Tarantallegra, released on 5.14.12, is XIA (Kim Junsu of JYJ)’s 1st album.
The album starts off with the intro 「Sunset」 which was used in the teaser and at the beginning of the MV for Tarantallegra. It has a dramatic orchestra and electronica instrumental that immediately gives off the feeling of what the album will be like.
「Tarantallegra (feat. Flowsik of Aziatix)」 is the title song and begins with a dynamic percussion and orchestra. I really do not like Flowsik’s lines, I would’ve done well without them, especially because it just sounds oddly out of place. He says, “What music will you listen to?” over and over again until Junsu comes in with quick paced lines. The chorus is simple as he just sings “tarantallegra” over and over again with autotune. Later on in the second verse, there’s some autotune added as well.
「Set Me Free (feat. Bizzy)」 is a synthesizer beat coupled with another guest rapper as Junsu sings along to the tune of the instrumental. It’s a bit like a club song, with the synthesizer pretty much overpowering Junsu’s vocals and the pacing of the lyrics is quick as he sings, “Set me free, set set me free.” There’s a bit of autotune used in the chorus.
Next up is 「No Gain」, which begins with a melancholy piano and percussion beat, classic of a R&B ballad (?). Junsu sings with the same melancholy in his vocals as he sings with a medium pace together with the instrumental. There’s a bit of autotune used in the second half of the song. The chorus is more upbeat as he sings in an almost breathy tone. Electronica does come in later.
「사랑이 싫다구요 (I Don’t Like Love)」 is the theme song for Rooftop Prince, which JYJ groupmate Park Yoochun stars in. It has a beautiful orchestra instrumental as Junsu sings in a low, husky key. His vocals are emotional and hit just the right notes when needed, creating the perfect mood and I can imagine the kind of scene it would be used in in Rooftop Prince (which I’m watching. It’s over this week, ah!)
「돌고 돌아도 (Around and Around)」 is a bit similar to 사랑이 싫다구요 because of its use of a gentle and harmonized orchestra coupled with Junsu’s melancholic, but low and husky vocals carrying the song. It gives me a wintery feeling for some reason. A female back up vocal comes in later, making the song sound nice and airy as the orchestra creates a dynamic finish.
「Intoxication」 is the Korean version of his Japanese song of the same title. Oh boy. It’s a heated song and it’s a different rendition of the original Japanese version. It’s still about sex and stuff, with the instrumental being more of a harp (?) and guitar instead of the orchestra that was in the original. Still awkward and masochistic.
A fast violin (?) orchestra coupled with electronica make up 「Breath (feat. Double K)」 as Double K introduces the song with, “Yea, you know we’re messed up girl.” Junsu then comes in with really quick paced vocals as he sings quickly along with the instrumental. The bridge and chorus slows down a little, but it’s still pretty medium paced.
「알면서도 (Though I Already Know)」 is another melancholic ballad, this time with a gentle solo piano coupled with Junsu’s soft low vocals. Some orchestra comes in later to build up the atmosphere of the song as Junsu himself also increases his vocal volume. This is an excellent song to show off Junsu’s vocal abilities.
「Lullaby (feat. Gaeko of Dynamic Duo)」 begins with a combination of orchestra and a bit of electronica. In the beginning, it sounded like a child was making those noises for some reason. Junsu’s vocals are gentle and breathy, going along with the title Lullaby. This is a sweet song that feels like its gently lulling you to sleep despite the strong vocal keys since it’s mostly due to the mood of the song that gives me that feeling. Okay, though as soon as that rap comes in, I completely get turned off, otherwise “wake up”.
「Fever」 is a heavy electronica and synthesizer song that causes a “feverish”ness to it, especially with the way that Junsu sings in this song. There’s a slight sultriness to his vocals as he sings in a midtempo pace. Could also definitely be a club song.
Ending the album appropriately is 「이슬을 머금은 나무 (Dew Laden Tree)」, which is another orchestra ballad, haha. What comes to mind is a song by BoA that was also a ballad with a similar title (can’t remember it right now), but I think of it when I hear this song coupled with the title. The song has a nice laidback feeling to it while still conveying the right emotion, which is perfect to end the album (with good feelings).
This album was different, haha. I like how Junsu did something totally different from what JYJ, or even DBSK, has done for this album. Tarantallegra was really something else (the MV is also quite amazing) and this album has a lot of good songs, although most of the songs can be grouped off into similar categories after a while.