[kpop/review] Japanese Lucifer, SHINee. More fangirl fodder in slightly different flavors

My last post was rather melodramatic, telling the still-unraveling tale of my disillusionment with SHINee. However, the first time I watched Japanese Lucifer, I squealed like a newly minted fangirl. The second time I watched Japanese Lucifer, I squealed and the third time, and the fourth time..

Let’s take a look at components of the video and perhaps at the end, I can give you insight on why I had such an embarrassingly fangirly reaction.

singing

To my great relief, no one’s part was changed and swapped in favor of another member. However, I think Taemin and Onew actually dominate in the chorus this time around, but I am not completely sure since the chorus is still an autotuned mess; however, the chorus definitely sounds tonally different, not at all due to the fact they are singing in a different language.

I have had quite a few people comment to me that their Japanese sounds unnatural; that I concur with, they seem like Korean singers singing in Korean with some Japanese sprinkled in between. Also, Lucifer was heavily conceived in Korean*, and is a heavily articulated song based on the spoken words themselves, so it would sound off in any language that it is translated and sung in.

Minho. I cannot lie, the first time I watched it and heard him singing for the first time in Japanese, I was mean, and I could not stop shrieking in laughter. A little froggy voice coming out of a man (I refuse to think of him as boy next door anymore) is unnatural. If you follow my formspring, you probably read sometime that I do not think Minho is cut out to be a singer, mainly because of his timbre. Of course, this is mostly a value judgment on my part, but hey, is there any popular singer out there that sings like a strangled frog and has a similar body build to Minho? Nope. I am betting that there will never be. Eminem may not be a good singer, but when he sings his choruses, Eminem sounds like.. Eminem! Jay-Z sounds like Jay-Z! Kanye sounds like Kanye! SM needs to be told having a mainstream voice is not necessary, and that it’s perfectly fine for someone just to rap. The best examples of this in the kpop industry right now are G-Dragon and TOP.

This might just be because of different people mastering tracks, but Jonghyun’s long note  is one measure shorter in Japanese Lucifer than in Korean Lucifer. 

*The lyrics for Lucifer are by Yoo Young Jin, composed and arranged by Ryan Jhun, Yoo Young Jin, Adam Kapit, and Bebe Rexha; predominantly Koreans. 

dancing 

Tight. As usual. Jonghyun retains all of his center positions. I’m satisfied.

style / fashion

Onew was easily the best-looking in this video. His outfit at 0.24s was the most memorable mainly because of the colors, the divisions, and his slightly thinner frame. In Korean Lucifer, Jonghyun owned the body wave when he sang his long note, but this time, the body wave was owned by Onew at 3.51s, again helped by his slimmer body. Heck, he even managed a wink at 2.37s; intentionally or not, Onew winked and still gave off the I-am-sex-manly-sex aura.

Minho at 3.26s, hello lead manga character! He was the second most handsome. The haircut suits him and gets rid of his frog look that sort of surfaced in Korean Lucifer and was full-blown in Hello.

Jonghyun looked essentially the same. In fact, I think they recycled concepts for Jonghyun’s outfits. The studded jacket he wears in his solo shots have definitely appeared in Korean promotions of Lucifer. Pause at 0.28s, you see him wearing a ribbon bracelet. Honestly, it seems like a total afterthought. (Stylist: “Gosh darn, I just copied the previous concept! Let’s add this ribbon bracelet for contrast! Yeah, studs and ribbons! Genius!”)

Clown hat. Taemin was wearing a black leather clown hat. Such an afterthought as well, put in for shock value rather than aesthetic harmony.

The makeup artists were extremely phenomenal this time. They used a palette of nudes, charcoals, and just a touch of red– the red that you find on rabid animals and zombies (don’t believe me? Jonghyun at 3.40s. Chills, man). Korean Lucifer was over the top, all of them wearing heavy eye makeup except for Jonghyun– giving them an unintended insouciance, while Japanese Lucifer seems so much more sedate and mature. All of SHINee are naturally handsome, so the nude palette really highlighted this subtlety in natural beauty, which I think the Japanese, more so than plastic aficionados in South Korea, tend to gravitate towards and value. Come on, the song’s title is Lucifer and SHINee looks corpse, and slightly undead? Very cool.

No, I didn’t forget about Key. On the theme of subtlety, that is exactly what his hair is (3.56s), a blonde with undertones of black. Very macabre, very subtly couture. Though not as outrageously couture as Korean Lucifer, Key passes.

set

Honestly, I like the Japanese set much better just for the sole fact there are no awkward cars in there.

