This is sort of, kind of, most likely, the worst duo project I’ve heard since Eunhyuk and Donghae’s album RIDE ME. INFINITE’s Woohyun and SHINee’s Key, though they are great friends in real life and have great chemistry in the music videos, their singing and rapping do not mesh well. They do not complement each other: they neither lessen each other’s weaknesses nor strengthen each other’s specialties. To be fair, it’s hard to balance with a voice like Key’s. All too obviously, this mini-album fails the balancing act and even raises the question, did they even attempt to create balance?
The production also seems off-quality– I’ve been told that it’s not the usual slew of SM producers backing this, rather from Woollim Entertainment. I’ve never really enjoyed an INFINITE song, and I suspect it may be the unfinished and corny sound that that Woollim tends to favor. Rather than SM’s style of slick pop, Woollim gives off a safe-family vibe.
In this review, I will only be talking about the album and will not review the music videos or the lives, though I may mention them in passing. Be warned, this review is more crass than you would typically read because I couldn’t find much to like about this mini.
I can hear it now, the waves of corniness with a big side of unnecessary piano and bass comping in the background. Can I make it through without gagging? $10 on me not being able to make it to the end.
Did you adventurously bet that I could make it to the end? You just lost a significant amount of money. Sorry, the “Come on girl love is so nutritious” made me gag reflexively. However, like the SHINee fan I am who has survived Ring Ding Dong, I moved past it. Sort of. I kind of started gagging again near the middle after hearing Key’s terrible singing for over two minutes. It seems throughout this entire song he cannot hold a vibrato when it matters and his rapping seems so mechanical and shouty. Yet, this can describe Key in a lot of SHINee songs. What’s different? Two things: Key is singing a lot more and Woohyun is powerless to counteract or counterbalance Key’s voice. In SHINee, there is always a Jonghyun, Onew, or Taemin to soothe away the brittleness of Key’s. Woohyun’s voice is nowhere near powerful enough to do so nor do they blend well; Woohyun and Key, for the most part, sound like they’re singing in separate silos. Best friends do not necessarily make the best duet partners.
I do get the impression that Woohyun is a main vocalist and does have control in many places that Key lacks, but again, one can only be as good as the duet partner. I’m sorry to say Key drags it, sounding flat and the opposite of bouncy and delicious. However, Key can bounce, as he showed in Kiss Yo. Wait, what’s the difference? The rest of the SHINee members supporting Key and the fact that Key only sings a few lines.
I’ve watched a few minutes of Key’s musicals, and coupled with ToHeart, it’s clear to me that Key isn’t a marathon singer, despite how much practice he has had. He gets continually flatter and unregulated as he sings more and more– even on a carefully recorded track. It’s painful to listen to.
Key’s voice is doctored a lot more, so a lot of his lower passages are passable. Yet, all this doctoring makes a dull song even duller. Uninspiring and I’m starting to think that Woohyun’s voice is incredibly limited in this doo-woppy fast-dance genre. Perhaps this is not his genre.
You’re My Lady
At last, Key is starting to try and ToHeart has some sort of semblance of being partners in the song. Yet, as I listen to this song, I feel that while Woohyun’s voice is nice in some places, I would not be confident of recognizing it outside of context. It sounds like the mass of rookie male singers that I cycle through from time to time. He does not have a particularly distinctive voice and his expression seems limited. Woohyun’s vocalizations seem to be cut of the same cloth each time, making them all unimpressive after the first impressive run.
Tell Me Why
This song had potential until the full instrumental kicks in at the chorus, just another feel-good chorus without any feelings from the oh-so-plaintive beginning. However, this is the only song in the album that does not cause any gagging– a small accomplishment in itself, I suppose. This small success is owing to the fact that Key sings mostly in his lower register in the verses, and manages quite well. Nonetheless, he still strains into his upper register in the chorus. Woohyun hands in a solid, but unremarkable, performance, yet again.
Tell Me Why had passable lower registers, but Departure is a very good example of bad lower register singing. The corny harmonica, guitar and string comping add an unrefreshing country feel. Is this album over yet? It is. Great. Now let me move on with my life.