Nearly five years since they debuted, the popular nine member girl group has formed their first sub-unit. Speculations ran wild for quite some time until SM Entertainment confirmed the first sub-unit would comprise of group leader and power-vocalist Taeyeon, “manager” Tiffany and maknae Seohyun. And thus TaeTiSeo was formed! (Would have much preferred ‘TaeNyHyun’ though)
I only hoped TaeTiSeo wouldn’t follow the played out sub-unit concept of overtly cute, a la Orange Caramel and Rainbow Pixie. Thankfully they didn’t.
Here’s the track-by-track review:
1. “Twinkle” – The self-titled lead single:
It’s very clear what the inspiration for this song was – “Lady Marmalade,” the 2001 version at least. That version is a cover of the 1974 original by Labelle, so the song’s producers were surely going for a classic funk vibe. Although I didn’t love it at first listen, it slowly grew on me. But when the MV came out – my god, I was hooked! Not because the song sounded any better, but I can’t stop gushing about how good the girls look in this music video. So glamorous and oh so pretty in each shot. I watched the 1080p version and couldn’t stop staring at the three girls, and somehow it mesmerized me to keep to listening to the song. Oh SM, you and your evil ways!
In all seriousness though, the lead single isn’t the best track on the album, but it is something different from the girls of SNSD. So I can see why SM Ent. chose to go with it. TaeNy have performed “Lady Marmalade” as part of their concert tours in the past year, so I take it the girls themselves liked the sound and wanted to show a more glamorous side to them. – 3.5/5
2. “Baby Step” – Let’s get this out first. This song was first done by the now-defunct boyband Varsity Fanclub. And although the girls of TaeTiSeo have better vocals than those guys did, I still prefer the English original a pinch more. Obviously SM Ent. bought the rights of the song from it’s writers, and re-wrote it in Korean. But the modern production gives “Baby Steps” a new lease of life and for that, you have to give the girls credit. – 3/5
3. “‘OMG (Oh My Gosh)” – If this song sounds a bit similar to SNSD’s own “Chocolate Love,” that’s because both songs are by SM’s Kenzie. The girls’ vocals soar on this electronic-retro pop song, and by now its fairly clearly why these three members were chosen for this sub-unit. – 3/5
4. “Library” – A cute, late 90s pop-inspired track and easily my favourite song on the album! Produced by a team of Swedish songwriters, I loved it on first listen and had it on constant replay soon after. Love the bridge and the chorus, and it’s a perfect girl group song – cute, innocent and so carefree in its sound. – 4.5/5
5. “Good-bye, Hello” – This is such a year end, wintery song! It has all the charms of a Christmas single. Acoustic, simple beats, jingles throughout and a sing-along chorus where you can’t help but swing your head from side to side. Another great track! – 4/5
6. “Love Sick” – Apparently a song about a shy girl’s first love, the vocals excel in this smooth R&B ballad. Here I was thinking the album would turn mediocre towards the end. It doesn’t. – 3/5
7. “체크메이트/Checkmate” – The final song is an uptempo funky number, with a song structure that reminded me of SHINee’s “Sherlock” a bit. I think this is one of those songs that would sound better live with a real live band backing the girls. – 2.5/5
Then again, I did mention in my EXO review that SM Entertainment seems to have a new focus on quality this year. No more lousy album fillers — there’s good quality music from start to finish. TaeTiSeo’s ‘Twinkle‘ is yet another example of that. That said, although it’s pretty obvious SNSD’s strong vocalists went first, TaeTiSeo’s vocals also gave me an idea as to the limits of how far the girls’ vocals could go. Towards the end of “Twinkle” when Taeyeon and Seohyun attempt the high notes, it comes off as though they are trying their best, but sounds a bit struggled. Taeyeon is easily the best singer in Girls Generation, but clearly even she can only go so far with her voice. As much as I love her, I don’t think she can sing as well as Christina Aguilera or Celine Dion.
I’ve seen the same with Jessica too – SNSD’s other power vocalist. Which begs the question – so who’s next? Apart from TaeTiSeo, the next best singers in SNSD are Jessica and Sunny. YoonA, Sooyoung and Yuri are on par with each other and Hyoyeon, well, we all know why she get’s the least lines in every song. It’ll be interesting to know who the next SNSD sub-unit will be. Hyoyeon will definitely be part of a more dance-oriented group (with Yuri and Sooyoung? That would be a laugh riot!), and I’d love to see that sub-unit do a pure club smash like 2NE1 or 4Minute. That leaves Jessica, Sunny and YoonA (weird pairing, if you imagine what they’d look like with their height differences) and a concept that may not be that much different from TaeTiSeo’s.
Anyway, hats off to SM Ent. for the SNSD sub-units. It’s a welcome change and nice to see the girls (at least a third of them) try out music genres that normally wouldn’t suit all nine of them.
My final rating for TaeTiSeo’s album ‘Twinkle‘ is…