Ten is one of those fantastic SM finds with unlimited potential for solo stardom. He’s a bundle of charisma with a uniquely global appeal. Previous singles have capitalized on this, recorded in English with international trends in mind. This can be an asset and a limitation, and new single Paint Me Naked is held back by its sense of familiarity.
I feel a bit duped after the song’s teaser seemed to promise a punk pop energy. Instead, Paint Me Naked is the kind of mid-tempo bop currently littering charts worldwide. Ten does the best he can to infuse attitude and star quality, but this material is hopelessly generic. Blasts of rock guitar add grit to the instrumental, but the melody spins its wheels in a ho-hum approach that never goes for the jugular. For a song about wild, liberated love, Paint Me Naked simply paints by numbers. You can almost sense Ten longing to bust free of the song’s confines, but the timid arrangement never lets him.
This doesn’t mean Paint Me Naked is a failure. It’s a perfectly serviceable example of 2021-era top-40 pop. But while this style may elicit a subdued head nod, it does little to inspire excitement. The chorus is catchy (if melodically repetitive), and the track casts a few sparks during its guitar-heavy climax. Ten’s magnetic appeal keeps Naked engrossing despite its flaws. But, I long to hear him tackle a song that matches his skill. He’s primed for a solo career every bit as dynamic as agency seniors Taemin and U-Know. Material like this isn’t going to get him there.