Within the last month, Taemin has been super busy by being part of four different music releases (including today’s comeback). We first saw him in his 2 KIDS pre-release track, dropping in preparation for today’s comeback. His second release was 100, the first pre-release single of SuperM’s upcoming end-of-September comeback. We saw him again in Tiger Inside, serving as the second SuperM pre-release track which just dropped last week. And now, we find ourselves tuning in with his fourth release – the title track Criminal and his third Korean studio album, Never Gonna Dance Again.
I am just going to get right to the point. Taemin killed his comeback. And this comment is simply based on just one listen to Criminal. He tackles the synthwave genre, a genre that is pretty much new in KPOP as far as I can remember (and one that I am going to need to search up). The song’s instrumental is rather consistent, but there is still a lot going on. I love the slight tick up in energy that the chorus gives up (relative to the verses). It is small, but its impact is quite large. But the most important detail with this synthwave instrumental is that is compliments Taemin’s vocals. He sings rather low and seductively at the start and it slowly builds ever so slightly as the song progresses along, before his vocals climaxes (i.e. gets louder) after the ‘Destroy My More‘ line at the end of the bridge and we get some ad-libs for the final chorus. These pairings of vocals and instrumental just have so much chemistry with one another, creating a sensual and seductive atmosphere that I just want to continue to replay. To me, the best part of the song has to be his vocal climb during the verses. Once again, it is small effect, but it has such a large impact. It just leaves me in awe and it stuns me when I replay the song (even though I know it is coming). The ‘La La La La‘ was also another strong, suspenseful part of the song that I also love. Overall, Criminal is artistic, aesthetic and plays with Taemin’s strengths.
The music video of Criminal looks so good. Based on the lyrics, the song is about wanting to escape an relationship as it torturing oneself. But the more you want to leave, the more you want to stay. It is a similar concept to Stockholm Syndrome, which is where the victim of a kidnapping or hostage situation feels trust, affection and need for the captor to be in their life post-crime in order to survive. It is very interesting to see him play that out in lyrics. But it is very captivating to watch him be tortured throughout the music video. And we don’t actually see the explicit torture that whoever is inflicting upon him. Rather, we see Taemin’s self torture of wanting leave (and even contemplating death at some points) but is unable to do so in the final seconds because of his need for this relationship. His acting is so good and the set design is really stunning.
The music video shows me enough of the choreography to make write this part of the review. And as per my past reviews for Taemin’s choreography, this one is equally as good. I really liked the bounded wrists at the start, showing us that captive situation. We then see him take it off effortlessly before doing to the ‘good stuff’ in this routine, where we see him show off his performance skills. The best part of the choreography has to be the bridge of the song, where the dancer’s engulf him with their hands, seemingly making it look like he is enjoying the euphoria of returning to the relationship.
Song – 10/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 10/10