Long considered the stalwart vocalist of K-pop’s Girls’ Generation, Kim TaeYeon made her formal debut as a soloist on Oct. 7 with a game-changing EP.
TaeYeon’s “I” contains five songs and a bonus instrumental version of the single “I. The album makes the most of her strong, melodious vocals while changing things up quite a bit from the dance pop that Girls’ Generation is most known for.
Instead, “I” highlights TaeYeon’s maturity as a singer by showcasing her powerful vocals through a variety of musical styles.
The album starts off strong with the title track, an ambient modern rocker.
The song “I” opens up in a surprising way, introducing the self-affirming chorus right off the bat before guest artist Verbal Jint gets his rap in. Guitar and percussion elements keep “I” grounded in a pop-rock style that TaeYeon’s voice is essentially made for, while adding to the SNSD singer’s sound with Verbal Jint with an echoing backing chorus that provided airiness and depth.
Whereas “I” is the declarative track on the album and filled with innovative elements, the second song “U R” is simple, expressive romantic composition that gives brings TaeYeon safely into the K-pop ballad zone, with little more than piano, strings, and gentle chimes to distract from TaeYeon’s evocative vocal performance.
“Gemini,” takes the album into into the world of R&B. Brassy jazz elements surround TaeYeon’s voice, which expresses such a dynamic vocal range that at different points of the song it is almost as if the K-pop star is singing a duet with herself.
Pop rock comes into play on the track “Stress.” The sassy, uptempo song is different from everything else on the album, giving TaeYeon a chance to shine as the pop princess of Girls’ Generation that she is.
“Farewell” brings the album to a close with the kind of soft ballad TaeYeon does best. The gentle song builds slowly, growing into a powerful tale of heartbreak. As with other tracks, TaeYeon uses multiple layers of her voice to build up the mix, before ending the song (and the album) off with a gentle “goodbye.”
The album also contains an instrumental of the song “I,” which, as a standalone, gives us a chance to explore the airy elements of the song that might otherwise be overlooked.
With six songs, TaeYeon’s first solo release is a work of art that really lets her shine in a way we haven’t seen during her time in Girls’ Generation.
Soaring to new heights on “I,” hopefully this brief EP is just the beginning of a new chapter in her career.
Listen to the EP “I,” Girls’ Generation band member TaeYeon’s debut solo release in its entirety RIGHT HERE
Tamar Herman is a multi-media journalist and the co-founder of KultScene. She is a freelance writer and copy editor, and has written for MTV Iggy and Noisey.