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.