Review: Rise by Taeyang

Image courtesy of YG Entertainment
Image courtesy of YG Entertainment

Okay, you knew this review was coming! Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m just a little bit in love with Taeyang’s voice. I own everything he’s ever released – singles, EPs, albums – and pretty much all that Big Bang has. And while I thought his style took a bit of turn for the crazy after Big Bang’s Alive was released – seriously, what was up with the weird giant devil horns made of his hair – I never stopped being a fan. It was a given that I’d let my inner fangirl come out and play while I reviewed Rise by Taeyang.

So needless to say, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this album – Taeyang’s second full-length solo album – since I originally heard about it. Okay, since it’s been 4 years since his last one, I was hoping for another solo album earlier but hey, I’ll take what I can get. And all that anticipation just grew stronger with the release of Ringa Linga last November. Hey, dude’s a fabulous dancer and that was a fun video.

Thankfully Taeyang didn’t disappoint. With Rise, Taeyang has cemented his position as one of the best R&B singers – if not the best – that Korea has to offer. Okay, I’m biased. First in that I prefer R&B to pop music. But more strongly because like I said, I’ve loved Taeyang almost as long as I’ve loved Big Bang, who are one of the few K-pop groups I listen to consistently (and have since their debut).

But Rise – and Taeyang – isn’t just R&B, although that’s the dominant genre. There’s some hip hop in there, as well as some dance to round out Taeyang’s best effort to-date. It’s also a much more adult sound than before and I think Taeyang has finally shed that innocent boy label he was stuck with. Both 새벽한시 1AM and 아름다워 Body will go a long way to help people see him as all grown up. Oh so nicely all grown up. ^^

Album review

Intro – Rise

The opening bars – but only the opening bars – of this song remind me very strongly of another song, except I can’t place what song it is. So this song drives me just a little nuts. But other than that, it’s a solid intro to the album. Plus, interestingly enough, it’s all in English

눈, 코, 입 Eyes, Nose, Lips

Ah dang, this is such a sad song. The little I understood of the lyrics (and more once I looked up the translation) made me want to give him a hug. Such a sad but sweet song about a lost love… it is songs like this one that truly showcase Taeyang’s fabulous voice. And let’s be honest, we all love hearing him sing songs about lost loves because it means there’s still a chance. I’m not even going to mention he’s topless in the video because I’m totally not influenced by his hot body… at all. ^^

Side note: okay, I am going to mention the music video. But seriously, how many K-pop music videos have that simple of a concept? Start with a close up and slowly pan out until he’s far in the background, a couple of dance moves and a bit of pyrotechnics and voila, it’s really all about Taeyang’s voice and gorgeous body. And it’s not just me that thinks he’s hot, dude is sexy!

새벽한시 1AM

This song makes me want to get up and dance. Or at least it does if one just pays attention to the music and not the lyrics because there’s a nice danceable beat. But of course, it’s Taeyang singing so you can’t help but listen to his voice – and therefore the lyrics – and dang, it’s a song about partying and 

Stay With Me (featuring G Dragon)

While I like this song, it was the hardest to review. It’s a nice song but even though I love both GD and Taeyang, this song didn’t really speak to me. It’s nice but doesn’t stand out for me.

아름다워 Body

This is just a fun song! No sadness, no lost love… just pure, unadulterated fun. The lyrics, the beat – it all comes together to put a smile on your face and get your ‘body’ moving on the dance floor (or in my living room). And like I said earlier, this song will help Taeyang any lingering doubts that he’s all grown up. “I got that body. You got that body. Now you and me let’s make somebody.”

링가링가 Ringa Linga

Let’s see – G Dragon’s lyrics and Taeyang’s voice together in a song… what’s not to love. I mean, seriously this is a killer song and my enjoyment of it hasn’t dimmed since it was first released. The music video also rocks – dang, Taeyang can move. This another song that makes me want to jump on the dance floor – always a favourite pastime of mine.

이게아닌데 This Ain’t It

This song almost made me cry the first time I heard it. Taeyang’s voice does such a fantastic job at conveying sadness that I didn’t even need to understand all the lyrics to feel the sadness. I wonder if that’s the reason so many of his songs are about lost loves? It’s a beautiful song for all its sadness and it’s a great vehicle for his powerful (and beautiful) voice. 

버리고 Let Go

I loved this song from the first time I heard it but once I understood the lyrics more, it just sunk into my soul. This song seriously speaks to me. I think I want to make this my new anthem. I’ve already started to memorize it so I can sing it in a noraebang that’s how much this song calls me.

Love You To Death

While I have a slight problem with the expression “love you to death” as it seems a little extreme, this is a solid song. And for all the serious declaration of the lyrics, it has a surprisingly upbeat feel to it. Like he’s positive this love with work out.

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed the album, there really wasn’t a bad song, although I certainly liked certain ones better. My only regret was there wasn’t a digital book with my iTunes purchase. So I had to go online to find the lyrics. Hopefully one comes with the physical album because, yeah, I’m just that much of a fan that I will buy it too. 

Since I bought the album a couple of days ago, it’s all I’ve been able to listen to, it’s that compelling. Okay, I’m a bit biased but it is a good album! Now if only I could decide which song I like best. ^^

What do you think of Taeyang’s latest album, Rise?

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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