[review] SHINee’s “I’m Your Boy”

downtown

1. Downtown Baby 

This single can be seen as a follow-up to Lucky Star and Dazzling Girl, endearingly pop and catchy but not a particularly creative or more-than-ephemeral song. The vocals are all stylistically more consistent, warm, broad, and light– even Minho. Jonghyun in particular sounds more mild than usual, a tone he usually reserves for ballads and not for upbeat singles like Downtown Baby.

There’s nothing much to complain about this single, nor is there much to especially like. 

2. Lucky Star

Released before Downtown Baby, Lucky Star is much in the same vein– funky bass and sunny feelings all around (mainly supplied by Onew’s indefatigable crooning). However, there are no “moments” in Lucky Star, even Jonghyun’s long drawn-out note in the bridge is electronically retouched and the rest of the vocals seem to be compressed and fit into a narrow band of cheeriness. Minho’s rap makes me want to eat my hat, if I was wearing a hat. I wouldn’t enjoy eating a hat.

It’s definitely a song I would not listen to if it were not for SHINee and their adorable music video.

From general experience, I’ve observed that the Japanese market likes far more kitschy and cute things than the Korean market. It explains why we still continue to have singles like Lucky Star despite the fact that SHINee’s image has largely moved on in Korea.

3. Everybody (Japanese vers.)

I reviewed the Korean Everybody here. Like TVXQ’s Catch MeEverybody has been growing on me, yet I can’t fight a certain distaste for it– they really do say Everybody in the chorus too much.

4. Picasso

While the vocals in Picasso are quite heavily doctored in some parts, it is layered on top of un-doctored singing, which gives a more nuanced flavor of SHINee’s singing and serves to highlight their strengths instead. In contrast, for Ring Ding Dong, SHINee’s voices were autotuned to oblivion without much regard for balance. Notably in Picasso, Key and Minho rap in a speak-sing style, which fits Minho infinitely better than a straight-up rap and lets him settle into a more comfortable range while singing.

Compared with Downtown BabyPicasso is a bit darker, “grown-up”, and more akin to SHINee’s Everybody image. It incorporates baby-steps of EDM in the chorus, which is appreciated, because ain’t EDM the new thing on the block now? But not enough to make us gag– SM is saving that for the next Korean comeback, of course.

5. 3 2 1 / 11. Colors of the Season

I briefly reviewed 3 2 1, Colors of the Season here.

6. 365

Channeling some early 2000s guitar-pop vibes, 365 is easily one of the most gutsy and different things I’ve heard from SHINee in a long time. The stunner? The chorus. I couldn’t believe it the first time I heard it, and uttered a few expletives. Did you hear it too? The chorus is low. From their debut, Jonghyun has been the base of every SHINee chorus; this became especially prominent during the Dream Girl era. Evidenced by their previous body of work, producers consider Jonghyun’s most utilitarian registers to be the high and middle range, and thus we hear that mostly in the choruses.

In 365, the base of the chorus is built on a weird low-belty mixture of Jonghyun, Onew, and (a little) Minho. Most likely my expletives were about Minho’s inclusion. Recently, Minho has been sounding better and better, notably so when he sings in his comfortable range. Nonetheless, despite being in somewhat of a lower range than usual, his parts on this album’s new songs are disappointing. He’s back to that fake, plastic veneer of a voice that kills one of my statistical programming memories each time I hear it. It explains why I need to use the help file to do reshape in STATA all the time. Right.

The possibility did strike my mind– perhaps Minho had recorded some of these tracks before his more improved singing, but for some reason, his improved singing was released earlier.

7. Sunny Day Hero / 12. Boys Meet U 

I reviewed them both here.

8. Perfect 10

This kind of song always gets on my nerves since the background music is rather detached and the corresponding singing is as well. Overall, like Downtown Baby, there is nothing remarkable or out-of-the-line that is worth commenting on. I suppose part of my distaste for this track is rooted in my dislike of objectifying women like so by rating them.

9. Bounce

Released in tandem with Lucky Star, this is my preferred track of the two as SHINee vocally lets loose a lot more in Bounce. Nonetheless, all of the SHINee members need to be banned from singing nasally– especially Minho.

10.  Dream Girl (Japanese vers.)

I reviewed the Korean Dream Girl here, and I still stand by my assertion that Dream Girl is the most representative SHINee single thus far.

Conclusion

I’m Your Boy is another Japanese-compilation-album, this time haphazard at best. The new tracks could be bundled together in a coherent mini– Downtown Baby, Picasso, 365, Perfect 10— as they all are some variation of light-upbeat-vaguely-edm-pop. In that respect, the new tracks were well thought-out and were coherent by themselves. It seems safe to say that this is and will be SHINee’s signature jpop style. Well, as long as it doesn’t get too boring.

2 thoughts on “[review] SHINee’s “I’m Your Boy”

  1. Yeah, this album was okay, considering how half of the songs thrown in are from their previous singles like usual. I didn’t like any of their upbeat songs as much, and Colors of the Season is the only ballad I like. Boys Meet U at least had 1000 Years and The World Where You Exist (my favorite Jpop ballad from them keeps switching between the two). But I have to agree, I really, REALLY love Picasso and 365 simply because they fit SHINee’s current image in Korea more. I mean, yeah, they are /still/ cute, but not in that way anymore. XD

    The first time I heard 365 (I let the songs run continuously without checking the names as I get used to them, because that’s how I recognize, by tune and not name), I was literally thinking “OMG WAT IS THE NAME OF *THIS* SONG.” I hate Perfect 10, so lackluster. =_= And on the contrary, I prefer Lucky Star to Bounce, if only because Bounce makes me think of this one song by SMAP in their younger days and I just don’t want to associate how old-school that really is. XD Also because I dislike Bounce’s chorus, especially the word ‘bounce,’ ugh.

    In conclusion, even if I hate the cutesy Japanese stuff, there will always be those songs that I worship simply because they would have never existed on the Kpop side. Same goes for just about all SM artists who have consistently released things in Japan. Does that mean EXO will never have these types of songs? :(

    On another note, that album cover image. XD Jonghyun’s like “why I am I here” and would prefer to be standing in line at the movies, while Onew is looking dubious about his success at winning the girl after having three of his members gone first.

  2. Pingback: top 15 kpop / jpop tracks of 2014 | ilam

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