After more than eight years of leading Girls’ Generation to a mania-level of popularity, Taeyeon is the outfit’s first member to embark on full-fledged solo promotions with her debut EP titled I. The powerhouse vocalist can consider it a success with the set topping Billboard‘s World Albums chart and landing at No. 5 on Heatseekers Albums.
Released on Wednesday, Oct. 7, I sells 2,000 copies in its first tracking week with just two days of sales. It not only gives Taeyeon her first No. 1 on a U.S.-based Billboard chart for World Albums, but also makes her the first Girls’ Generation member to do so. I is also the highest-charting K-pop album on Heatseekers this year.
The EP’s title track strips away the peppy-pop Girls’ Generation is known for in place of a lush, acoustic-leaning pop-rock cut that recalls some of Taylor Swift‘s material from her last country album, the somewhat-poppy Red — namely, the euphoric album opener “State of Grace.” Taey-lor Swift, anyone?
But, admittedly, Tay likely wouldn’t be able to nail a vocal performance like this one. Taeyeon belts for her life on the final chorus while demonstrating restraint by emoting through the earlier sections with a standout coming as a choir, Taeyeon and featured rapper Verbal Jint blend as one on the first pre-chorus.
Meanwhile, the accompanying music video seems to be a commentary on the starlet balancing her professional life and personal freedom. Shot in New Zealand, the gorgeous vid sees Tae playing two characters: a waitress in a pub who gets fed up with her boss and sets off the explore the countryside, and a carefree woman roaming around the beach. The two sides meet at the end of the visual as the name of the EP is flashed across the screen, possibly symbolizing how the record reckons her personal musical interest into her career.
A fun chart fact: Taeyeon joins a small group of K-pop stars who have topped World Albums as both a soloist and with their groups. She’s the only female in the trio that includes Jonghyun of SHINee (who topped with both SHINee’s Why So Serious?: The Misconceptions of Me in May 2013 and then this year with his solo EP Base) and CNBLUE‘s lead singer Jung Yong Hwa (who also initially topped in 2013 with CNBLUE’s Re:Blue in February and later in 2015 with his solo debut LP One Fine Day).
“I” has continuously sold well in Taeyeon’s native Korea, topping the domestic digital charts for days since its release. Meanwhile, its music video has already racked up more than 10 million views.