SHINee 2013 retrospective & Gayo Daejuns

2013 has musically been the busiest year for SHINee thus far, releasing three LPs (Dream Girl: Misconceptions of You, Why So Serious: Misconceptions of Me, Boys Meet U), one EP (Everybody), for a total of six singles. Excepting Jonghyun, all of the members have grown as singers– I would say that the most promising is Minho, with a close second place to Key, who is returning to and developing his original sound in Love Like Oxygen. Improvement of SHINee as singers and the concurrent increase of ballads sans rapping released gave us B-side gems like Beautiful, Password, Symptoms, and Excuse Me Miss. 2013 is easily the most consistent and technically advanced year we have seen from SHINee yet.

Outside of SHINee’s music, Taemin featured on Henry’s Trap (and visually on BoA’s Disturbance). Jonghyun composed and featured on IU’s Gloomy Clock and Son Dambi’s Red Candle, as well singing an OST for The King’s Dream. Key participated in two musicals: Catch Me If You Can and Bonnie and Clyde.

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On television, as a whole unit, SHINee appeared little: Weekly Idol and SHINee’s Wonderful Day were the high notes. While entertaining perhaps to SHINee fans, SHINee’s Wonderful Day was quite boring as the members are never as funny and wonderfully cohesive as when they are together as in Hello Baby. In the spring, Taemin was cast on We Got Married with Apink’s Naeun. However, together with the bland angelic “personality” of Taemin and the constructed fabrication of We Got Married, this was incredibly boring for most other than fans of Taemin and Naeun. A much better casting would have been Key or Jonghyun, who are much less guarded about their words and enjoy hamming it up for the cameras. Next, Onew and Minho both had their own turns at acting, with former with much-panned Welcome To the Royal Villa and the latter with Medical Top Team and Let’s Go Dream Team. Continue reading

[review] SHINee’s EP Everybody

At first look and listen, the album Everybody felt a bit deja vu. The styling concept reminded me of the red and blacks of Ring Ding Dong, and the empty-R&B-70s sound embodied by the song, Y.O.U. Well, to tell you the truth, I absolutely hated Y.O.U. despite many reviewers saying it was the surprise gem of the album, 2009, Year of US. There are just some songs that cannot be saved, no matter how silky Ontaejongminkey are. Sad to say, Everybody was much like that too.

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Everybody 

I am ambivalent about the title track– I have a strong suspicion that if it were not SHINee singing this song, I would probably never listen to it. It seems to be going along with SM’s trend of “how loud and obnoxious can we make it?” with EXO’s Wolf, SNSD’s I Got a Boy, SHINee’s Why So Serious, and TVXQ’s Catch Me. Careening at breakneck speed, there seems to be little balance and finesse in Everybody, with everyone singing as if their veins are popping at all times.

Because of this, there are not really any memorable or beautiful moments in this song; even Jonghyun sounds strained. All together, I felt that SHINee was unable to inject much personal flavor in such a lead track. The name Everybody is quite ironic, because everybody, or at least, a good number of boy groups, would have been suitable candidates for such a single. With a few minor tweaks, TVXQ, EXO, and Super Junior would have been able to promote such a single.

Moreover, I also think that inclusion of the dubstep or “complextro” added to Everybody‘s weaknesses. It is not necessarily the dubstep itself that ruins the song, rather the overuse and misuse of dubstep in kpop makes SHINee feel behind trend– even more so because Everybody‘s use of dubstep is rather ordinary. Continue reading

a spontaneous audio [review] of “Why So Serious?”

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.

[review] SHINee’s Fire.

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.

too adorable.

too adorable.

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.

she must be blushing.

she must be blushing.

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.