It’s been quite a while since we’ve been treated to the vocal stylings of SM the Ballad, but after a four-year hiatus, S.M. Entertainment’s inter-group unit project is returning for a February comeback with the album “Breath.”
As one might have expected, given the previous lineup’s inclusion of TRAX’s Jay and the presence of EXO, the roster has significantly changed.
SHINee’s Jonghyun is the only returning member from the original four-piece group, and as replacements, f(x)’s Krystal, Girls Generation’s Taeyeon, EXO’s Chen, TVXQ’s Changmin, Zhang Li Yin, and Super Junior-M’s Zhou Mi have joined, which represents nearly all of the groups technically active under SM Entertainment.
Key differences in promotions this time around center on the the title track “Breath,” which will be performed in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese by different pairs of SM artists. Chen and Zhang Li-yin take the Chinese version; Changmin and Krystal take the Japanese version; Jonghyun and Taeyeon will perform the Korean version as well as promote the track on music shows.
The rest of the songs on the album will be a combination of duets and solos by Taeyeon, Chen, Jonghyun, Krystal, Yesung, and Zhou Mi. Unlike previous album Miss You, there will not be a full track that features all of the members.
“Breath ” (Taeyeon and Jonghyun)
“Blind” (Yesung solo)
“Set Me Free” (Taeyeon solo)
“One Day” (Jonghyun and Chen)
“When I Was When U Were” (Krystal and Chen)
“Blind” (Yesung solo) Japanese Ver.
“Blind” (Zhou Mi solo) Chinese Ver.
“Breath” (Chen and Zhang Li Yin) Chinese Ver.
“Breath” (Changmin and Krystal) Japanese Ver.
For this reason, Breath appears more like a compilation album featuring SM Entertainment’s vocal line rather than a true group project, but the participation of more idols has been a wish for many fans in the group’s hiatus. It may be a pipe dream to expect another “Hot Times” from this reincarnation, but it will serve its purpose in highlighting the many talented voices in the company.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBfcWmt9JHM]
And perhaps the absence of a group track will prevent the songs from becoming a contest in which the members compete to oversing each other, which “Hot Times,” while great, admittedly devolved into once live performances began.
There is, of course, room for complaints. Former member Jino is absent; Kyuhyun has been mysteriously “rotated out;” Yesung is in the army and won’t be able to promote; and for fans of individual groups, there may be some protests to some of the roster choices.
Luna, for example, is the most logical representative for f(x) instead of Krystal, but this may sum up to be more of a popularity play by SM than a skill-based one. This is also suggested by some of the choices in singing pairs for title track “Breath” across versions.
But in a group like SM the Ballad, a project that was developed to showcase powerhouse vocals, was popularity ever really that important? If that was the case, Jino would have never received the chance to debut via the group. Sure, no one’s assuming that SM didn’t want to make money with the venture, but wasn’t there a larger focus on sheer skill and talent rather than on group faces and popular names?
While there’s a lot of potential for cynicism, one can only hope that the music offered up on the new album provides as much excitement as songs like “Hot Times” did. The R&B-ballad reputation of the group is really the core of this project, and if that stays, I’m sure the fans will stay also.
Be on the lookout for new material from SM the Ballad starting on February 10th and television promotions on February 13th!
Are there any tracks or new members that you’re excited about with SM the Ballad 2.0, or have the tactical choices this time around spoiled your fun? Or, do you just want to speculate about where Jino is? Let us know in the comments below!