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Taemin might be the most alluring and sensual idol in the K-pop industry. His newest mini album, Want, continues to showcase his incredible sense of rhythm. The youngest member of the group SHINee, Taemin has a distinct vibe that sets him apart. Want is his third studio album on his own. It might be his best. With this being his shortest album, it can be listened to in just about 20 minutes. This makes each of the seven songs easy to remember and fun to replay. Going song by song, you can see how Taemin knows his style and works it as best as he can.
Of course, we have to start with the title track. "Want" is classic Taemin. The lyrics are all about passion and desire. He sings to someone tempted by his own sexuality. It’s alluring and filled with lines mentioning heat and temptation, and his voice is sultry and inviting while he sings it. It’s definitely one of those grind-in-the-club songs, but with class. Taemin does sexy, but it’s never vulgar and dirty. He’s never overly-explicit in his lyrics, but leaves just enough to the listener to fill in the blanks. It’s a quality to Taemin’s music that I adore, and it makes him one of the most confident and captivating stars out there today.
The dance for "Want" is another trademark of Taemin’s. The way he moves is so distinct. It looks like he has no bones. He’s fluid and almost serpentine, yet he throws in some sharp staccato movements at times, too. "Want" is a sexy song, and Taemin pulls off the vibe with ease. The choreography lacks any physical contact with any of his background dancers; no obvious body rolls or overly sexual gestures. Instead, the way Taemin fluidly glides on the stage and moves his arms and legs give you all the info you need to understand what’s happening. Taemin has also mastered the sexy stare at this point in his career. He makes sure every inch of his body is invested in his performance. There’s tight control in every move he makes, and I highly suggest watching this latest video from him.
Following "Want" is "Artistic Groove." a song that has become a standout for Taemin fans since its release. Similar to "Want," the sexy electronic beat is still there, and Taemin’s voice is just as inviting. The idea is almost identical to "Want," but it takes the attraction to a more romantic level. The title is fitting, as many of the lyrics are so artful and beautiful to listen to. He references waves, and it’s hard to pick one line to be my favorite. There’s so much water imagery, from Taemin describing his lover as, “A wave that swirls deeper into my heart” to “A little darker in color, I soak into the beautiful you.” This works in both describing how Taemin moves to how sensual and fluid the song feels. The vivid imagery and flowery language shows Taemin is not just a pop star. He’s an artist performing his craft. He feels the lyrics and the beats, and he gets invested in them, making the song a part of himself.
"Shadow" is an underrated song. I’ve seen plenty of praise for many of Taemin’s songs, but "Shadow" is my second favorite. This one has a much more dramatic and classical vibe to it. The strings that make up the background music are the driving force in the song. When paired with some drums in the chorus, it makes Taemin’s voice even more powerful. It’s a song about being haunted by a loved one who has left. It’s a devastating song packed haunting memories, echoes that dig deeper into his soul, and traces of this person he’s trying to be rid of. I also enjoy the female voice in the background, enhancing the sound of the song. She’s like a little melody in the background that both starts the song, ends it, and plagues Taemin throughout. She gives voice to the other person he’s singing about. Taemin’s voice carries the sadness and hopelessness in the softer verses. He sounds like he’s lost, or trying to get away from that person. Then the chorus hits and he adds a strength to his voice, showing the frustration he has in the situation.
Because this isn’t one of the songs that gets talked about too much, I really hope people listen to it more. When you mix Taemin’s voice with string instruments, you get something that sounds sexy in a sophisticated way. Instead of the sultry notes in "Want" and "Artistic Groove," "Shadow" elevates Taemin’s voice to an even higher emotional level. It’s absolutely one of my favorites, second only to "Monologue." "Shadow" has a different vibe than every other song on the album, making it a fun change of pace.
Unfortunately for me, "Truth" is the only song that doesn’t quite stand out. That’s not to say it’s a bad song. It’s still a good song, and it has a nice flow to it. It isn’t a fast, upbeat song, nor is it a slow emotional one. It’s a gentle song to nod your head to while riding the train or taking a walk. It has that electronic sound in the chorus that marks a lot of Taemin’s work, so it feels familiar on the ears.