They redid Ring Ding Dong‘s water scenes in Lucifer fashion (i.e. flo-mo), and even had the same color outfits. Clearly not a coincidence, they were probably trying to pay homage.

Nothing in the set was too spectacular, though Jonghyun’s room which had square holes of light peeking through was just barely there in creativity. I would have liked to see more metaphorical play with light, because after all, “Lucifer” means “light-bringer” in Latin.

production

Especially in the beginning and the water scenes, Taemin is slightly favored, and he is ‘slightly’ favored until the end. I counted how many up-close shots Jonghyun and Taemin had, Taemin was ahead by around 3-4, so it wasn’t significant. Therefore, the group balance was much better this time around.

Cinematography was sharper and had more freedom angular positioning, and the flo-mo was in good taste, not seemingly random as in Japanese Replay. 

so why did you squeal like a newly minted Shawol?

Lucifer was the first single in which each member had equal roles; the SHINee that I fell in love with. Japanese Lucifer just reiterated this balance and equality, packaged for a slightly different market. Moreover, I am a sucker for natural beauty and this sort of minimalism makeup. This may be weird to say, but I actually prefer the audio of Japanese Lucifer, because the mastering is sharper. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I can say the Japanese masterers pay attention to detail very well– for example, 0.49s, the echo was much more defined, and lower; extremely subtle but these sort of details add to an entirely better track overall. Additionally, the quasi-sharpness and the directness of the Japanese language fits very well to this ranty, pissy, anger song.

With this, Japanese recap of Korean repertoire should come to an end. Real jpop (no, Kiss Kiss Kiss does not count!) may just be on the horizon next year, and for that, I am extremely excited. kpop TVXQ? I’ll pass! jpop TVXQ? Genius. kpop BoA? Eh. jpop BoA? Brilliant.

SM, you hear? No more repackaging! Send SHINee to Japanese boot camp! Whip Jonghyun’s accent into shape! Don’t let Onew become any thinner! Their goal is to be jpop TVXQ. Or better.

—–

author’s note: I just read Thomas’s review of the music video at 4am this morning (I have a bus to catch at 6.45am!), and I was extremely surprised by how much he panned the language and pronunciation. Interesting.

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17 thoughts on “[kpop/review] Japanese Lucifer, SHINee. More fangirl fodder in slightly different flavors

  1. Very thorough review Michelle! I am impressed, as always. I can definitely appreciate the style and fashion of the video more than I did before, especially now that I notice Onew’s “I-am-sex-manly-sex aura.” HA.

    As for my mini-review… maybe I wasn’t specific enough, as I wasn’t referring to the actual Japanese, more like the song itself. Like you said, the chorus was heavily auto-tuned (the original was too, but…) and I had grown accustomed to “Lucifer” sounding more aggressive and dangerous, you know? The Japanese version just didn’t do that for me, though I can see why you would say the unnaturalness of the song augments its overall tone.

    Of course my opinion is entirely subjective and not based on any form of actual authority. The majority of 2NE1 fans hated the Japanese version of “I Am The Best”, but I thought it was pretty good, just not as great as the original. o_o

    • mhm, I suppose this is where we diverge. I think it sounds as aggressive.. =.= yup, don’t worry about it, all of it is highly subjective :) I took that into account too~

      Michelle

  2. YES, finally I can read your review for Jap Lucifer :D.

    Hm. I agree with you that Japan production is much much sharper than Korea. But still I have my main complaint that comes from the language. As someone who understands Japanese, I was really annoyed when I had to replay Lucifer 5-6 times just to get something of the chorus. SHINee haven’t mastered Japanese yet, I get that. But the lyricist should done better transforming the Korean lyrics into Japanese one so at least it sounded decent. My Japanese friend was like rolling her eyes when I asked her to listen to this song.

    I can’t comment much on the style and the dance. The dance is as sharp as ever. The style.. I don’t mind the ones that they are wearing in the PV, but the album photos.. seriously, Taemin’s sets kinda freaked me out. But that’s just me, the others seem to love it. Maknae finally got some sexy acts lol.

    And last but not least, what the hell is that blue ribbon around them? xD

    PS. Agree with you. JPOP BoA is more than brilliant. It’s BoA at her best.

