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.
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.
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.
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.
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.