[Review] Taeyeon is “Happy”, but doesn’t inspire the same emotion

More than almost anything else in the world, music makes me happy. There’s a certain indescribable rush that my favorite songs give me, and it can’t really be quantified. I don’t need a song to tell me to be happy. If it’s good enough, that thrill will come automatically. With that said, I certainly don’t begrudge any music for attempting to bring some light into the world. SNSD‘s Taeyeon in particular deserves all the optimism and brightness that music can give. She’s been through a lot, which makes “Happy” an integral part of her artistic story. However, the song itself does not inspire the kind of unbridled joy I wish it did.

Instead, “Happy” is the kind of forgettable mid-tempo that Korean charts seem to love. Its plodding nature feels antithetical to the song’s subject matter. Repeating the word “happy” during the chorus isn’t enough to rouse spirits. The production and arrangement must do their fair share of heavy lifting as well, and the plonky, unadventurous approach is more apathetic than cheerful.

Thankfully, the producers have a few tricks up their sleeve. I like the brassy undertones to the instrumental, and there are some nice backing vocals that give the track a real throwback appeal. Sadly, the chorus upends much of this potential by reverting to trap percussion and a genuinely unadventurous spirit. It feels as if “Happy” wants to fully embrace and develop its doo-wop influences, but instead plays things right down the middle. This results in a track that won’t likely offend, but won’t inspire either. I would have rather heard Taeyeon go full Motown with this, upping the energy with a livelier instrumental and more daring vocal arrangement. That’s the stuff of true musical happiness.

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IATFB says: Yeah, glad about what the concept appears to say about where Taeyeon is now, but I can’t say I would give it a second thought if it weren’t from Taeyeon. I’ve never begrudged a song for being safe if it’s fun or catchy or whatever, but this just comes off uninspired to me.

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