    • mm haha I have to get on that (looking at scans of their album!)..

      oho, I interpreted the special effects blue ribbon as in it’s the force of the ‘woman’ who is enveloping them and controlling them. Therefore, it’s surrounding them throughout the song and then at the end, they throw off this mystical force.. =.= it’s actually pretty slick, hinting at the ‘woman’ without actually showing one (which means fangirls can interpret as they please).

      :) aww thanks for reading and commenting!
      Michelle

      • I think omona has the scans. There was a commotion and exploding comments when the entry was posted lol.

        Oh, nicely done interpretation of blue ribbon. But instead of woman, somehow I am thinking of SM (haha, me and my disgust towards SM).

        I hope they are going to release genuine Japanese single next. But if they are not, I prefer them to just go back to Korea and make a comeback.

      • YAH OMG I JUST SAW THEM … Taemin’s are so suggestive =.= and why was he the only one? .___. sometimes I don’t get their management..

        last paragraph, totes agree.

        Michelle ^^;

  3. Okay, I like Taemin a lot. I loved Taemin in this, clown hat included, but…But his Japanese…It’s not /bad/, his Japanese is in no way, shape, or form /bad/…but, awkward, choppy, heavily accented in Korean. It’s like he didn’t learn as well as his Hyungs.

    I don’t know. I’m being too critical, SHINee couldn’t have had a long time to learn Japanese anyway, judging how SM usually makes their bands scurry around. Maybe I’m picky because my little brother still speaks it around the house and GUESS WHERE I’M FROM, YOU’LL NEVER GUESS : | Yeah, Japan. ANYWAY ENOUGH ABOUT ME

    I love Taemin, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I’ll listen to this version very much.

    It’s /mainly/ when he says “Boku ga tsumarana sou ni miteru kimi ni” because that’s where the choppiness shines through the most-but the whole time I’m hearing L’s instead of R’s, G’s instead of K’s, his Korean accent (THOUGH ADORABLE > U <) sort of got on my nerves after a while.

    I have to say Key's Japanese improved a lot! And JongHyun was…oh my, he was awesome, his words were nice too!. OH AND ONEW was just great all around AND HE LIP SYNCED BETTER THAN I HAVE EVER SEEN HIM LIP SYNC (watch Hello and tell me he's a good lip syncer, I dare you). And I really liked Minho, but I disliked how he goes "tell me why" all emotionless after a rap that sort of seemed powerful to me.

    BUT TAEMIN. Why. I over looked it in Replay and in Juliette I didn't see any huge problem with his pronunciation, HELL, IN KISS KISS KISS HE WAS PHENOMENAL, but in Lucifer…It's like he got worse. ; n ; I just want to hear him speak Korean again, he's good at that.

    • :) thanks for the insight on the language and pronunciation. hm I have heard from other reviewers that Minho is rather a bland rapper who doesn’t have much emotion, and I’d have to agree with you on that for this song. I’m highly puzzled that they let out such a poorly pronounced track even when SM style is to record until you get it perfect, I suppose it was the best they can do =.= at this point.

      I agree. They need to shuttle it back to Korea and have a ‘normal’ comeback and recharge for a real entry into jpop.. sigh.. waiting.. waiting..

      ^^;
      Michelle

  4. Thanks for your thoughtful review. After I read it I had to watch the video about five or six times in a row. I don’t recall this on the Korean version but, tonight when I was watching/listening with headphones on there seemed to be a high-pitched bell sound in parts that kept making me think someone was ringing my doorbell & I stopped the playback a few times before I just decided it was just in the song! (lol)
    Not that anyone asked but here are my thoughts: (:P) I don’t speak Japanese so the pronunciations didn’t bother me although I must say I still prefer the Korean version, simply based on the harder-hitting sound of the vocals (I mean the actual words themselves & the sounds they make to my ears – the vocal performances here are still great.) I can appreciate what you mentioned about the song being originally written for Korean so this makes total sense that some of the impact (for me) would get lost in the translation. However, I think if I had NEVER heard nor seen the Korean version – I would think this song & video were pretty darn badass.
    Ok – I try not to pick a bias because I really can appreciate each member so much. That said, I usually gravitate towards Onew, based on his awkward/strange/goofy/unexpected persona & his incredible voice. Key was kinda the star for me in the Korean version, (the HAIR! I LOVED it & his whole vibe was just so fierce,) & this was no exception. I thought Key looked the best overall here. Taemin’s clothes were second best, but I missed his long red hair & even the clothes were a bit on the “tamer” side of “rocker”, while Key’s just went overboard & I think that’s great! Of course Minho was super handsome, as always, (even with the froggy thing – lol,) but I wanted to say I was really impressed with Jonghyun. He seemed to make the most natural transition overall. Again, my ears are totally untrained to proper Japanese, so this is purely based on the visuals & the actual sound of his voice, etc.)
    After watching the video I also watched Replay & Juliette, (Japanese versions.) MUCH better clothes in the Juliette version this time & I have to say the Japanese version of Replay was pretty adorable all-around. It kind of breathed new life into a song I have heard billions of times. I think it even sounded a little bit softer & cuter if that makes sense?
    Thanks for letting me go off here. I love your blog! <3

