Because finals are creeping up and school is closing up, it may be a while before I get to painstakingly review Why So Serious. Therefore, in order to review the single, “Why So Serious?”, I recorded around 20 minutes of some laughing and some silence and some jabbing at Taemin. Enjoy.
Last night, a thunderstorm blew into SHINee World– rumors of a possible Onew-Jung Ah (After School) couple. Here are the facts, and following are the photos:
- Onew and Jung Ah were photographed exiting a restaurant and sitting inside a car together.
- both agencies deny this relationship. From Pledis: “The two are close as senior and junior. They’ve had meals together for a long time and we′ve known the two are close.” From SM: “This is an old rumor and it’s not the truth. We’ve known the two to be close friends.”
- Onew has cited Jung Ah as his ideal type in 2010.
- They tweet each other on Twitter.
Here are the rumors:
- they’ve been dating for a year already.
- Jung Ah has visited Onew’s dressing room during the SHINee World tour and later they were spotted holding hands, wearing couple bracelets.
- they were on a date in Apgujeong recently without any disguise; they usually have quick dates in Jung Ah’s car.
- Onew and Jung Ah had previously been spotted ‘linking arms’ at a movie theater.
My personal take on the rumors– with the Jonghyun-SSK scandal, it is quite safe to say that all the SHINee members know they are under watch 24/7 in public, and I doubt Onew would do something as stupid as having dates in public without disguising himself. If I remember correctly, a patch of After School members had visited SHINee to support them in their solo concert; so, Jung Ah may have visited Onew’s dressing room, but the story is incomplete. Were they alone? Was it a long visit? Or was it one of those “congratulations”, bow many times, and leave? Moreover, apparently the holding hands scandal was caused by a user on Twitter who wanted to stir up drama.
Whether they are actually dating or not, I actually do believe that they have gone on at least one date. Especially since Jonghyun confessed that SSK was his ideal type, and then later was revealed to actually be dating her– Jung Ah is no Emma Watson, so I do not think Onew would have any trouble securing a meeting with her and possibly going out on a date with her. Of course, the more salient question is, are they dating now? Perhaps. If they are, I doubt they are meeting regularly now, because Dream Girl promotions are taking up the bulk of Onew’s time.
However, what actually surprised me the most is that Onew seems to still have serious acne. It is naive of me to think money can cure everything, but really, money can cure most acne. Perhaps it is easier and cheaper to put on makeup than invest in intensive care for Onew’s skin. It pains me when I see that he still looks like that underneath the concealer, because acne-friendly or not, concealer still inhibits the pores’ ability to breathe and prevents acne from healing properly and as fast as possible.
The second thing that irked me was Onew’s smoking. Given the prevalence of smoking in South Korea among men is 50%, I am not surprised that Onew is another statistic. Yet, there is something personally disgusting to me about smoking, even though many studies have shown electronic cigarettes do not have the smell or the heavy dose of carcinogens that conventional cigarettes have. Onew is a singer by trade, and smoking away his signature smooth voice signals a lapse of responsibility to me. Perhaps he only occasionally partakes, perhaps. Who knows? All I know is that to me, smoking is disgusting. Please note that this is not a judgment on Onew, saying that he is a bad person because he smokes. Some people prefer the dark and mysterious type, and in the same way, some people prefer non-smokers.
While it is refreshing to see a more human side of idols, Onew has been slipping up too much lately. To this end, I hope everything is all right with Lee Jinki; that rumors of his continuing depression are false. I have no doubt S.M. will deal strictly with Onew this time around, from flipping off Jonghyun, a ‘major’ dating scandal, not putting on makeup adequately when in public, and smoking an electronic cigarette. If I was Lee Sooman, I would have not second qualms about disciplining Onew proportionately, because the image is a huge part of kpop. kpop is all about the complete package, and if one element is ruined, the other parts are in jeopardy, and the other parts include the other SHINee members. Though these are all Onew’s own actions, the other members will still be negatively impacted by his actions. Though Onew has done nothing wrong, his lack of discretion has an impact beyond himself, so I hope he can learn this lesson well and continue being the smiling face that we have come to support.
