For all the opportunities that a sub-unit offers groups (chances to experiment with looks, concepts or genres), TaeTiSeo eschews them in “Holler” in favor of a look and sound that is almost all too familiar and safe.
Like everything in “Holler”, the track itself is well made and competently sung but it ends up sounding a bit too calculated. Horns and wind instruments have thankfully made a strong resurgence in pop music over the past couple of years and “Holler” makes great use of them to pacing the song to start. Falling back on a horn and snare combo is smart for a brisk single as it’s pretty much impossible to mess up. The only problem is that it never really goes anywhere from there. The track opts for emphasizing some questionable instrumental breakdowns towards the end of “Holler” to try and liven things up but the production tricks end up producing an opposite effect. If “Holler” starts with a purr it ends in a series of stalling fits.
As for the vocals, the song actually does quite a good job of ensuring that one can hear the difference between Taeyeon, Tiffany and Seohyun – a task made difficult by the song’s insistence to limit the range of its vocalists and the fact that the trio could easily swap lines around and nothing in the production would suffer or improve much. TaeTiSeo handles “Holler” with ease but it’s almost too simple. The chorus isn’t very catchy and it is incessantly chanted throughout, as if simple repetition is the key to a good pop song. The added vocal echoing effects to the the “hollers” removes what personality TaeTiSeo offers. The group’s verses and Taeyeon’s breakdown at the end are quite nice (even Tiffany’s rap works well here) but what soul TaeTiSeo and the horns are able to add are somewhat mitigated by the hook.
The music video takes an average concept and spit shines it to a glimmering shine. To be clear, this is about as boilerplate as an SM Entertainment concept gets. Dance-in-a-box shots, individual shots and location shots are cycled through with all the predictability of a pro wrestling match but it’s hard to fault “Holler” for falling back on familiar trappings when they pull it off so well here. The sets are rich in details, the color schemes are luxurious and the lighting is incredible. As shallow as the concept seems, it comes across as rather extravagant, from the hits of gold in the lighting to the marbled tile to the simple depth of some of the sets. Simply put, “Holler” looks great, even if it’s a bit weak as far as its creative direction (the very beginning, with it’s cartoony text bubbles, tries way too hard to argue that it’s fun rather than simply showing it). If there is an argument for not re-inventing the wheel, “Holler” is a good piece of evidence though.
It helps that TaeTiSeo are about as conventionally glorious as one could hope for in this thing (and I mean that in the best way possible!). The outfits are all spot on as each wardrobe choice complements the sets in ways that make visual sense. The one snag that TaeTiSeo runs into (the group’s hairstyles are all similar as is the coloring) ends up mattering very little because all three look flawless sporting the same shades of commercial fashion shoot.
In all, “Holler” doesn’t find TaeTiSeo taking any risk which isn’t very surprising given that SNSD members barely have any reason to try taking risks at this point of their careers. TaeTiSeo’s latest single is a passable song dressed in a very solid music video and for better or worse, that seems to be exactly what the SNSD sub-unit was aiming for. “Holler” operates on cruise control but at least the scenery is breathtaking.