    • any time! welcome back :) yes, I noticed those weird blaring bell sounds in the chorus, they are in both of the songs (Korean and Japanese).. I always thought they were weirdly put in there, but I think it’s for tension and for subconsciously creating the metallic texture, because most people I know have never heard of them in there before, but it’s annoying when you start hearing them, you can’t stop hearing it!!

      I asked for your thoughts! Everything I post on here is intended as a prelude to discussion :) though I’m not as conscientious as other bloggers and ask questions at the end..

      ah, yes, Japanese Replay it was rather cute, right? =.= ignoring Taemin taking parts. Juliette’s art direction was better too, ignoring the Taemin festival.. though I am so ready for SHINee to do new stuff and stop taking inspiration from the past.

      thanks for reading and stopping by again!
      Michelle

      • Thanks, Michelle :) ~ I did like the Japanese Juliette, too, except for the chorus, (the “Girl” part kinda threw me at first, but I am getting used to it.) Oh & can I love Key’s flamboyant style any more? (The Pink with the headband? You go, key! lol.) Anyway, part of me is glad that they are just doing SOMETHING & remaining in the spotlight because I really do think they are talented (& yeah, so cute :P) but I totally agree, they should really release some new material. It’s not like there’s a shortage of great songwriters in the world :P

  5. I have to say, I didn’t fangirl the Japanese Lucifer at all. :/ Even though nobody’s parts had been changed up. Perhaps because I’m too heavily reliant on whether the Japanese audio (language flow) is any good. I was starting to kind of accept Replay until I found out about Taemin. XP Anyway, I believe I think that way because Lucifer is a high-energy song, and no one except DBSK (and at this point, Secret’s doing extremely well in my opinion ^_~) has been able to transition smoothly when doing so. Otherwise the slow remakes are a bit more decent and bearable for me. Speaking of the articulated words, gosh, Minho’s non-rap part ‘no no no no’ was more ‘non non non non’ sounding. O.o (And totally agree about Minho’s looks!) And honestly, even though I don’t speak much Japanese, I can pick out words quite easily, but it’s never easy to do so in these remakes. I thought the chorus was ‘get the free day.’ .___. Yuk. And I totally mentioned the uselessness of cars in my last review with TSLuna! XD (Almost) always stationary, no use.

    Anyway, yeah. Not much to say. I don’t like the Japanese Lucifer at all, really. Just a lower-quality version that’s not as up to par to the original as it could be. Songwise. *biased* The video was okay. *shrugs* But I’m not hating it, either. I just plainly dislike it.

    • lol. I guess this review diverged from everyone else’s thoughts! No problem!

      -__-” (ignorant about Secret) yah yah I think it depends on the MV. Like Minho in “Hello”, that was understandable car use. But ‘Lucifer’– it was just very odd. Empty rooms + nice cars + nice boys.

      o.0 I totally get your opinion and agree with “Just a lower-quality version that’s not as up to par to the original as it could be. Songwise.” Puzzling how I really liked it.. must be the Onew factor.. I was sitting there, saying out loud, “When did Onew get this good-looking?!” .. must be ..

      ^^; Michelle

  6. Hey Michelle(?)
    I was going through this,and unlike the last one..I totally agree with ya.
    But my eye stopped on something.
    On one of your comments/Replies you wrote that Minho does not have nay emotion.
    Well,i totally disagree with that.
    Surely enough,He is the quite & Serious one…But
    He has ALOT of emotion.
    -Manal
    P.s:-LIke it.
    XD
    GoodJob.

    • Hi Manal!! :D

      well, I did say that some people criticize Minho for having no emotion and that I agreed this time that this time it was lacking. I think it depends on the song, but sometimes Minho comes off flat and only sounds cool and serious.. which is sort of boring sometimes ^^;

      Michelle

  7. Pingback: [review/kpop] The First, SHINee « the innocent lam

  8. Pingback: [review] SHINee is soooo back with Sherlock. | the innocent lam

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