The best thing about Ailee is that she understands exactly what she’s good at and how to best utilize her talents. While her taste in R&B music can run the risk of sounding derivative, Ailee’s latest single “Don’t Touch Me” manages to put together a music video which is so competently made that concerns over its relative lack of creativity are washed away in waves of glamorous R&B glory.
The most underrated part of “Don’t Touch Me” may be the instrumental track. It’s aggressive enough to be pronounced yet it’s understated enough to let Ailee own the track with her rocking R&B-stylized vocals. Booming low keys interplay with a sneakily addictive snare to start “Don’t Touch Me” and that basic combination is all that Ailee really needs to work. The track is well within Ailee’s comfort zone and the girl doesn’t disappoint. Ailee attacks each note with a confidence that is damn near infectious and her willingness to add some flourishes to her notes helps give “Don’t Touch Me” some needed soul in a genre that is often too polished for its own good. And while Ailee sometimes has a penchant for oversinging her notes or reaching her maximum volume too often, she paces herself nicely in “Don’t Touch Me.” It is never exhausting to listen to and by the time Ailee quips “I’m out”, one can’t help but want an encore.
The video plays things safe but it’s well-made. The sets contrast nicely with each other so that no background starts to look stale. As there’s no real plot to ground everything, “Don’t Touch Me” is free to use whatever framing devices it likes and the production thankfully opts for sets that look a bit retro to go with the single’s R&B roots. The ballroom set, the brick wall and the seemingly circus inspired background allow “Don’t Touch Me” to stylize Ailee as a modern day diva without running from her throwback inspirations. Is it a standard dance-in-a-box number? Yes. Importantly, the cuts make sense, the choreography is clear and the direction shows a surprising amount of restraint when it comes to the strobe lighting (or maybe I’m just desensitized by this point). Like the song, the video takes a conservative but wise approach to everything, unafraid to let Ailee carry the show.
And boy does she carry it. Is there a way to grade hair flips? Because Ailee has that and all the diva moves down pat. There are no styling missteps and Ailee moves with a fierceness that is only matched by her singing. She looks great and, more importantly, she’s able to convey that she knows that as well.
In all, Ailee’s “Don’t Touch Me” is probably exactly what people should have expected out of an Ailee release and it manages to meet those expectations head on. For fans of Ailee (and I count myself among them), “Don’t Touch Me” is like slowly cooked comfort food. It may not surprise but it’s really damn good and well worth waiting for.