Oct 26, 2015

New Zealand Is Beautiful, And So Is Taeyeon's "I"

It's honestly a bit strange how it long it has taken for one Girls' Generation member to release a solo album. I mean, even groups with a shorter lifespan have members with solo releases, and none of them are as influential as SNSD anyway. However if there was one member of this group that was meant to have an album of their own it is Taeyeon, for obvious reasons. Not only did she vocally carry eight other members for years before others such as Jessica, Tiffany and Seohyun could catch up, but she's by far the most skilled out of all of them. With a voice like that she truly deserved music of her own to perform, and now she finally does.

"I" is, with all intentions and purposes, different from regular SNSD work. Taeyeon has said many times that she felt uncomfortable with, and even hated, some of the concepts the groups have done in the past. It's well known how much she despised "Gee" for example, and how she even cried when she knew it was going to be their title track. Taeyeon is, to anyone who's familiar with her, not a person that feels at home acting cute or innocent, but rather the opposite.

[OFFICIAL] Taeyeon – Concept Photo For ‘I’ 1500x2250She has mentioned how the stronger, fiercer concepts that SNSD has done has been her favorites, the ones that are more mature and womanly. For her to have her own album is probably very meaningful to her, as she can finally do the music and concept she wants without having to fit into a certain standard. What I'm trying to say is, although very badly formulated, that "I" is so her. This is Taeyeon, and I don't think I've ever seen her so at peace with the music she's releasing before.

The song itself, "I", is a beautiful debut track and overall beautifully constructed piece. I know she didn't write it entirely on her own, but she did have some input in the lyrics, which makes listening to it as well as watching the MV much more personal. It is, essentially, about overcoming pain and hardship and growing into a better, stronger person. During Taeyeon's many years as an idol I'm sure there have been moments of doubt and frustration, and this song feels very much like a release of some sort, a way of receiving closure.
[OFFICIAL] Taeyeon – Concept Photo For ‘I’ 1333x2000
Musically the song matches the lyrics perfectly. It has sort of a soft rock sound, but it's definitely Taeyeon's vocals that take center stage. I personally would have liked it a bit rockier and edgier, but I can see that they tried to keep it at least somewhat radio friendly so I'll take whatever rock I can get. At first it has a very hollow sound, but as the song develops the backing track gets louder and more intense, and it has a very satisfying climax with Taeyeon belting from the bottom of her heart near the end.

The video, too, matches the song and lyrics in a pretty impeccable way. As you probably already know she flew all the way to New Zealand to shoot this MV, so it's natural for it to include many landscape shots, both with and without Taeyeon in them. Featured rapper Verbal Jint however gets stuck in dark room instead, but the projected images of flowers on the wall behind him does add some symbolism and beauty to it. Taeyeon is, as the lyrics imply, a flower that's growing more beautiful by each day. Anyhow, what these sweeping geography shots add to the video is worth noting, because apart from being gorgeous they also, along with the music, create a sensation of freedom and endless possibilities. This feeling that's being created is essential to the MV.

What I mean by that is that although the video is very focused on the stunning locations and imagery, there is also a plot that does add a lot of meaning to it. Taeyeon is seen working at a local bar as a waitress, but she's obviously fed up with it. She dreams of something bigger, but is scared to spread her wings and take a leap of faith. A brief encounter with a butterfly, whom so freely flies to whichever place it desires, makes Taeyeon realize that she has to do something about her situation.

She throws away her apron, steals the keys to her boss' car and drives away with a big smile on her face. The freedom she's always wanted is now right there in front of her. At the very end of the video, on a lone beach, she faces her inner self. They both smile at each other and the quest towards becoming her true self is finally starting. I guess the point this video is trying to make, along with the lyrics, is that whatever struggle you might face you can overcome it. Although the video in particular might deal with being stuck working a job you might hate and not really doing what you truly dream of there is much more that can be applied to it.

[OFFICIAL] Taeyeon – Concept Photo For ‘I’ 1500x2250Lyrically I get the feeling of Taeyeon singing that for years she has been showing a less than true side of herself and have been experiencing many hardships and struggles, but now she has risen and is finally coming to terms with her life. I find that these two lines summarize it pretty well: "Fly as if I'm dreaming. My life is a beauty". Listening to it definitely makes you emotional, and the video certainly helps in giving that sense of release and closure. You can feel her battles, her dreams and her will to pull through in every second of it, and it does make me feel like I can achieve anything too.

After watching the MV for "I", whilst taking in the song and reading the lyrics; I feel like I've rediscovered Taeyeon. At least I have a new-found respect for her, because I do think this is as close as we're going to get to uncovering who this woman truly is. Everything about this video is gorgeous yes, and the New Zealand landscape is truly one of a kind, but what stuck with me the most is how genuine and personal it feels. I feel like I'm on the journey along with her, and everything she has felt and experienced is there in the video as well. It's a beautiful self-portrait, and I'm grateful she has shared it with us.

Song: 3,5/5
Video: 4/5

In the meantime, please enjoy this wonderful live performance as she for the first time performed her debut song on a music show. Not only does she sound wonderful but she looks so incredibly, genuinely happy that I can't help but feel a bit emotional.

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