Spring is upon us, which means its seasonally appropriate to be inundated with sweet songs about budding love accompanied by shy smiles into flowers. Saccharine spring releases are nearly compulsory at this point, which is why its no surprise that SM Entertainment chose Baekhyun for the latest SM Station Season 2 installment, Take You Home.
With SM Station, SM Entertainment has the chance to slowly introduce their artists as soloists in a way theyve never done before. Exos Baekhyun fits the bill perfectly as an artist who has the vocal capabilities and popularity to carry a solo, but he needs time to find his niche without distracting from group activities and thats where SM Station comes in handy. In Take You Home SM and Baekhyun have honed in on a style that suits Baekhyuns musicality and marketed personality. He has the charm and the vocal ability to carry what otherwise may have been a cheesy release with confident grace; and with his second solo single, he doesnt disappoint.
In Take You Home Baekhyun takes on the role of an admirer who watches the object of his affections go through heartbreak. He isnt the one she loves, but he wants to comfort and reassure her all the same.
I’m not the one that’s yours,
but even if I can’t hold you right now,
who can protect you and stay by your side.
There is some element of the nice guy whos been friend-zoned in the lyrics. Baekhyun isnt going to make his move just yet he understands her heart isnt ready but he wants her to keep an eye on him. Maybe someday, shell realize that hes the kind of man who can support her and love her the way she deserves. A part of me wants to call foul on the lyrics, because the narrative of the nice guy has been over-glorified and feeds into a larger narrative of a man deserving a womans affections simply because hes been patient. However, the way Baekhyun sings the song is too sweet, to genuine, to really feel that Take You Home is anything more than an honest confession of support with a hint of cliched pining.
In the MV, we watch Baekhyun follow a woman around her apartment. She cant see him, but he watches her intently. He observes the dejected slump of her shoulders, and tries to make her appreciate the scent of the flowers before her; and he lingers by her side even when she is blind to his infatuation. Though shes moping, Baekhyun smiles at her encouragingly, letting her take her time to warm up to his invisible presence. Then, when he thinks shes ready, he snaps her out of her loneliness and encourages her to dance with him. Its silly, cute, and oh so cliche, but Baekhyun has the charisma to make it work.
Theres a brief moment of happiness before Baekhyuns daydream ends, and the MV closes with him alone, clutching the flower he admired in place of the woman and the postcard she once held in her hands. In the end, the MV was Baekhyuns own daydream his own fantasy that if he stood by her side long enough, she would smile at him the way hes always imagined. Thats not really how things work out, and maybe a part of Baekhyun realizes that, but hes willing to stand by her side regardless.
Musically,Take You Home echoes the mid-tempo sweetness that made Dream so successful. Only instead of having a female partner like Suzy to tackle the higher notes, Baekhyun covers both ranges with a surprising finesse. Ive always been a little irked with how SM forces the powerful high notes on Baekhyun when his vocal capabilities are not the best at supporting them. His higher range is much more comfortable in a soft falsetto which, thankfully, is exactly what Take You Home builds to. Thusly, Baekhyun can keep his vocals soft, allowing the naturally breathiness of his tone to shine through.
I cant speak to how much post-production went into his vocals, but Take You Home sounds comfortable for Baekhyun it sounds like a good fit. And in that comfort, we can hear him clearly sing with his natural charm, with emotion as opposed to forced dynamics. Theres cheekiness in the lows of the chorus, and a pleasant balance of longing and sweetness in the higher notes. Baekhyuns voice despite what SM tries to market sounds best in the fuller, low ranges than in the higher ones, and Take You Home provides plenty of such moments. The lowest notes at the tail end of the chorus hit the spot so nicely that they unintentionally become the hook of the track, and its those lines that are sung with the most convincing sentiment.
Overall, Baekhyun may not be completely ready for a solo career just yet, but with Take You Home SM have shown that they in some way understand the strengths of Baekhyuns musicality. More than anything, theyve demonstrated that his tendency to over-act is best suited to sweet smiles and adoring gazes accompanied by charming lyrics. Take You Home makes for a seasonally appropriate release that may not bring anyone new into Baekhyuns nor Exos fandom, but will certainly fare well with his fans. In that sense, Id label the release another success for SM Station.
(YouTube. Lyrics via Kpopviral. Images via SM Entertainment.)
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