BONUS SHINee members with acne: Continue reading
Fire is uncomfortable. Traditionally, jpop is on a higher pitch than kpop, but this song is so obviously out of everyone but Jonghyun and Onew’s comfort zones. Though Minho sounds quite all right in the track itself, I am sure this is more due to the light-fingered skills of the Japanese sound mixers. I would not be surprised if this song was actually pitch-shifted. Overall, this song does not offer anything new; it sounds like a B-side to 1000 Years. Except 1000 Years was already a B-side, so Fire is a B-side to a B-side (does that make it a C-side?). It is possible the EMI wants to milk SHINee’s youthfulness by giving them predominantly high songs, but Beautiful from SHINee’s Chapter 1. Dream Girl — The Misconceptions of You is a similarly paced ballad that exercises the lower ranges of SHINee, and still seals in SHINee’s youthful aura very well.
The video feels a bit forced, especially at the end with the clapping. Fire is too uptempo and the clapping too awkwardly slow. Nonetheless, the concept is sweet, and there are quite a few heart-squeeze moments. However, compared to Tohoshinki’s I Know, released at around the same time, it is not as visually interesting and intricate.
As for fashion, it also feels disappointing for Key to be the only one in blonde; usually in Japan, Korean groups tone it down and mostly everyone goes down to shades of black and demure shades of dark brown, as in Dazzling Girl. Taemin looks especially handsome in his black hair.
As 17 March 2013, Fire is lacking in live performances, and so it seems like a release “just because.” This is especially a disappointment, as their sunbaes Tohoshinki have released some of their best material in Japan, while SHINee’s stronger material undoubtedly is Korean. As seen with the release of Dream Girl, SHINee’s voices have been maturing; it is also not a coincidence that two member Tohoshinki’s best material in Japan is their ballads. SHINee’s improved voices present too good of an opportunity to miss, and EMI should be hot on their heels on wrangling a ballad that can match SHINee’s capabilities much better.
I hope you are all as excited as I am to analyze the SHINee’s Dream Girl comeback. I will split this review into four main parts: album, music video, lives, and overall assessment. Let’s get on it.
(1) Spoiler. This song begins with the opening synth to Sherlock. As SHINee has said, Dream Girl: The Misconceptions of You should be viewed as a continuation of Sherlock. Moreover, this introduction mentions each song in the album; establishing a very clear connection between Sherlock and Dream Girl. In fact, the instrumentation used on this track is not unlike Sherlock, except a little lower and sultry. SHINee is definitely back but it is definitely in a more understated, sexier fashion. Case in point, we have wonderful chants of mostly Jonghyun singing “Tonight, tonight, tonight…” at the end of the song. In fact, this song– verses and chorus– is mostly dominated by Jonghyun’s voice. The biggest disappointment is this track is Key. There are times he does sound lovely, but often the endings of his singing parts stick out and seem largely unfinished compared to the sultry croonings of Onew and Jonghyun, and yes, even Taemin.
(2) Dream Girl. Praise lord that this is not ”acid electro funk,” as described to the music critics who received a preview of Dream Girl before it officially released. This is just electro funk. If it were “acid,” it would be much more sharper and higher, and the electro part of the song would not be as full. Think Dream Girl on heroine and slowly wasting away but crying out for more to feed an addiction; now that would be “acid electro funk.”
Dream Girl is amazing electro funk. The tricky problem with funk is that if not done well, the novelty of the funk can overpower the singers– so, in essence, the audience is thinking this song is really weird and no matter how talented the performers are, they simply cannot ignore the weirdness of the funk. The song was assiduously mixed with this in mind: the funk elements are there but not in your face– we get treated to beautiful falsettos mostly sung by Onew and Jonghyun (heavy on the Jonghyun for the most part), and “funky” synths like guitar riffs and interesting bass lines, while present, are kept minimal in the background. These funky moments are likewise paired with minimal electro synthy tricks; the choruses are all our familiar Sherlock electro with a light percussive beat, so the track itself cannot be categorized as just plain funk, hence the electro funk. Dream Girl strikes the correct balance, which is what makes it such an exciting track to listen to.
I am excited to say that I will be reviewing SHINee’s Dream Girl album in its entirety, including the music videos and subsequent live performances, hopefully within one week. In the meantime, I was listening to Dream Girl using Google Music and it surprisingly generated a great playlist based on Dream Girl. It can help you, perhaps, to pass some time while you are waiting for my review. As a good SHINee fangirl, I have been listening to Dream Girl non-stop, and so it is refreshing to jam to other tunes from time to time!
Included: Maroon 5, G-Dragon, BEAST, 4minute, Jin Akanishi, Marina & The Diamonds, TVXQ, and more.