM sound that began with last month’s Superhuman. It feels like a long-lost TVXQ single, filtered through Yunho’s dominant charisma.

From what I know, Yunho and I share a lot of musical influences. His past solo work has leaned heavily on the funk-pop style of Michael Jackson, and Follow is no different. The song hits hard right from the start, laying down its thumping electro groove with confidence. After a series of barely audible ad-libs, the first verse offers a rhythmic structure that nimbly skirts along the comparatively straightforward beat. Yunho is a master at this kind of performance, lending a dancer’s touch to the melody. I’m not a huge fan of the compressed vocal layering during Follow‘s chorus (a critique I never thought I’d level at a Yoo Young-Jin track!), but the hook is otherwise strong. Follow is at its best when it goes big. The commanding bridge echoes the iconic work of both composers, upping the key and thickening the layers of sound. This is what I’ve wanted from TVXQ for years, and I hope we get to hear more of it soon.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 10
 RATING 8.75

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11 thoughts on “Song Review: U-Know (Yunho of TVXQ) – Follow

  1. i was waiting for this review.
    God i love this song so much? so you are telling me the team that produced HISTORY worked on this… no wonder it reminded me of old TVXQ/EXO’s MAMA era sound.. specially with the bassline.

    It seems that 2019 is the year SM is going the kpop throwback route with their music, while it has a risk of sounding boring and dated… (like BoA’s FEEDBACK) it certainly worked for Yunho, it fits him so well and sounds refreshing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mamacita? No, not much at all. There is no blaring real brass, no marked heavy first beat throughout, it doesn’t have the patented zany humor of SuJu, no latin beat, no curious lines in quasi-English (Just close your lips, shut your tongue). The character of the hook is quiet different – very low hypnotic “follow me like a robot” versus everyone all together “hey mamacita nega ay yay ya ya ya”.

      This one is more urbane, more synthesized, more funk.

      Like

  2. I can’t believe this is technically the first solo song by Yunho.

    The song is hot, it grows and builds until it narrows down to low descending bass drone “follow me like a robot”. I love it.
    As a bonus, the song is sung through, so it can be a holistic performance on the stage. I think at this point TVXQ can pick songs very well that they know they will perform many times live in an arena.

    Youtube helpfully autoplayed “Swing” b-side of YunHo with BoA right afterwards, and that song is another funk hot one.

    Liked by 1 person

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