As SNSD’s star vocalist, over the years Taeyeon’s solo career has received a lot of hype and scrutiny to go along with it. I haven’t been the biggest fan of her more dramatic, vocal-intensive efforts, but when she steps out of that box she’s produced some surprising gems. While I understand that the former pays the bills and gets the charts and praise, “What Do I Call You” is another success for the latter.
This is a good example of a song that could’ve easily fallen into the category of musical efforts that fit in with the indie scene in a real anonymous and uninteresting way. A chill atmosphere (despite somewhat biting subject matter) that relies on an acoustic guitar is not usually my cup of tea, but the combination of a slow heavy beat, a snare, and her own backup vocals give it a surprising amount of life and personality.
Taeyeon’s vocals elevate “What Do I Call You” as well. In her more vocal-focused tracks, the instrumental seems clearly superficial to the effort and makes it for an uninteresting affair, whereas on songs like this (or like “I Got Love”) her vocals are still impressive as usual but it feels like an effortless integration and ends up taking a cool instrumental to the next level.
While this isn’t necessarily a standout single that many might’ve expected or wanted, I rather enjoyed this and I think it could sneak up on people as something with a broad appeal that’s quite engaging. The replay value, in particular, was surprising, with the question “So what do I call you now?” lingering on. Overall, a nice addition to Taeyeon’s wide variety of songs in her arsenal.