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.
I always expect Taeyeon albums to be 100% ballads, and I’m always surprised by their diversity. I need to stop stereotyping, but I guess I’m so used to big-voiced female soloists in Korea taking a safer approach. Purpose is a varied work, both in mood and sound. And while there’s nothing on it that I’d necessarily call a big dance track, there’s definitely more verve and attitude than I thought I’d hear on such a personal, evocative album.
With this said, my personal highlight on Purpose is actually one of its most subdued tracks. Wine draws upon all of my favorite aspects of Taeyeon’s voice. She’s great when she goes powerful, but she’s unmatched when she gives a more nuanced performance. Wine’s chorus is beautifully delivered — light and ethereal before calming to a low, wavering end note. Though hushed throughout, the melody is one of the album’s strongest, boasting the same delicate charm as past hit 11:11 (which also happens to be a favorite of mine). Though this may be lost on K-pop’s younger fans, Wine reminds me of the kind of music (and melodies) I used to listen to during the late 90’s. There’s something very comforting and nostalgic about that, especially when paired with Taeyeon’s warm vocals.
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