Review: Ailee – “Don’t Touch Me” Is Some Good Ol’ Fashion Ear Candy

ailee don't touch me magazine

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.

All that fabulous.

All that fabulous.

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 why wouldn't they let her own the stage?

And why wouldn’t they let her own the stage?

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.

Killing it.

Killing it.

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.




  1. I hope that at some point in the next year or two that some US or international record label with real marketing muscle decides to get behind Ailee and produce an English language release. I would really love to see her have success back here in her home country. She sings better than the majority of pop singers that are on the charts here in the US. Hopefully some record exec with the right influence will get excited about her potential as an international star.

    “It is never exhausting to listen to and by the time Ailee quips “I’m out”, one can’t help but want an encore.”

    That quote reminds me of the feeling that I had listening to U&I and how it ended leaving me wanting to hear more. So many of Ailee’s songs make you want more even though they are ending.

    1. Not so sure she could be successful state-side (she did relocate to Korea to pursue her career after all). She’s one of those K-Pop starts that I’d acknowledge has a great voice but K-Pop is so much more than that to me. Would have liked to enjoy this release more but it’s a tad loud and busy for me, without being as melodious as ‘U&I’. I think the MV quick cuts are also done to obscure the fact that she’s really not trained to dance like your typical K-Pop acts. She once mentioned during an interview that “I can’t dance. I just wiggle”. Yeah, need to listen to her more to develop a taste for her unique style of music.

      1. She has the tools to succeed in the US but yeah. She relocated because there were more opportunities in Korea. Music still seems to be one of those entertainment bastions that Asian Americans have a hard time cracking.

      2. William Hung probably did more to set back Asian-Americans being taken seriously as pop music artists than just about anyone with his 15 minutes of fame for seriously sucking at singing. I wish someone would break through domestically and break that stereotype that Asian-Americans are all bookish, curve-busting, classical violin playing nerds. At least there are more Asian-Americans breaking through into starring roles on TV and movies than there once were though many still play pretty stereotypical roles. My understanding is that Ailee did have some interest from some American record companies, but they weren’t major companies, and US labels don’t really train their artists. It likely made a lot of sense for her to head to Korea even if she really dreamed of trying to be successful in the US as the training she has received in Korea will benefit her greatly if she ever does try to make a go of it in the US or international market.

      3. You are right about dancing being her weak point. I wonder if part of the reason she lost about 20 pounds before this comeback (Other than for the sake of appearance) is that it will make here lighter on her feet and likely make dancing a bit easier without hurting her singing from being short of breath if she tries to dance more intensely. At least she can take heart that Tiffany was a really bad dancer when she started out with SNSD, but she worked hard at it and is a competent dancer now.

        Of course with Ailee’s voice, her dancing really isn’t much of a concern as people pay to listen to her sing, not to watch her dance for the most part.

  2. Too. Many. Cuts.

    The girl is lovely. Could you let us focus our eyes on her for more than a freaking nanosecond please?

    1. There were a lot of cuts but after T-ara, I’m just thankful that my brain could follow what was happening.

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