Song Review: Key – Hate That… (ft. Taeyeon)

Key - Hate That (ft. Taeyeon)K-pop acts should never publicize comeback plans too far in advance. Schedules are fraught with uncertainty, especially when it comes to big agencies like SM Entertainment. Key’s new solo album was initially promised for July, but has now been pushed back to the end of September. To satiate eager fans, he’s pre-released Hate That — a duet with fellow SM artist (and good friend) Taeyeon. While it’s an enjoyable mid-tempo track, I hope the full comeback delivers something with more bite.

I love that Key has been able to collaborate with Taeyeon, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a title track that bears his name alone. So far, all his titles have featured another artist, resulting in music that feels a little scattered in vibe and style. Most of the solo tracks on his debut album presented a clear, convincing sound that felt true to Key’s musical touchstones (or at least those he has expressed publicly). Hate That is sentimental and affecting, but doesn’t feel unique when stacked against other SM solo tracks.

Hate That is built upon an atmospheric guitar loop that runs through the entire song. I enjoy this sound, but wish the instrumental pushed itself in new directions. Without much diversion from this central loop, the production threatens to become one-note. A dynamic melody, filled with highs and lows, would have helped alleviate some of this dullness. The repetitive chorus doesn’t do much for me, but the verses are quite pretty. Taeyeon makes a great duet partner, delivering understated emotion that perfectly matches Key’s performance. However, that’s my main gripe with the song as a whole. It’s so understated that it passes by with little impact. This may appeal to some listeners, but I’m way past ready to move beyond this restrained, “chill” phase of pop music.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7

19 thoughts on “Song Review: Key – Hate That… (ft. Taeyeon)

  1. Darling daughter subjects me to all sorts of songs on my ipod on our morning commute. I have tried to enforce new car rule such as “only once per week” but she still gets stucks on A’s in Artists and the A’s in their songs. In other words, yep, Akmu “Alien” again. An awesome song choice in theory and in practice but with morning commutes blurring into one, its dejavu all over again.

    This week’s new releases felt the same. I swear I have had around 8 kpop releases on my feed that were all chill. What month is it? Its not coffee house April, people! Its August, the other A month!

    Mommy myma has a rule, only one chill per week.

    Jung Seung Hwan has already won that spot, so this one loses. I mean, cmon, his has real piano and cello on the instrumental. That’s it: singer, piano, cello, performing their hearts out. And not some slow tempo with the same damn chords cycling slowly, endlessly. Where is the art in that?


  2. I could pretty much copy/past the comment I just left on BTOB’s release, so I’ll just take this space to say that I hope your transition back to work is going smoothly! I actually like the change of having these posted towards the end of my day rather than the middle (I’m in central time) – my work is picking up and I could use fewer distractions earlier in the day. Plus it’s nice to have more time to absorb the new releases on my own n


    • Glad the new schedule is working for you!

      The transition at work is predictably crazy, but we’ll get over the hump soon enough. The first few weeks in September are always a mess, so I’ve gotten used to it 🙂


  3. I like the lyrics and their voices blend surprisingly well together, I’m a massive Shawol but I think Taeyeon outclasses our Key as a vocalist so I was super impressed. Hoping for a title at the level of Imagine, the live stage of that in January was amazing. But for a pre-release this is nice. It’s cute that he actually released a track called Hate That after joking about it. You are right, there’s a very Western top 40 feel to it. Overall I will definately play the hell out of it when I’m working or driving.


  4. I actually really like this song for some reason. The guitar I hear in the background combined with Key and Taeyeon’s vocals was soooo pleasant to listen to. While I am ready for the “chill” song phase to morph into something new, Hate That… definitely made it onto my personal playlist.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I had a feeling this wouldn’t really be your thing but I love it. It’s just very pleasant and makes me feel like I’m wrapped in a nice blanket (and it’s too cold right now lol).


  6. “So far, all his titles have featured another artist, resulting in music that feels a little scattered in vibe and style.”

    This song is very One Of Those Nights though? It’s very Key.

    “Key’s new solo album was initially promised for July, but has now been pushed back to the end of September. To satiate eager fans, he’s pre-released Hate That”

    It’s not to satiate fans, it’s part of his plan for his comeback, like Forever Yours was a pre-release for his debut album. Key said this is the mild release, and the spicy one is coming. If you look at the photo that’s been released for his upcoming Beyond Live concert, it has a scifi theme (Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land specifically) like this MV.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree that there’s tons of songs like this in the west but just because there is similar songs does not mean you have to ignore the quality here… The song structure is 100% western pop, not kpop, and only the melodic top-line (the notes that they sing) is kpop. For someone that always complains about Kpop having all english lyrics… I was surprised that you ignored the kpop elements in this song.

    For example: listen to “We Don’t Talk Anymore” by Charlie Puth, it’s more repetitive, the melody and lyrics are also way more simple. Charlie Puth does some adlibs at the end but vocally the track is pretty boring. Selena sounds, to be honest, bad compared to Taeyeon. Now “Hate That” has a very kpop melodic top-line and very clever simple lyrics that are sung with extreme technique and precision and forethought to show a certain emotion.

    Key put TEXTURE and FLAIR into this simple mid-tempo pop song and got to show off his lower range so much more than usual because Taeyeon was doing the main melody! Listen to his background vocals during her verse and then at the very end… it’s gorgeous!!! He even sings parts of the song that would be synths in another song.

    Production wise “Hate That” is just superior to most western pop songs of the same type so I don’t agree on your 7 for it. In my opinion, it was a very smooth listen, nothing grated at my ears when most of the songs of this kind do. It’s sleek, clean and fresh… It’s also very spare and cohesive and restrained when the americans song of this type typically have a very simple base and lot of random sounds layered over it that don’t always feel like they’re adding to the song. “Hate That” sounds extremely polished and high budget. It moves smoothly and organically. I think it’s a perfect pre-release track.

    Long time lurker and this is my first comment. Really like the comments sections in this blog and I hope I wasn’t too sharp on mine. English is not my first language so sometimes I get the tone all wrong when I disagree. My tastes are different from Nick’s but it’s because of how he explain what he likes/dislikes that I know what songs will work for me and which won’t.


    • Welcome! You’re not too sharp at all! It’s clear that we have different opinions on this song, but I respect your passion and I’m glad you enjoy it! I hope I end up loving the title track when it’s released. I love most of Key’s music, so I’m anticipating 🙂


      • Thank you! I also really liked his solo work! Key described this pre-release as mild flavored and the tittle track as “spicy” so I’m very curious as well. And thank you for creating this space!


  8. I like this more every time I hear it. That guitar, real or not, is so pleasing. Their vocals go so well together. I can listen to this on repeat.


  9. Of course anything with Taeyeon will be not “Nick favourite” but who cares.The important is how Taeyeon always active release new song (as solo or collab) rather than stay in dungeon


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