We need to talk about Lee Taemin.
Lee Taemin, often simply known as TAEMIN, SHINee’s youngest member, main dancer, and lead vocalist, just put out his second full-length release, MOVE, on October 16—a release that only serves to prove that Lee Taemin stands amongst the most talented solo artists within SM Entertainment.
Lee Taemin has grown immensely since his debut with SHINee in 2008, becoming arguably the most prolific dancer within his company and a talented vocalist with incredible artistry, which seems to be a common point between SHINee members—let’s not forget Jonghyun’s skilled songwriting, or Key’s strong, eccentric taste in fashion. When it comes to Taemin, however, there’s just something about his art—both his music and his dancing—that is so unique, and MOVE only further proves that point.
Composed of nine tracks (and I’d say it’s not enough), the album revisits Taemin’s characteristic genre, electronic dance music, through a variety of different angles all encompassing the same dark and sensual atmosphere—and it’s genius, all of it. MOVE is such a well-executed album, from the very first track to the very last, and there’s not one (not one!) bad song on it. Everything works so well together, and I’ll be damned if I don’t admit that this is one of my favorite releases from SM Entertainment this year—and a lot has to do with Taemin himself: his skill, his charisma, and his undeniable strength as a performer.
The album opens on the title track “MOVE,” a smooth, slightly groovy, and absolutely tantalizing dance track. The bass is heavy, dirty, and omnipresent, and it sets the beat throughout the song. Adding themselves to the mix are the synths, slightly retro in sound but almost drowned by the bass (not a bad thing at all). And lastly, Taemin’s voice; God, he sounds good. His tone stands between murmured and sung, breathy and sexy, enhancing the mood of the song in the best way. It’s almost hard to convey just how good “MOVE” is, but it is also obvious that a lot of its strength lies in how simple the arrangement is, yet how intricately it is all put together.
To top it all off, the title track comes with a stunning music video, where Taemin dances with unmatched grace and effortlessness in a dark and intriguing setting. Honestly, the music video deserves a review of its own, but I’ll just let you watch and enjoy it for yourself. Taemin is absolutely mesmerizing in it. I honestly have no words.
As I said, there’s not one bad song on MOVE—which then makes it difficult to ever pick a favorite. “Love” stuns with its grandeur and its majestic piano-driven melody, while “Crazy 4 U” creates a perfect balance between fast and slow, with its R&B-influenced verses and its quick-paced, performance-oriented dance choruses.
But listen, if there’s one song that I was surely excited about before listening, it’s “Heart Stop.” You see, I love Red Velvet. And in Red Velvet, I might have a soft spot for Kang Seulgi, who happens to be featured on this song. “Heart Stop” is, in a few words, the main dancer collab we probably don’t deserve, but were lucky enough to get anyway. Seulgi and Taemin’s voices go wonderfully well together; it’s especially interesting to hear Seulgi on an EDM track like this one, something Red Velvet has never really done before with the exception of “Body Talk” or “Some Love.” Even then, the tracks didn’t come close to what “Heart Stop” has to offer in terms of rhythm. Can we hope for a live performance of this song, please? I would give my arms and legs readily for it. I’m not kidding.
Another great thing on MOVE is the variety the tracks display without sounding out of place. Especially as we move onto the second half of the album, we’re presented with a wide array of influences. “Rise” is another personal favorite of mine; the song is to MOVE what “Soldier” was to Press Your Number, in a way. Though “Rise” is very much a love song—and with stunning lyrics, at that—it has that same piano-driven, spectacular aura to it that “Soldier” has. It’s no surprise, really: the credited team behind “Soldier” is the exact same as the one behind “Rise,” composed notably of Matthew Tishler, who has penned quite a few of SM artists’ best ballads.
“Thirsty” is, hands down, the best song on MOVE, tied with “Stone Heart.” The distinct sound of ice clinking against glass tells you right away it was composed by the same team behind EXO’s “Sweet Lies” and “Twenty Four” (which you know I absolutely love). And so of course, “Thirsty” retains some of that urban R&B sound, but it is especially special, as the focus is put on Taemin’s voice and the lyrics he sings. That trap beat is something I haven’t heard from Taemin’s repertoire before either, but the way he delivers the song makes it as though he totally owns the genre—and he does, in this song; oh, he does. If you’re curious as to what a live performance of this song looks like, look no further: I’ve got it here for you. The choreography is much different from the simplicity of “MOVE,” but it only serves to prove that Taemin is not only the best dancer in SM, but definitely stands amongst the best in the industry as is.
The following track, “Stone Heart,” is my favorite for one main reason: the way it seemingly paints a picture, telling a story through the music alone. The melody is simple, but not exactly repetitive; Taemin’s voice stays quiet throughout, never once disturbing the peace of the song despite its quick beat. It’s so, so beautiful—it’s the kind of song you could have on repeat and not get tired of, since there’s just so much happening without it getting overwhelming, and you end up finding something new and incredible each time you listen to it. The next track, “Back to You,” kind of carries the same feeling, though the arrangement is much different from the quick dance track that preceded it. In the song, we only hear Taemin’s (stunning) voice and the subtle guitar that sets the pace. It is the best way to emphasize Taemin’s voice and the emotion he pours in his delivery.
Closing the album is a Korean version of the Japanese song “Flame of Love,” released in June of this year as the lead title track to his second Japanese EP of the same name. If you haven’t heard it, now is definitely the time—it is quite brilliant, with the way it marries pop and dance with traditional sounds. I’ll leave you with the rather impressive music video for the Japanese version, but do give the Korean track a listen—and, along with it, the rest of the tracks on MOVE. It deserves all the attention and praise it can get.