Taeyeon’s “Rain” a step back due to jazzy retread production & clean vocals

TaeyeonRain

To kick off its new ‘Station‘ platform, SM Entertainment has released “Rain,” a solo effort by SNSD’s Taeyeon that is just pleasant enough to kill a couple of minutes.

It’s difficult to review “Rain” with any sort of enthusiasm (good or bad) because it is so stridently average. Unlike Taeyeon’s previous solo effort, “I,” which was able to take Taeyeon’s textbook delivery and give it new life through an adult-contemporary spin that one doesn’t really find in K-pop, “Rain” has Taeyeon plying her trade through a more traditional jazzy arrangement that is rather abundant in the genre.

Part of the problem could be traced to the song’s production, which is a boilerplate mixture of coffee house light snare riffs, soft keys, and guitar licks. But perhaps the bigger issue is that Taeyeon doesn’t do much to elevate the material either. To her credit, Taeyeon is able to insert a nice breathlessness into the song’s opening verse that gives “Rain” some needed soul — the production wisely leaves Taeyeon’s breaths in the mix, which makes the beginning of the song feel that much more alive. Unfortunately, while the verses feature some solid work by SNSD’s leader, the choruses are a bit lacking.

Taeyeon is a fine singer, but if there is something to criticize her for here, it’s that her straight-forward style falls flat when called upon to propel the jazz-oriented elements of “Rain.” She can hit every note and reach the requisite volume necessary to match the music, but the consistent, polished approach to singing that makes Taeyeon a perfect asset for a girl group simply doesn’t have the same impact here where a more emotive approach would have been preferred — “I” was able to skirt around this by using Taeyeon’s crystal clear delivery as an angelic holler of a hook. As is, “Rain” is fine, but it’s the sort of track that is readily forgotten after an agreeable spin or two.

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As for the video, “Rain” is pretty standard SME work. Every shot is crystal clear, the video’s editing is perfectly decipherable, and the music video’s set is impeccably decorated to look like an Englishman’s study from the 1800s. Taeyeon somehow manages to make “sitting and staring wistfully at the ground” look meaningful, even as the most interesting visual aspect of “Rain” is the hilarious water special effects for the flooding of Taeyeon’s ‘Cost Plus World Market Wonderland.’

Like the song, the video is a satisfying watch — the rich color scheme of the set is a huge winner here — but it’s not the sort of thing that I will eagerly seek out in the future.

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