I know Ten is probably a busy man and all that. Between NCT and WayV and whatever else I’m sure he has things to do, but after releasing “New Heroes” (and even the “Dream In A Dream” if they bothered to make it more of a song than a performance piece), it’s absurd to me that they put him on the backburner for over three years when he clearly has solo chops. He continued to show as much with “Paint Me Naked”, a pop-punk influenced track with modern sensibilities.
“Paint Me Naked” held appeal to me from the first seconds, starting with an instrumental foundation of guitar strums and bass hits that put the song on solid ground. It especially takes off during the pre-chorus punk-inspired yelling of “cause you really make my fancy work” that transitions into a chorus that just kicks both the electric guitar and bass into a next level. It’s hard not to bounce along to its addictive energy and beat. Furthermore, the conclusion after the subdued bridge especially brought out the punk elements, finishing with the kind of hectic yet oddly melodic mess that this kind of concept deserved.
Another underrated part of this is the amount of charm and charisma that emanates from Ten, not only within the song and concept, but it’s never more apparent why he’s a performance member of NCT than in the music videos. Like many other reviewers of K-pop, I loathe how chorus choreo has been geared towards Tik Tok nowadays, but Ten manages to make it fun, and the less seemingly restrained things are, the more he shines (again, the ending part is pure fun).
The fact that Ten has to wait over three years for another single is absurd to me given that relative quality he’s put out, but perhaps the fact that SM Entertainment doesn’t seem to try so hard with him is the reason for his quality sound and aesthetic as a soloist. Regardless, while I never expected Ten to fit in as a soloist years ago, he’s clearly somebody to look out for with every release now.