Review

Song Review: Taemin – Idea

For me, Taemin’s Never Gonna Dance Again project has been an experience of contrasts. And when it comes to its title tracks, that’s been especially true. Criminal drew out everything I love most about Taemin’s music, and has quickly become my favorite solo single in his discography. In contrast, new release Idea (IDEA:理想) embraces the elements I like least about his work. And coming off the heels of Criminal, it’s a crushing disappointment.

Taemin is the consummate performer, and I love that about him. But sometimes, it feels like this aspect takes away from his actual music. Idea is so concerned with its performance that it forgets to harness an actual hook. And for an artist who thrives on rhythm and groove, the instrumental is surprisingly graceless. The track opens with a steady beat underlined with the kind of seesawing future bass synths I tend to dislike. It’s tense and high-energy, yet never has the chance to develop a sense of momentum.

Unfortunately, this arrangement collapses in a lumbering beat drop that feels recycled from so many boy group tracks over the past few years. I’m really tired of this particular sound. I guess it’s meant to come across as powerful and hard-hitting, but there’s no character to it. The producers just throw as much bass and distortion into the mix as they can without giving it a catchy or memorable arrangement. Making matters worse, Idea doesn’t really have a chorus. After a brief killing shot from agency-mate BoA, Taemin’s vocal stutters over the messy mix, echoing the lurching nature of the track. And while Criminal built to a stunning crescendo, Idea just kind of sputters out. It’s all sound and fury, without the timeless hooks that make his best work so transcendent.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25

22 thoughts on “Song Review: Taemin – Idea

      • .

        2020, would not recommend. Only the Devil goes down to Georgia these days.

        Perhaps it is or was a good thing that the state I currently call home said early and often not to expect any more posted vote counts until this week at the earliest, because last weekend the downtown was relatively quiet for once with no protests and no looting and no arrests. As if there is anything left to loot. That said, my husband was on his usual weekend morning cycle ride yesterday, and he said that the local gun shop had a line out the door and down the block. On a Sunday morning. Of course there was no 6ft apart in line, no social distancing, and few if any masks.

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  1. Yeah this album is really rushed and weird, this is the weirdest track I ever heard this year, even the Wendy feature sounds like nothing from the one who brought us drip drop and heart stop.

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  2. I see Taemin as a performer more than a singer, his style is not usually for me. That aside I have always understood why his songs are so beloved. After having my ears assaulted by that drop, I can also understand why this one is not.

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  3. I am a fan of future bass songs… I like the synths sue me. Because of that, I wasn’t bothered that much by the beginning even if I didn’t like it that much.

    That chorus though? Nah, that’s when the song lost me. I’m all for interesting production choices, but Drip Drop is interesting production, this is just some basic drop with heavy distortion. I can see why people would like it, but it’s definitely not for me unfortunately.

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  4. I was waiting to listen to this the moment it dropped. The start had me thinking, ‘maybe the chorus will save this’, and then the drop happened. All I could think was ‘oh no Taeminnie, not you too!’ At least we got some killer tracks from him this year. Waiting for the Shinee comeback!

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  5. I was down with the song until the edgy breakdown 40 seconds in. It definitely drags.

    When it comes to performance-oriented songs (the dance is prioritized over the singing), the soundscape created by the track needs to make up for loss of melodic heft in the vocals. “Drip Drop” and Seventeen’s “13 Month Dance (Lilili Yabbay)” do this well. “Idea” does not.

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  6. For me this song and while album was good. I think the whole point of the song was the fact that Taemin doesn’t do music like this. He said himself that never going to dance again was supposed to be him not going to dance or be like he was again. Almost like a rebirth, or a fresh start. So for me I feel like this song did just that. It came in two parts because they had two different energies and you can definitely see that. Maybe this wasn’t for you which is fine, but for me it was great. I really liked it. But of course I’m just biased, I’ll always like anything Taemin does or puts out into this world.

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  7. I liked it, even though it did feel kind of generic, and Criminal was so much better that there’s no way this didn’t feel disappointing to everyone. But hey, at least there’s Heaven on that album!

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  8. lmao i can’t believe the comments? i guess we all have different tastes. this was the song of the year for me. many have done hard beat drops before, but this outdid all of them for me. i love the haunting strings, the aggression/drama. and how it contrasts with the piano during the heaven scenes that are so ethereal. the way each section transitions into the other.

    the concept is also so complex and detailed i could write an essay here but i don’t have the time.

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  9. hello this is 3 days late but it takes me a while to formulate my thoughts on songs anyways.

    I do think this song was a lot weaker than Criminal, which honestly managed to move right up past Want to get into the top 3 Taemin songs for me. The verses were so confusing and unmelodic that I can’t even remember how they go (which is saying something, because I remember the “melody” of the Punch bridge lol) after 6 or 7 listens. That being said, I really felt like the chorus managed to hit all of my personal favorite things if you have a drop chorus – the zippy staticky low bass, the choppy rhythmic singing Taemin’s doing on top, and of course the string swoops in and out creating a melody. I guess it’s just a matter of taste, but I would listen to this song again and again just for the uber-satisfying chorus.

    Based on the video, I do wonder if some of the disjointed uncomfortableness of the song is intentional, but just not executed well enough to be obvious.

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    • I hated the song the first 2 times too after that I actually liked it somehow (it grows on me more and more). The thing that actually threw me off was not the drop but actually BoA’s voice (which I normally like). It just sounds way too nasal for the song and too slow. I like the verses more, but it is a song that grows on you. I still think that it is probably my least favourite track of him (together with Move. Move is great too, but it is too monotone in contrast to the other vocally interesting title tracks he has. But I would still miss it, if it didn’t existed). Considering that he wanted to do something unusual for him, it is good (even though another Criminal would have been perfect. It is my favourite title track if him). He was already finished with the album since he released Criminal so this album is pretty much what he wanted. I think he wants to calm down more while he is getting older and he himself said he is becoming more sentimental, so I guess that’s why there are so many ballads and he maybe thinks of the future where dancing will become harder (and he once said he lost for a time being his passion to dance. Maybe he is afraid that it happens again?). Also, I think Idea is probably actually way more his style than we realise, because he once said he likes rock music etc. but has to find something which fans and him will enjoy. I haven’t listened to the album completely, but I think my favourite is “I think it’s love”, even though I often don’t like slow songs (I wish we would get another Shadow). I think especially this album is more focusing on the lyrics than the instrumentals and I think a lot of the songs sound way different with good earphones or live (Heaven for example sounds live so much better, it sounds a little bit boring recorded). We will probably get a repackaged album and then he will join the military, so I am thankful for what we get 😂. If anyone is interested, this is my title track ranking (I hope I don’t forget anythinh): 1. Criminal, 2. Want, 3. Press your number, 4. Danger, 5. Move and Idea. I can’t really rank his Japanese releases (because I often enjoy the b-sides more and kind of forget about the title ones. For example Tease and Exclusive are really good).

      Greetings,

      Sera

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  10. I loved this song lmao, I think it was super artistic in sound and performance I am super biased coz I love all Taemin music but still. Also I thought it was good when I first listened to it but the more I listen to it the more I love it. I think I like criminal more tho.

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