Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Ever since 2017’s Move, Taemin’s solo material has largely followed the same template. It sets up a sultry groove, throws his sultry vocals on top, and pretty much stays sultry all the way through. I like these songs very much, but they never modulate enough for me to love them. His new Japanese album mostly follows suit, and is very strong in its own right, but one song stuck out as more dynamic than the rest.
Exclusive provides just the right amount of variation to build on Taemin’s signature sound in a compelling way. It begins like most of his songs do, with a sticky, atmospheric groove designed for him to sink his teeth into. I love the funky background vocals that answer each phrase during the opening verse– so much so that I wish they repeated later on. From here, Exclusive coasts into an airy hook that offers great contrast with the darker instrumental. It’s an instantly catchy refrain, subtle but potent, and underlined by gorgeous 80’s synths. The track then moves on to a killer instrumental break, aggressive and textured. It’s the perfect fissure within an otherwise tightly-wound arrangement. Listen to it with good speakers and it just pulls you by the collar and roughs you up in the best way. I love when songs do that.
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