Review

Song Review: Taemin – Advice

Taemin - Advice
It seems like all we’ve been doing this spring is watch SM idols enlist in the military. Most have graced us with a final album or single before taking their leave, and SHINee’s Taemin is no exception. Two weeks before enlistment, he’s delivered Advice. This marks his third album in nine months — a staggering feat even for K-pop. Though military training isn’t exactly a vacation, I hope he’s able to get some well-deserved rest following all this hard work.

Here’s the thing about Taemin’s solo music. Too often, I find that it just doesn’t live up to his skills as a performer. This says more about how incredible he is than the music itself, but every time I hear a song like Advice I can’t help but imagine the missed opportunities. Just a couple weeks ago, I re-watched the mash-up of Guess Who and Sexuality performed on his T1001101 tour. Though never promoted as singles, these two songs perfectly encapsulate the energy and hookiness his solo career was made for. Most recently, the excellent Criminal furthered this dancefloor drive.

Like most of Taemin’s recent b-sides, Advice is easier to appreciate than enjoy. It’s artistic and moody and very much in keeping with his musical touchstones. Yet, I don’t find it all that enjoyable to listen to. The instrumental is built upon flourishes of piano — a very cool idea that worked wonders in a song like Henry’s Trap. But, this element is fused to an overly-familiar, modern hip hop beat that goes nowhere. The instrumental necessitates a kind of repetitive phrasing, where both the verses and chorus adhere to a lurching rhythm that never makes room for shots of dynamic melody. Apart from its cathartic bridge, Advice mostly sticks in one gear. Taemin’s performance is suitably magnetic, but once again his material doesn’t quite match his talent.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

56 thoughts on “Song Review: Taemin – Advice

  1. It’s definitely not his best but I’m mesmerised by this song and its chorus, it honestly feels like they put some kind of drug into it cause I keep going back to it lol.

    He looks incredible.

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      • I am obsessed with yesterday’s life stage, watching non-stop, I need help… I like the song, I do not know why, trap is not my thing. I like the sounds (and gestures) mocking people gossiping. And I liked the song the first time I listened to it, like Guess who, Press your number, and Criminal.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think we are listening to the same track…
      Advice is an instant classic for me! It is both multi layered and simplistic at the same time. I’ve listened to it on repeat and
      I keep being drawn to the bass line- which although subtle at first is in evidence from the first phrases in the piano.
      As far as I can tell its just five bass notes revolving endlessly in the style of Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This by The Eurythmics which as I’ve adored Annie Lennox and The Eurythmics my entire life is a pretty impressive song to be quoting in relation to Taemin (after all that iconic track has managed to stand the test of time as a true classic since 1983). The repetition in both songs results in a feeling of uneasiness- a gentle foreboding quality which I really love.
      The vocals, bass line and repeated piano theme keep revolving in & around each other which feels like a musical conversation and the bass line itself has a heartbeat quality in places which gives the song real body and depth.

      The higher piano line with rhythmic arpeggio style notes are mirrored in the same middle register by some of the backing vocals- just on the edge of hearing. The backing vocals are very satisfying- just enough layering to add depth without overpowering the main vocal. Some of the backing vocals also use the same effect as the piano/bass as they are rhythmic but stay on the same note for long periods of the phrase- creating different harmonies opposite other parts which are moving alongside. So you have a push/pull sensation between something static and something mobile occuring simultaneously.
      Considering how quickly some of the phrases are Taemin’s main vocal is incredibly crisp- I think this mini album is the most impressed I’ve ever been by him vocally- he never over cooks it- it’s on a warm simmer throughout.
      The “synthesised” vocals are clever and not dominant- so many times entire songs have been ruined by the use of vocal effects which I loathe (with the track resembling that demented crazy frog axel f monstrosity circa 2005: and yes I mean you Ring Ding Dong!)
      The overall impression I get from Advice is haunting. This track invites you to listen again and again as the repeated phrasing only resolves itself in the last few notes of the piano leaving the listener wanting more.
      I cannot adequately express how much I love Advice- Taemin did an amazing job and I am so proud of him!
      Those that produced this track also require a huge round of applause 👏

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I think this is my least favourite Taemin solo. It just kinda goes nowhere and doesn’t live up to the kind of performance that Taemin is usually capable of.

