Song Review: Taeyang – Vibe (ft. Jimin)

Taeyang - Vibe (ft. Jimin)Some songs arrive with fanfare even before a single preview has dropped. Vibe represents not only the long-awaited return of Bigbang’s Taeyang, but a colossal meeting of two K-pop generations. During the early 2010’s, Bigbang helped construct the international crossroads that made K-pop such a global success. Years later, BTS paved those roads in platinum, redefining that same global success for a new generation. As representatives of these two titans, Taeyang and Jimin make headlines upon their names alone.

With such weighty underpinnings, it’s hard to imagine Vibe living up to expectations. Part of me came into this project fearing the worst. After all, the idea of “vibe” in pop music has come to represent a lack of ambition that can be quite frustrating. But though this may sound silly, the song is a pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect it to be as groovy as it is, and I certainly didn’t anticipate it drawing so heavily upon elements of new jack swing.

These are two of the most recognizable K-pop voices of the last decade, and Vibe is smart to give them lengthy solo spotlights. Taeyang remains unbeatable, opening the track with effortless charisma and control. His vocal drives the introduction before the beat drops, casting a beguiling tone that instantly pulls us in. From here, Vibe gradually constructs a brittle funk groove driven by splashes of rhythm guitar and a swinging snare. The scope of this percussion is incredibly refreshing. We’ve gotten so used to skeletal hi-hats thrown over an entire track that we’ve forgotten how powerful the middle range can be. Vibe’s instrumental utilizes a full spectrum, including a ton of empty space.

If anything, the song could stand to develop further. Like so many modern pop tracks, it’s too short. Just as the final hook grits its teeth and delivers extra texture, Vibe sputters to a halt. The track is begging for a climactic finish – a dance breakdown that sends us off on a high and forces the replay button. But while it’s not the insta-classic it could have been, I’m impressed by the overall direction and the caliber of star power on display.

Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

Grade: B+

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