To shake things up this week, I’ll be doing an album review of Never Gonna Dance Again. Come join me and see if this is the album you’ve been looking for — it definitely was for me!
You can stream Never Gonna Dance Again HERE on Spotify.
Taemin has been on my radar ever since I fell into kpop — SHINee was the first group I really got into. His solo work is incredible too, and his dancing is the peak that all other idols aspire to. I’ve always been able to hear and see the influence that Michael Jackson has had on his work, and I feel like it’s more readily apparent in his new album, even as Taemin makes that influence his own.
I’m loving the vibe of this dark and hypnotic song. The lyrics are about a relationship where both partners slowly destroy each other — “so elegant, a criminal who destroys me” and “My hands holding yours as you stabbed me are not clean either” — and even though that has never been my experience, I could live inside this song forever.
Black Rose (feat. Kid Milli)
This is another darkly beautiful song — Kid Milli’s vocals are a brilliant contrast to Taemin’s smooth tones. The song uses the deep backbeat sparingly, making for a compelling listen as my ears search out that next beat. And check out this choreography!
I cannot say how much I love this song. The simple, rhythmic piano drew me in, and Taemin’s vocals remind me of my favorite technopop songs, but with a more complex melody. The percussion sometimes sounds like footsteps walking away — so genius.
Ah, the tango beat is brilliantly used here — it’s immediately captivating — and then the song morphs into something more like kpop, only to pull right back into the tango. It’s push and pull at it’s finest!
This song feels like it’s straight off the catwalk with its crisp beats and seductive half-whispered chorus. The lyrics are a little heart-wrenching, a clear-eyed look at what it is to be famous and the things that come easily because of it, and yet the price of being famous as well.
This slow ballad has a strong feeling of nostalgia to it — the lyrics talk about missing someone every second. The use of a ticking clock as part of the percussion is brilliantly executed. The unusual structure of the song sets it apart, drawing out the chorus and allowing more of the feeling to show.
Just Me And You
After all the poignant songs, “Just Me And You” is more hopeful. The beat and melody are lighter, but still compelling. Taemin’s voice just floats over the verse, then gets stronger as he moves into the chorus, carrying a conviction that this relationship is what he needs.
“Nemo” is a song about regret, really. To me, though, it’s the ballad that gets in the way of me and “2 Kids”. It’s got a very retro 90’s R&B ballad vibe, down to the chord progression. If that’s your thing, you’re gonna love this song!
I love the pop vibe over the regretful lyrics for this song. Taemin carries it with his determined vocals, so solid and understanding. The beat is catchier than I would have expected for a song reflecting on a failed young relationship, but it speaks to me in a way I didn’t expect.
UPDATE: New Insights into the WHOLE ALBUM
So Taemin filmed a reaction video to his MV for “Criminal”, and in it he says that “Criminal” is about the two sides of himself merging, Stockholm-syndrome style. So instead of this album being about past failed relationships, it becomes about his past relationship with HIMSELF. I think this is an absolutely fascinating twist, and puts a new spin on everything. He also said that his next album will be happier.
Watch the whole video below — it’s worth it to see how much input he had over where the MV went, and to see his professional side and his very adorable side. I love them both.
What do you think, music fans? Could Taemin become the king of kpop? Drop down in the comments below and let me know!
Until the next album drops, I remain —
Karie the Maknae
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi