It seems to be coming more popular as each year passes for an artist to release a Christmas album. Kelly Clarkson, Kylie Minogue and Gwen Stefani are just a few names who have released festive albums in the last couple of years. Now after a stellar year, Taeyeon has decided to release her first Christmas EP titled ‘This Christmas’. This may not be her first venture into the festive market (2015’s Dear Santa), this is her first as a solo artist.
While a lot of artists release Christmas albums that are their takes on the classics, it’s becoming more common to release original tracks. It’s not easy though to create a festive classic though. If it’s upbeat, it’s got to be festive enough without being too cheesy. If it’s a ballad, it’s got to have the emotional punch but still sound suitable wintery. And Taeyeon mostly accomplishes this on her mini album ‘This Christmas’.
Opening with the English track ‘The Magic of Christmas Time’, it’s a gorgeous piano led ballad. It’s got all the right references – snowflakes, reindeer and long lasting love. It conjures up all the right emotions for a Christmas song. Up next is the title track and lead single ‘This Christmas’. A stunning ballad, Taeyeon sounds phenomenal. Her soft and light tone throughout the verses and bridge are gorgeous. It also allows her to build vocally throughout which really gives the song that moment at the end. I love how simplistic the production is, it helps emphasis the beauty of the melody and Taeyeon’s voice. A Christmas classic – probably not but it’s a stunning ballad nonetheless.
‘Let It Snow’ is the first upbeat track on the album and probably is the weakest for me. It has elements of jazz and swing that is quite jarring to listen to. I feel like they thought adding in these elements would make it sound super festive but it just sounds muddled. They get it a lot better with ‘Candy Cane’ which is more of a traditional festive pop track. There are sleigh bells so what’s not to love. This definitely feels like they listen to the classic Mariah track ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ and used that as a blueprint for the production. And it works perfectly. This should go down as a festive classic in Korea and worldwide if it was in English.
‘Christmas Without You’ is more of a R&B ballad than a festive ballad. I get the feeling that this was an existing song that just had some lyrics re-written. It’s cute but not very festive. And now we’re onto my favourite track of the album ‘Shhhh’. From the very first note, I knew that this was the one. It starts off nice and slow, Taeyeon’s voice as soft as silk with a bit of flirtation in her tone. This is her ‘Santa Baby’ and honestly, she absolutely sleighs (lol) this more sultry, seductive festive bop. I really wish this had been the lead single but I’m guessing it’s too risqué for conservative Korea. I absolutely love it though. The album closes with ‘I’m All Ears’ which is another mid-tempo but for me, it’s the best of the ‘ballads’. Taeyeon really gets to showcase her range and ability here – but it’s the softer moments that really resonate with me. She really is the best vocalist in Korea. There is such a sincerity to her voice on this track, it’s impossible to not fall in love with this song.
As far as Christmas albums go, it’s a pretty solid effort from Taeyeon. I certainly prefer it over her last festive album ‘Dear Santa’. Not all the songs work but when she gets it right, she really gets it right. I will take 5 out of 7 songs from this which is a pretty great success ratio for an album of original Christmas songs. Now if only Taeyeon would come to the UK for a festive concert.