Where "Truth" does work for me is in the lyrics. Because the song itself doesn’t do anything new or exciting, understanding the lyrics helps you get the feeling of what Taemin is trying to convey. This song breaks away from the lust aspect of a relationship and enters into the realm of true love. It’s very sweet, with some tender and moving lines. In the middle of the song, he declares, “I want it to be me, every moment of your life/When you open your eyes until you fall asleep.” While it’s not exactly an original sentiment, the devotion packed into these lyrics feels honest. These lines in the verses are sung over a quiet piano, giving Taemin space to use his voice to carry the weight of the song. It’s when he repeats the word “Truth” in the chorus that the electronics and music get too overpowering for me. I would rather hear Taemin than a sound mixer.
The last two full songs of the EP take the sexy concept of the album and switch it up a bit. They’re quieter songs, relying more on Taemin’s voice than the backing instruments. "Never Forever" is distinct in that it uses an acoustic guitar almost exclusively. While it is acoustic, it isn’t slow. The song moves along quickly and provides a good beat for some speed walking outside. This is fitting because the metaphor in the song talks about walking together with someone, but then realizing you have to go on different paths. This one doesn’t quite hold the pain of a breakup song. Instead it sounds like an acceptance. Two people have had a long while together and there’s not a future in it for them anymore. Case closed. The soft detachment in the song is a nice break in the intensity present in the rest of the album. If anything, "Never Forever" is a good introduction to the themes and deeper emotions present in the following and final song.
The best song on this album is "Monologue." To get the obvious out of the way, people have been listening to this one and thinking of SHINee’s member Jonghyun, who the world lost just over a year ago. His unexpected death was devastating for fans and, of course, the SHINee members themselves. It reminded everyone the importance of taking mental health issues seriously, and to take care of yourself and those around you before things spiral and the worst can happen. I’m not sure if this song is about him. There’s been no public statement or official word like that, so I don’t want to write a review of the song from that lens without having all the details on the situation. It’s a sensitive issue, one that hurts for SHINee fans to think about, including myself, so I don’t want to assign certain meanings to things if that isn’t what they are truly about.
Regardless, "Monologue" is gorgeous. It shows how far Taemin has come from being the youngest in a K-pop group to an incredibly strong solo singer that could sell out venues all by himself. It’s composed of a piano, some strings, and Taemin’s voice. That’s all. Even before looking at the lyrics, you can hear the sorrow in Taemin’s voice. It brought tears to my eyes. He’s really in pain in this song. It’s so hard to pick a favorite line. They all pack a punch. From memories of the night he lost this person to talking to himself without being able to move on, every line has meaning. Taemin has a person that he misses so dearly, and he knows he has to let them go. However, he can’t. He wants them back, and it feels like time has stopped because he just can’t get over the fact that this person is gone. I can’t quite put it into words the way this song makes me feel. It’s almost unbearable to stare at the lyrics for too long. Taemin’s voice is absolutely beautiful, but at the same time there’s a heavy sadness that comes over me when I listen to it. Still, I can’t stop myself. It’s ethereal. For every ounce of sadness present in the song, I can’t help but smile to hear Taemin expressing a deep personal part of himself to his listeners. If there’s only one song on this album that should be heard, it’s without a doubt "Monologue."
Sometimes outros on albums annoy me. They can feel rushed or forced, like if you cut them, the album wouldn’t be any different. Luckily, Taemin doesn’t run into this problem. What impresses me about this outro is that it’s so simple. I love how it circles back to the sound in "Want" and it is only a minute long. It’s perfect to guide you back to Taemin’s mesmerizing nature. There’s an electronic bass underneath Taemin’s harmonizing notes. It’s pretty much 30 seconds of Taemin’s beautiful voice. He has a high voice, and it works well against the deeper tones in the instrumentals. It ends on Taemin practically moaning a final note. This is the perfect way to round out such a dynamic and sexy album.
Want is another great outing from Taemin. The singer has such a distinct style, and it comes through in this EP in a nice, small collection of songs. If you get the chance, give Taemin’s Want a listen and see how long it takes for his voice to draw you in.