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  3. One day, SM puts out a Next Level and the next day, puts this out. The chorus is mesmerizing and instantly memorable. The piano flourishes are so enjoyable. Though nothing can live up to criminal (I suppose?), this is a great song. Would rate it in the 8s. Well, I guess it’s a year and a half without Taemin now.

    P.S Gfriend is disbanding. I’m devastated, particularly since last year for standout.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m very upset about the Gfriend news as well!
      Last year was amazing…but it was so busy- it had to wear them down…and I’m guessing they weren’t compensated fairly given the number of promotions and the new HYBE status wasn’t enough…
      I would’ve loved to see a 2021 Gfriend comeback. 😦 Cant hold anything precious these days!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Here is Taemin, showing how its done. Taking concepts that are overdone, and doing them well. Even the high pitched strainy vocal, even that sounds good here, or at least its a conscious artistic choice that works.

    The piano is everything in this song, without it the song loses a lot of the magnetism. Compare the second verse+chorus without the piano, and then again during the break when it comes back. Its not quite two different songs with-without, but it just flows better with that piano underneath.

    The theming is good too – Let’s take my own advice. Finally a song that seems to be about something. I haven’t gone to a lyric video yet, but that line shows promise.

    Low 8’s for me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • As for the lyrics, it’s basically kind of “don’t control me, stop being so boring, i’ll do what i want and if you cross me you get hurt.” kind of vibe. Some of the lyrics I don’t translate well, because some of the lines are “it’s floppy” or “I destroy the torso that you were chasing after.”

      I think some of kind like Joker thing and comparing it to artistic freedom, though I can’t be fully sure if my take is quite right? I don’t know, it’s slightly hard to determine with translated lyrics.

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      • Hah, we were replying to each other at the same time!

        I’m going with “Bad Breakup Song”, disguised as “Artistic Control Song” and yet vague enough to also be “Fans and Antis: Knock it off! Song”.

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        • Now that you mention the break-up song, yeah I think it does feel very much like that. I’m a little disappointed, but I mean I don’t normally listen for lyrical content so I shouldn’t be too mad. Though for Advice, it would’ve really elevated it if it had some pretty great lyrics.

          I don’t often look at lyrics but I’ve recently just been looking at them and somehow I’m discovering some very interesting lyrics. The nature of korean translated just makes every line just slightly off in some ways, but this can lead to some very interesting lyrics. 3YE’s Stalker was much more appreciated after I read the lyrics and saw how interesting they were. Advice less so.

          Liked by 1 person

            • Really? I don’t think the lyrics were meant to be seen as romantic or in some kind of healthy love and I don’t see it. The imagery that it creates is a very blatant stalker. That’s the whole point.

              Those lyrics were not tweakable to be a love song. At least from my reading of the lyrics, the chorus is literally about someone who is hunting down who they are stalking through suffocating and kidnapping them. Or possibly that the stalker killed who they were stalking. There are lines about crossing the line, animalizing, in my hands like a marionette dolls, hidden black eyes, idea vs. reality, swallowing someone in the darkness, and sharp killing motion. I feel like all these lines are hard to translate as romantic all together, or even change without just plaining making everything different.

              I don’t think the song needed to necessarily call the morality of stalking because I thought it was obvious these lyrics were from the POV of a stalker and that by extension we know that this person is not good. Songs can be of things that are bad as long as the song doesn’t make it out to be right or something. It doesn’t have to be morally correct to be good lyrics. I don’t think there’s single point in Stalker where it seems like it’s meant to be anything less than dangerous.

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              • So I checked out the lyrics at one or two sources more than the initial video, and it seems that whichever video I used painted a more sanitized picture. That said, I wish the song made some other decisions to emphasize its choices, which I will explain in my reply to Myma’s comment.

                But I think a lot of these lyrical gaps come from different cultures having different concepts. For the Chinese folks, try translating Zhen Qi or the Dao into English. For the Indians, try Om or Yog. It is an interesting conundrum and makes me wish I knew all the world’s languages.

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              • The song gives me a vibe similar to Kang Daniel’s Paranoia.. The perils of celebrity. The gossipping mouths, the feeling of being trapped, everyone trying to unlock the secrets and burrow in. And he’s saying get a life, find something better to do.

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            • I hadn’t read 3ye’s lyrics until now, but I think it is a song told from the perspective of the stalker. Although with some tweaks – more than a few but not a ton – it might be an obsessive love song.

              In the same way, the Police “Every Breath You Take” is actually a song about stalking his ex-wife although most everyone thinks its an obsessive love song. (And then in one extreme makeover it became an homage by Puff Daddy to the Notorious BIG, somehow, that one always perplexed me.)
              the Police original ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGWF3ZsZPYs

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              • Every Breath You Take and f(x)’s Shadow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY25vVPCKr8) both are songs told from the stalker’s perspectives and commonly misunderstood as obsessive love songs, I love both songs. They are eerie and get the horror of a stalker well enough. Musically, MV-Wise, and lyrically, all aspects go together.

                While 3YE’s Stalker’s lyrics they show the dangers, but MV-Wise, and music-wise it is a club song. I personally think that weakens the lyrics, as it lacks consistency. Still, it is an overall solid song.

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                • I do think that the song isn’t creepy and is just plain club music. I also do think music-wise, songs don’t have to be how their lyrics are, because I do love most happy-sad songs or hidden meaning songs. I liked that this random club song just has darker lyrics and much more sharper and interesting lyrics, because often times it’s all just about having fun so I liked the juxtaposition.

                  That said, now that you suggested it, there is some pretty good potential for a very interesting MV with a story that goes darker, but it didn’t. I think that’s where it could’ve stood out considering how little received the comeback was, but it’s too late for anything now.

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                  • I love juxtaposition in pop songs. But here is the thing, vocal performance and minor cues have to help it make sense. TXT’s Run Away has some dark lyrics in a youthful pop song, but it makes sense due to the desperation in the members’ voices. 3YE are really great performers, but I felt they did not give that edginess they should. Still, I get your point.

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  5. I can’t unhear “I’ll shoot, don’t wanna fight.” for one of the lines. I’m quite curious to know what level this is on the scale of English for k-pop songs since it’s somewhat decent but not totally. I’m also still quite not sure what one advice he’s talking about though perusing and staring the lyrics it’s still not clear but I think it’s some kind of “I’ll be free to do what I want and don’t you dare stop me” message. That said, I still don’t get the use of the torso in the song? What is it supposed to mean that you destroyed it!?

    On to the song itself, I don’t hate it but there’s just something off about it I suppose. It might be the percussion that just screams trap, and I am not a fan of that especially when there’s literally nothing else to grab onto in the instrumental. I like parts of the melody and less of the raps. I think are some very potentially good hooks but I feel that the production does it some really bad injustice. I like piano normally, but I also don’t know if it helped in this case.

    I also just think the way he performed it just has this high manic and slightly obnoxious quality. I can’t if it’s some kind of tightness in the falsetto or some purposeful sleaziness but it sounds appropriate and well done but not enjoyable, at least to my listening experience.

    I’d say it reminds me of twenty-one pilots, but I don’t think TOP actually sounds like this (their recent stuff actually sounds very After Laughter-y to me).

    I think they achieved what they wanted from the song, which was like some kind of manic evil villain song with a Joker-like character, but it comes off as very posturing I suppose. This song just has that juvenile bad boy energy that I can’t deal with. I don’t fully dislike it, but I’m just not gonna listen to it after today.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I take back my lyric comment in my comment just above. Its not so lyrical. It appears to be a “bad breakup” type song, trying out a few novel turns of phrase and succeeding in some parts but not all.

      I think the line translated as “I destroy the torso you were chasing after” could be a reference to the ex being only after his body and physical being.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That… actually makes a lot of sense that way. At first I thought torso was just a bad translation, but the word they use in korean is actually just torso (toreusoreul). But out of all the words, I don’t know whether torso was the right one to use. Maybe they didn’t have an option but surely nouns are easily changeable, right? Maybe they referring to abs and physical beauty or something, but I don’t know.

