TAEYANG is making 2023 the year he’s returning in full force. Despite 17 years of being a K-pop idol on his belt, the Big Bang member has been notably less active in the last few years, of course in part due to the completion of his mandatory military duties. So when he released ‘Vibe’ with Jimin at the start of the year, it’s no surprise that his promise of more new music to come was met with high expectations—not from just his fans, but the industry as a whole.
And surely he delivered. With a concise six-track EP, TAEYANG seems to have decided that it’s finally time he comes Down to Earth—with an album that sprung deep from the throes of his heart. All that was left to do then, was to unpack each track off the 21-minute package, a task we gladly took on. Below, the five takeaways from Down to Earth, his newly-released album.
The album melds a trove of the musical influences he grew up with
Throughout the six tracks, there were clear references to the ‘80s and ‘90s of South Korean music, something most obviously achieved through the title track ‘Seed’ and ‘Inspiration’. Whilst both reflect opposing moods—the former being an honest excavation of his feelings compared to the latter’s more uplifting, lilting quality—there’s a definitive attempt to infuse and reinterpret the sounds he grew up with in a contemporary way. Apart from older K-pop influences, there are also instantly recognisable touches of R&B, soul and trap across the rest of the album such as in ‘Shoong’ and ‘Reason’.
More collaborations might easily be on the way
With a total of four collaborative tracks on his album—it seems there’s a high likelihood that we can expect other features to come in the near future. Although the entirety of Down to Earth is already with us, TAEYANG’s return to the production studio certainly heralds the possibility that he might feature on other artists’ albums and songs. After all, with Jimin, Lisa and Beenzino already struck off the list, who says there can’t be more?
TAEYANG’s dance era is far from over
From ‘Vibe’ with BTS’s Jimin to ‘Shoong’ with Lisa of Blackpink, his music video releases are a definitive signal that the Big Bang member can still earn cred for his rhythmic dance moves on stage. With powerful yet wonderfully controlled choreographies, he holds his own alongside the two younger idols—who are also known as some of the best performers in K-pop. The other thing he’s owning? All those TikTok dance challenges he’s been delivering with the rest of the K-pop industry from the girls of Le Sserafim to Seventeen.
He’s still as romantic as ever
If you know TAEYANG, you probably know of his classic ballads such as ‘Eyes, Nose, Lips’ and ‘Wedding Dress’—notably purported to have been loving dedications to his wife, Min Hyo-rin. And those aren’t his only ones that sing of his deep emotions for her. In Down to Earth, ‘Reason’ sits as the most obvious ode to romance: a sweet, dreamy melody delivered through soulful instrumentals and warm lyrics.
He isn’t afraid to experiment with new sounds—but he’s also extremely aware of where his true strength lies
The album is a breath of fresh air. Not just because it attempts to modernly interpret various musical influences, but because there’s something so precious about an artist knowing his own strengths and attempting to showcase that without frills. Whilst it undeniably comes with its own trove of buzzy collaborations, Down to Earth pays avid attention to TAEYANG’s true prowess: his emotional, melodic voice. It’s something one feels instantly upon a listen of the title track ‘Seed’, which also seems like an unmistakeable ode to the fans who have always been metaphorically associated with flower roads, trees and forces of nature in Big Bang’s discographies.