[single review] Henry’s Trap feat. Taemin and Kyuhyun

I am a sucker for the piano and the falsetto, so I was all a-tingle when I heard the beginning of Trap. Trap is a bit of an anomaly for SM– when SM debuts acts, they tend to go for upbeat and epic. Yet, Henry’s debut Korean single is a sad, midtempo dance; not quite memorable, but not quite forgettable. It sets up the rest of the album quite nicely, a little melancholy and plaintive, and definitely very Henry, using the synths that he favors (see 表白, the song he wrote and sang himself).

Henry’s voice still sounds preternaturally young; his opening few lines and falsetto are absolutely magical. Yet, as the song goes on, it begins to show strains and cracks as sings higher notes (without going into falsetto). The chorus is extremely boring, as he sings mostly straight without giving much inflection. That’s a problem with most of the song, actually. The first verse was so finely nuanced but it seems that he got progressively lazy in paying attention to the details.

Taemin, oh Taemin. When he enters in the second verse, he steals the show. He sounds even more beautiful and smoother than Henry in the first verse. This is the first time I’ve heard his voice fit so well with the song, the first time that I’ve felt Taemin’s emotions behind the song. However, Taemin’s vocalizations afterwards are weak and unnecessary. After the second verse, Taemin’s voice is added to the chorus.

Kyuhyun’s little falsetto interlude duet with Henry was not needed as Henry already has quite an adept falsetto. However, after that interlude, Kyuhyun’s voice is added to the chorus’ beginning. Thank the lord. Kyuhyun makes everything better– if only they stuck in his voice earlier and made it louder. In fact, if only they made Taemin sing the entire song with Kyuhyun falsetto-ing and doing the chorus. If only.

Taemin was the surprise in the cereal box. The way he sounds in this song– honeyed, full, smooth– is nothing I’ve heard from the other SHINee members. If he could sound like this all the time, Jonghyun and Onew would have serious competition. This then leads me to wonder why Taemin is so busy within SM; first SM The Performance, then BoA’s music video, We Got Married, and now featuring on Henry’s single. What’s happening to Onew nowadays? What about Jonghyun?

Just a few notes on Henry’s live– despite the open top, Henry’s piano in this performance is not live, which is quite sad since Henry is an okay pianist. The backing vocals are also very heavy, so Henry’s singing performance was not great, but it was passable. Like any other performance, Kyuhyun and Taemin sang like the pros they are. Yet, Henry does not have a good stage presence; this is Henry’s debut single, but in the end, my eyes are glued to Taemin and Kyuhyun.

My predictions are scarily becoming truth, 2013: Year of Taemin. Forget about Henry.

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9 thoughts on “[single review] Henry’s Trap feat. Taemin and Kyuhyun

  1. couldn’t agree more. i felt like kyu and taemin totally stole the entire show. i had no idea kyuhyun could sing that high O.O
    i cant help but wonder if onew is studying for another degree or something behind our backs and taemin thus has the most educational free time than the rest of shinee. (iono, is he even still in high school?) i mean at least we know jonghyun is still alive and trolling [and doing nothing].

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  5. I know I came in late. Reading your review, now I realize music taste could be very biased and subjective. While i agree with other reviewers saying Kyuhyun’s presence is redundant musically to the entire song, you seem to give more credits to his small part in the song than the main soloist. Being a classical music fan all my life until CNBlue and Henry’s music drew my attention to Kpop, I’ve listened to Kpop and watched many live performances of many notable Kpop bands and solo singers. I found many Kpop fans have a very particular (or biased, to say more precisely) taste appreciating how solo vocalists should perform on stage. While many online Kpop fans raved about the voice quality of many well known Kpop solo singers like Kyuhyun, I have to admit that this particular taste is simply not my type and doesn’t get me into Kpop at all. Given choice, I’d rather stay loyal to Italian opera singing than sway to these Kpop soloists. Not to offend many Kpop fans. To me, their voice quality is substandard compared with classical music singers but not unique enough to stand out and distinguish from classical singing. At the end, music is all about entertaining audience. Pop singer’s voice doesn’t have to be smooth or warm without crack in order to appeal to listeners. Bon Jovi and Adele are good examples. For me, pop music (here I’m also including R&B, Rock, Ballad, Hip Hop, Rap, Indie, jazz, etc.) has to be catchy and unique enough to distinguish from classical music. To this point, I think Henry’s solo debut made it there. Being formally trained for classical piano for many years, I’m very puzzled where you got that idea Henry is just an “ok” pianist. I also watched his other piano performances and improvisations including classical pieces like Chopin. I’m sure to say his piano skills and touch are absolutely outstanding among Kpop musicians.

    • first of all, you raise the valid point– enjoying music– enjoying ANYTHING is subjective. I am not trying to convert anyone to my beliefs but tell it as I hear it, and you are free to dispute or agree. So, honestly, great, you have your opinion that you like Henry’s voice and I have my own opinion that I’m neutral about it.

      perhaps his piano skills are outstanding amongst kpop idols, but that doesn’t mean much as most kpop idols aren’t classically trained pianists anyway. Here’s my overall view: Henry is gifted technically but he lacks the finer attention to detail because he focuses on the drama too much– it’s all banging or it’s all affected emotions. His tone is always jarring, especially noticeable when he plays the violin. There are so many advanced amateurs like him, they can reach every note and they can “feel” the music but they have little to no knowledge analytically of the music they are playing and as such, everything they do is just based on their “feelings” and they have very little conscious choice. Music is as much about feeling the emotions and making the logical choices. Therefore, whenever I listen to his music, it’s always one-layer while with incredibly good pianists you feel all the complexities of harmony and Henry is always a glittering mess. Sure, shiny at first but haphazardly scattered on further inspection. Henry went to music school, but he went to Berklee for composition, which is very different than going to NEC for composition or piano/violin performance.

      I have also been classically trained in piano for over 16 years, currently still take lessons and perform, and I have developed an incredibly good sense of piano and pianists. I listen to classical music regularly (not just “Chopin”) and am a frequent attender of concerts. Thus, I have an extensive knowledge of repertoire and since Henry likes to play hammy pieces, I’ve heard them over and over again, played by established concert pianists. I know what good recordings sound like, and Henry can’t even come close. Try comparing them sometime, while following along with the score. Overall, while I am not a professional or conservatory student, I would characterize myself as extremely adept at being able to judge pianists.

      That being said, you are free to have your own opinion. I am explaining my position and the experience I bring to back it up.. you can take it or leave it.. and it doesn’t matter one jot to me what you choose.

      Michelle

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