This is a fantastic analysis/review by Cha Woo Jin, a popular music critic. It’s pretty in depth and long and he kind of goes off on a tangent but worth a read 🙂
Critic by popular music critic, Cha Woo Jin
Earlier this year, the webzine that I belong to, decided to select important domestic/overseas albums from the last 10 years (from 2000 to 2009). Personally, I contemplated which albums to pick beforehand, just for fun. I’m not interested in rankings, but spent more time thinking of standard. Above everything, I based my choice on positions and contexts of the albums rather than the musical execution because I wanted to break away from the prejudices like “must listen albums in the history of Korean popular music”. Actually, the point is, Taeyang’s HOT album is among them.
Taeyang is an interesting person. Because he has the precarious position of being a solo musician even though he is in an “idol” group, he is facing the dilemma of producing “authentic” music rather than imitating, that most popular Korean musicians encounter. Taeyang combines the “natural things” and “trained things” in his voice, in a harmonic and successful way and that has formed the basis of why people have so many expectations from Taeyang. I wrote on my personal blog, at that time, that “depending on his success or failure, the prejudice and concepts we’re are reminded from typical Korean singers (including songwriters, authenticity, management companies and idols), will be changed” and my thoughts have not changed from this yet.
It is the same about SOLAR, which he recently released. I hoped that there would be more songs like “Look Only at Me” but even though there weren’t, I can’t say I haven’t understood what he’s trying to put forth with this album. There is a strong impression that he tried to maintain a balance between what the company (or people0 wanted and what he wanted. Growing up consistently is more important than shooting up too fast. So this is a good start.
But there is also another reason Taeyang is interesting. I think the common impression people get from him is that hes a “polite and prudent boy” and “a many who has never dated” and I think these two images make “idol authenticity”. Of course, “Idol Authenticity” is a word I made up. This is strange (I don’t mean if idols are authentic, but I mean just the word “authentic” is strange). Actually, I accept this strange word because in essence it’s Taeyang. Even though he is an idol, people consider him to have a “musically earnest” attitude and a singer who has much potential and growth. Taeyang even changes our popular beliefs about idols by stating in an interview, “But I want to go out [date]”. Normally, it seems this boy’s only hobby is music, and who has never had the chance to go out and “flirt” and most people really believe this is so about him and about idols. Whether its just the public’s imagination or its actually so, the pureness and innocence we get from him, cause us to regard him as a different singer from any other idol group members. This authentic aura about him doesn’t only make Taeyang’s musical outcomes seem like an extentsion of his pureness, but also works as the basis of making people expect him to grow exceptionally as an artist and overcome the limitations of idol members. It may be only my personal thoughts (because I, too, am a personal fan of Taeyang’s pure smile and earnest attitude). Nevertheless, the reason I pay attention to Taeyang’s path and music, personally and critically, is because he is synchronous with a ‘boy’s face’. That is, he synchronizes a popular music with being an idol. So then, criticizing popular music may not be possible with the naked eye.
Reviewed at Hankyoreh 21
Translated by MYOKOON@ALWAYSTAEYANG (do not remove credit)