The best thing about Taeyeon’s solo career thus far is that it has developed a sound separate from that of SNSD’s pure pop experience and TTS’s funk-pop hybrid. Instead of going with either of those more familiar routes, Taeyeon has gone near-adult contemporary, a decision that works with her full, decidedly non-kiddie delivery and helps hide her weaknesses when it comes to emotional range (I don’t even want to hazard a guess as to what Taeyeon singing an aegyoish song or going full on hip-pop would sound like but I’d put a lot of money on it sounding awkward). However, if there is a weakness to this approach, it’s that the more “adult” pop efforts can also stray towards coffee-house ambient dullness and while Taeyeon’s latest effort “Why” isn’t full-on acoustic mumbling, it doesn’t leave much of an impression either.
As a song, “Why” does everything acceptably… and that’s about it. The production blends a bit of highly pitched modern electronic dance pop elements with a grounded percussion and Taeyeon’s assured vocals which creates a relaxing balance that the song holds for its entire run time. The hook is neither outrageously catchy nor completely awful, doing just enough to ensure that song’s title registers with listeners. As with all things Taeyeon, the song is executed well but it also sounds restrained, as if “Why” is afraid of straying outside of an extremely controlled environment. The moment where Taeyeon hits that high note at the end of the bridge practically begs for something triumphant, loud and life-affirmingly messy following it but the song opts for a small break before simply closing things out with a couple of choruses. It makes the experience clinical when the music video for “Why” looks like it was shooting for something more organic.
The video is gorgeous. As the President of the Outdoor Location Shots Are Superior To Dance In A Box Sets Fan Club, “Why” is a dream. “Why” doesn’t try to do anything very ambitious with its locations but it makes up for that by having a wide range of shots, from beneath a pool’s surface to a desert to a food truck with a lax policy on condiment bottles. Every shot bursts with color thanks to some good weather and Taeyeon’s outfits, all of which, somewhat miraculously given the fact that these are outfits that appear in a K-Pop video, manage to look pretty great without straying too costumey or loud. As for the star of the show, Taeyeon isn’t asked to do much except twirl, pose and drench some poor soul in ketchup and mustard but those are tasks that she unsurprisingly pulls off extremely well. Taeyeon could drown me in sauerkraut and relish for all I care.
It’s impossible to hate “Why” because, at the end of the day, it sounds very pleasant and is very visually pleasing thanks to the stunning location shots and Taeyeon being Taeyeon. However, it’s also nearly impossible to love because “Why” seems to aim for a mildness that even the most spice-averse person would deem a bit too lacking in punch. “Why” is like a 65 degree day in June. It’s nice, but it leaves one wondering where the heat is.