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  • Cy White

U-KNOW: Reality Show


I will say this about Yunho (forgive me, U-KNOW Yunho). His voice has aged like he has—fine wine. Reality Show highlights that 20 years of vocal growth quite well. He doesn’t ask too much of his voice, which means while he’s not going to blow out your speakers, he takes what he has and does so much with it. Yunhno has opened his voice to the possibility of more intricate melisma, which means his improvisation is more confident, as are his higher register and belting notes.

That being said, in true SM fashion, when they lean into a concept, every aspect of that concept is milked for everything its worth. That includes composition choices that limit the overall project from really being anything truly interesting. There are always intriguing moments (and usually those are within individual songs), as in the complete tonal shift at the pre-chorus and chorus of “Vuja De.” What it lacks in anything particularly nuanced, it makes up for with the warmth in Yunho’s voice.

Reality Show ends with the blessedly mature and surprisingly gorgeous nod to jazz crooners, “Curtain.” TVXQ has been riding the “big band” and “jazz-pop” trend for the last several years. While Reality Show mostly goes for camp more than serious musicality, this taste of pure vocal and composition is a pleasant way to pay honest homage to the more ostentatious influences of the genre.

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