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    • The torso line makes me think of the tattoos he has on his torso, like fans are lusting after the purity of his body but he’s choosing to put ink on it

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  6. Taemin can do no wrong, not now, not ever. I will listen to this song over and over until I don’t know my own name. I’m waiting for Bookish Theories to break down the symbolism so I can lit crit nerd all over it. The piano, the piano is pure luscious drama. His performance, good lord, the smallest gestures drawing you in. Taemin, Taemin, Taemin.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I really liked this song it was weird in the right kind of ways and really catchy. The performance is great too, the man just has something about him that can’t be trained, if I could describe it I would.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the high register Taemin is singing in as the chorus escalates. Followed by chipmunk vocal chops! Love it!

    Honestly as far as these songs come – straight ahead trap pop solo tracks- this is probably as good as it gets. We are getting straight venom viper Taemin and I am so grateful for his gifts.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Taemin is my favorite Kpop performer and his dances never disappoint. This song is different than what he has done before but still sounds very himself…like something only he can do. It’s not my favorite title track of his but it’s not bad either. I quite like it. It seems like he is set on making music very artistically and I can’t get mad at that.

    I will enjoy this release and his previous releases until he comes back with new music in 2023.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I liked the song, though it took me a few listens to get more and more into it. For me, the piano is the song’s shining point (besides Taemin himself). Without it, I’m afraid it wouldn’t have as much appeal. Though not my favorite, Taemin can’t make a bad song, in my opinion.

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  11. “Advice is easier to appreciate than enjoy” sums up how I feel about this song as well. Taemin is the standard, he carries with him insane levels of charisma and experience as a performer, and for that reason this song is more appealing to me than it might have been otherwise because he manages to make this work as a performance piece. I kind of feel the same way I did with Don’t Call Me – the sing-talking and the trap beats aren’t really my usual style, but it’s a song I can work with (while also preferring the b-sides lol). I enjoyed the piano though. I will be waiting patiently for him to come back safely!

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  12. The reference to Henry’s Trap gave me an insane sense of nostalgia. I still love that song.

    I don’t know why, but Taemin’s delivery here feels a little too frantic for the moody instrumental. Maybe that’s intentional. Maybe it will grow on me. The fact that some parts are so high-pitched certainly does not help, though.

    Still, this more upbeat, piano-infused track is closer to my taste than his usual work. I would not be surprised to see it grow on me.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I like it, but in the way where I’m not sure if I would like it if it weren’t a Taemin track. Piano loop is easily the best part of the song; probably could’ve done without the falsetto.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think the manic thing is because the song is also about acting out. He has (another) car accident, gets hurt again, and probably dies. I think the torso is a reference to sexualization (while showing us his torso and tattoo). I liked the song, the piano and the chorus; it is weird like Idea, which I do not like.

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  15. To the people saying this deserves a better rating than Next Level, I think it’s just a matter of bias to Nick. Since Next Level contains everything which Made SM so dominant in their golden era. It’s like same case scenario with SuperM’s 100, Advice on the other hand is kind of a blend of two elements which don’t go well together and It’s probs that Nick doesn’t resonate with this sound or it’s just that there is no familiarity within that context.

    Personally Speaking, I find both songs “meh”.

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  16. The piano here is a work of art. I definitely feel like a lower vocal part in the chorus would help balance out how high it is, but it might take away from the manic feel. There are some really excellent moments within the song, like the vocals that are added into the texture at 2:03. This isn’t my favorite, but there’s something really compelling about the song itself, along with Taemin’s incredible charisma, that just draws me in.

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  17. I wish the piano loop was more prominent throughout the whole song. Actually, just scrap everything else and puts 1 hours loop out of it.

    It’s taemin’s worst song for me. I still replayed it a few times but after each replay it’s only more obvious that taemin performance somehow made it seems much better than it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Chorus is pretty catchy, but the song is kind of simple, (which is maybe unfair to say, because “Criminal” was also pretty simple, but in a way that allowed Taemin to elevate it and create a strong, stand-out track). Not bad, but not great.

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  19. Sometimes some songs need to age in order to make some sense for some listeners.

    For me, this (and Red Velvet’s Psycho) are those songs. They are not necessarily the best songs but I get to appreciate them better as time goes by. Trap beat is not really my cup of tea (initially I couldn’t even stand the half sing, half rap verse) that’s why I probably judged this song a bit quicker than I should. Re-listening to this after months later, I can’t believe I never realize how Taemin sounds ‘aggressive’ throughout the song. There’s also a tiny hint of sadness, regret or even loss. Only then I understand the emotional appeal of this song.

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