Review

Song Review: Changmin (Max of TVXQ) – Chocolate

Most of SM Entertainment’s solo releases could be classified as such: ballad, ballad, rock ballad, piano ballad, retro ballad, etc. Given this, it was only natural for me to expect yet another ballad from TVXQ’s Changmin. After all, that’s already his sweet spot. But, when the teasers for Chocolate started dropping, my hope renewed. Then, I found out that the track was written by personal favorite Thomas Troelsen, with additional arrangement from Yoo Young-Jin. Yes, please! This is the same team who worked on Yunho’s excellent solo last year, as well as many TVXQ classics. But sadly, Chocolate doesn’t feel like a classic. It’s not bad, but it’s a weird little track that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be.

Changmin’s voice has always filled me with pathos. On one hand, he’s responsible for some of the most goosebump-inducing moments in K-pop. When he belts it out just right, he’s one of the most iconic performers of our generation. Yet, there are also times when his tone can come across as overly shrill. It’s a fine balance, and often depends on the arrangement of the song itself. Chocolate’s introduction utilizes this polarizing voice with aplomb. It’s vampy, it’s unusual, and it’s completely over-the-top. I would’ve loved to hear this brief bit of madness being repeated as Chocolate’s actual chorus. Alas, this wasn’t to be.

Instead, Chocolate unveils a much more minimalist series of hooks. The verses have a nice groove to them, mixing rhythmic melody with odd bits of spoken-word. The track’s centerpiece comes in the form of a robust pre-drop refrain. It’s here that the vocals steer just short of shrill, but the layering definitely helps. In comparison, the stuttering hook that follows is a bit of a buzzkill. It’s absolute fine – and even a little funky – but doesn’t really draw on Changmin’s strengths in the way that Chocolate’s engaging opener does. Still, I always appreciate a good left turn, and I’m happy that this long-awaited mini album is spearheaded by a dance track.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8

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13 thoughts on “Song Review: Changmin (Max of TVXQ) – Chocolate

  1. Greatly disagree. The only decent thing about this is the pre-chorus. The instrumentation is kinda cool but I really dislike the vocal lines, except for the pre-chorus.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I loved it! this first time. Then I liked it. Then, well, there are parts here and parts there. It has its moments.
    The video is the latest example of how Changmin can get his body to move like that. He is a wiggly string bean with long long limbs that all of a sudden will snap too and go sharp, and a moment later be all smooth move all melty again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I barely can understand what kind of marketing and artistic strategies SM Entertainment conceived for this 2020.
    I often commented last years’ productions (in particular my once-beloved-EXO’s latest releases) saying that BTS’ unexpected global popularity seems to have scattered all the plans for their male groups, and Chocolate is nothing but the ultimate proof of this. It could easily be a b-side track by NCT 127 (well, probably the whole ep could easily be a backup ep by NCT 127), with that annoying touch of “push the RANDOMIZE SEQUENCE button and let’s see what happens” previously heard in Cherry Pop, Simon Says, Black on Black, Kick It and the terrible NCT-esque Obsession.
    Buh: Suho’s solo ep is the quintessence of nothing, and Changmin himself follows the path.
    With SHINee temporarily on hiatus, Super Junior always walking the line between being forever young and being born old, EXO almost blown away by BTS (not to mention the solo career by Lay), NCT that still haven’t found what they’re looking for and SUPER-M uselessly over-promoted, maybe things are going to be not that sharp for the agency in the months to come if these are the teasers.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I like many parts of the songs, it got some cool sounds and changmin high note is refreshing.

    ……I have problems with how it’s strung together tho. Could have used groovier chorus that doesn’t only involve repeating the title too.

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  5. It’s weird/experimental enough to capture my attention. And the song does showcase his vocal skills. I cannot think of anyone who could do this song justice. Piano, nevertheless, should have been the title track.

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  6. This is the first TVXQ solo release I’ve heard and the best I can say is that its not terrible. It starts off amazing, the intro is so goofy and fun, the verses are nice and the pre-chorus is out of this world. Though that chorus is so ugly it just ruins the song for me. And in the second verse his last two lines before the pre-chorus are horrendous. Overall its a pretty bad song with an amazing pre-chorus, intro, ans vocals.

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    • Its quirkiness has grown on me. During times like these there’s a lot to appreciate and its easier to focus on the good.

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    • Yunho had a solo around this time last year. Follow on me like a robot, follow on me like a robot. It had a certain funk swagger to it that was nice. The b-side “Swing” on the same album was also good, with a bass beat like old school Madonna “Burning up”.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Today I’m listening to changmin’s mini album but I’ll listen to Yunho’s right after. I remember him getting quite favorable reviews by nick so I have decent expectations for the album.

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        • Changmin’s album is growing on me, but Yunho’s is much more my style. It’s really all-killer, no-filler.

          With that said, both released great Japanese solo albums before they enlisted. If you haven’t heard them, I suggest seeking them out if you can find them!

          Highlights:

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