As I pointed out before, the main vocal Kim Junsu possesses incredible musical abilities: His clean vocal control, the sense of responsibility where he would understand a song before performing it, and the different vocal styles he uses with respect to each song. I think this is the source of the phrase that I coined through twitter a while back, “using the entire body to sing”. This talent of Junsu has been confirmed through various types of performances and also been shown to the audience through his albums. Since solid vocal ability is a necessity for musical performances, this aspect of him is certainly reaffirmed; and so there’s no need to hold doubt towards it. Now, what we need to talk about is his first solo album!
The topic throughout his first solo album, Tarantallegra, is perfection. How much depth can Kim Junsu show us? Or rather, how could he break away from his preset image until now and show the audience new results? Thus, he needs more than perfection. If he couldn’t handle the ideas well, the creativity will have loopholes holistically; and to this, Kim Junsu certainly felt a lot of pressure. However, after listening to the entire album, I found that Junsu altered this pressure to fate that artists endure. It’s like a piece of handmade craft, where Junsu’s presence can be felt from every little element. Tarantallegra means a spells that makes people dance, but I feel that it may be more suitable to call it a spell that makes people feel the different emotions instigated by music.
While listening to the album, one thing really surprised me: it seems that Junsu is exploring various styles of music with “deviating from what the audience is used to” as his goal. From this, one can see his vision of not limiting himself to the styles that he likes or is good at, but rather within this frame called music. Interestingly, this variety that Junsu presents us with is mostly created by himself. When I first heard “Tarantallegra”, which was the first track released, I drew the conclusion that it will create a sensation. This song, composed and arranged by Junsu himself, has the perfect harmony between beats and various instruments and sucks the audience into its black hole. In addition, Flowsik’s baritone/bass rap furthered this feeling wonderfully. The choreography and Junsu’s charisma, as seen in the music video, also became factors that stabilized the song.
“Set Me Free” is the result of a challenge of mixing the new fad European genre of Hands Up Electronic and woofers as well as guitar. Even though the sound created from this combination is very luxurious, it can be a little heavy, which juxtapose with each other and creates a wonderful contrast. This unique atmosphere will become the main distinguishing factor of Junsu from all the other artists. Furthermore, there is a clear progression within this song, which creates a drama-like feeling, and thus it is able to have a very solid structure.
“No Gain”, the song that Kim Jaejoong gifts Junsu with, is a song that describes Junsu while standing at the forefront of popular music. It carries a very Pop-like beat which brings along the melody of the entire song and showcases the charm of Junsu’s voice. Undeniably, because it is a song from someone who deeply understands Junsu, “No Gain” is extremely special.
“I Don’t Like Love”, just like what I said a while back, is a song from which one can extract all the various colors possessed within Junsu’s voice. This song seems to be able to find the lost sensibility in the audience, so I think whenever later on he decides to talk about his vocal abilities, I might add it to the playlist for the ease of convenience.
Although “Even Though I Turn Around and Around” and “Fever” emits unique atmospheres, the songs I think makes the listeners pulse increase are “Intoxication” and “Lullaby”. If “Intoxication” is a sexy song that doesn’t lack sensation and tension, then “Lullaby” is a song that uses nostalgic sounds to achieve tension. Specifically, “Lullaby” is a song that uses retro sense as foundation to achieve the best sound structure; it really reminds the audience of the nostalgic wave within pop music. From the angle of completion, I think he spent a lot of thought on this song, and also makes his music talent evident.
The last song, “The Tree Covered in Dew”, is a product with excellent structure. If the album’s brilliant structure is to be able to mesmerize the audience, then this song best expresses a perfect conclusion. In such a song that possesses a strong pop-like feeling and slow tempo, Junsu lets the audience understand what “sensibility” means; I would like to call this “sensibility” as the best result from a combination between natural talent and perspiration. In addition, “Breath”, a song with a lot of explosive force that can be heard as an extension of “Mission”, and “Even Though You Already Know”, a piano-based melody that stimulates the gate of memory, are both worthwhile pieces.
To be honest, Tarantallegra is an album that took on a lot of risk. Because of the large variety of musics and explorations, it may be considered as a collection that is difficult to understand and interpret. However, please try to listen to each track slowly, and you will understand what stands behind all these attempts are Junsu’s firm attitude towards music and his effort to make music a medium of communication. What he has to offer cannot be found among regular artists. Junsu has his way of understanding and presenting music. We shouldn’t impose the phrase “idol evolution” onto Junsu, because since the dawn of time, he has been closer to an artist than an idol.
Tarantallegra is an outstanding work that proves why he became the most anticipated artist or the most praised main vocal: he never stopped evolving. Moving forward, I’m sure he will not stop such progress and will continue to give his best in order to express himself through music. Tarantallegra included everything. But the music abilities that Junsu can show us doesn’t end here.