A dissection on SHINee: the timeline

Like I don’t write enough posts on SHINee. This post made possible by “Lucifer,” which I’m still ambivalent about. A timeline briefly going through all their promotional singles.

LUCIFER

I feel like Lucifer is an intensely sped-up remix version of Juliette. I don’t like songs that sound like shouting (ie: DBSK’s “Are You a Good Girl?”) and the chorus is somewhat headache inducing. Not only that, but the song is really repetitive, and I mean pop songs are meant to be repetitive in order to be catchy, but the repetitive parts in this song go on for so long. There’s somewhat a bridge, but I’m not really feeling it, so the song by itself is definitely not a favorite.

Now for the choreo. SHINee’s one true strength is that they are all great with choreography, and they almost always get great choreography. I really want to know who choreographed this because they just look like they’re doing non-stylish hip thrusts repeatedly. But I can’t fully judge the choreography yet because MVs are always edited in and around choreography with other set pieces, so it’s harder to tell, and Music Bank cameramen don’t seem to have any idea how to film things because they kept focusing on Minho half the performance and I missed out on all their dancing.

In addition, after watching their comeback perf, I will say that I grossly underestimated how much of a nightmare “Lucifer” is for Jonghyun and Onew to sing. Like I seriously teetered on the edge of my seat in fear that Jonghyun will pop multiple blood vessels in his forehead/neck when he was belting out notes and I think Onew was sweating the Atlantic Ocean out of his forehead trying to get all of his. Those two are the motherfuckin’ BOSS when it comes to singing, but it can’t possibly be good for their vocal cords to have to hit all those notes perfectly so many times a week for such a long time.

The one thing I really, really love about SHINee’s live performances is Jonghyun. I love watching him sing and perform because he’s so passionate and aggressive with his singing and he has so much attitude that it’s just really attractive in a performer. So I’ll stick around for Jonghyun if nothing else.

누난 너무 예뻐 (Replay)
I remember when I first heard about the impending debut of this group, I thought immediately that this was going to be the hipster version of anything SM has produced thus far, aimed towards the younger generation of SM fans who aren’t really into that fake punk and alternative stuff that SM used to like debuting their groups with. And besides, SM was due a new boy group — Super Junior had debuted 3 years prior and it’s been a while. They were just itching to debut some boys.

Voila, out came SHINee, with the best debut song and concept ever. The song is simple enough and kind of gimmicky if you think about it. At the time SHINee was the youngest boy group to have ever debuted with a mainstream entertainment company. SM probably had the hopes that by serenading sweetly and swiftly to all the older girls, you will forget that Taemin still went to MIDDLE SCHOOL.

The point is, the song is simple, doesn’t try too hard, was incredibly catchy, and came with amazing choreography, which lends itself to great lives.

산소 같은 너 (Love like Oxygen)

This took a little used to, but again, I was really in love with how simple the concept was. This wasn’t true of Kpop then, but in hindsight, especially compared to the Kpop of 2010, less is really more. Loved the stark set of the music video, the simplicity of the outfits. All I really want from any idol group is the ability to sing well and dance well when they’re performing. This song is not the strongest, and I wasn’t super happy that this was a remake, but it worked and it was somewhat different than all the other stuff of Kpop at the time. I liked the slightly more mature feel of the styling and the song as compared to Replay, but wasn’t trying to make them out to be manly or masculine, which is something that really turns me off from boy groups. It’s like, can we let boys breathe and grow up before they have to rip off their shirts and assert their masculinity?

아.미.고 (Amigo)

This song was a little messy and chaotic, but I liked that the song had a story and followed a structure. I was very close to not liking this song, but the choreography saved Amigo, as I realize that SHINee’s work has a tendency to do, and I liked how they were styled. They were boyish but not pristinely preppy and didn’t try too hard to project a certain image.

After the promotion of this song, they wrapped up half a year’s worth of continuous activities, which was impressive. Kpop groups constantly putting out songs and performance is nothing new, but the unique thing about SHINee in this case is that they debuted with an album just about three months after their debut, period, which I can’t remember any other group doing…ever. So huge props up to them for that, which I will go into a little bit more for a later post.

줄리엣 (Juliette)

SM really lost me with this song. I hated everything about this single. First of all, the styling. This concept really rubbed me the wrong way. It was the same kind of BS-y Nylon-style hipster stuff that I hated. Second, the song. I have a huge problem with SM remaking songs because it to me comes off like they either 1) don’t have the ability to do it themselves 2) didn’t spend too much time on their artist. I don’t have a problem with this if they bought the rights to a song that was specifically produced for their artist (BoA’s “Eat You Up,” for example) but if you’re going to use it for promotional single for an up-and-coming group that is relatively popular, then I have much higher expectations for it, which leads me to the next complaint.

This song isn’t even good. It kind of flits along with no real climax and the song’s arrangement is awkward. I didn’t pay attention to SHINee at all during the entirety of their promotion of this song. The thing with me and SHINee is that I find them completely uninteresting outside of performing so if they hit a bad single, I just am completely detached from them as a group.

Ring Ding Dong

Thank GOD this came along. I didn’t have to completely lose my faith in SHINee or SM. Minus the horrifyingly embarrassing name, I think this song is the perfect kind of song for SHINee. It’s age appropriate (this doesn’t make sense until you watch SuJu members substitute sick SHINee members and you realize that they are just too old for this shit). It’s got a good beat, and thus a song that can have great choreo. (One weakness of Juliette is that the beat is just so weak, the choreography just couldn’t be very umph.) There’s also a complexity to the song that allows for interesting notes and singing. Jonghyun and Onew did some of their best singing for this song, and Taemin was able to show so much progress as a singer in this song.

One thing I didn’t enjoy about this song is the concept. I don’t understand at all how the concept relates to the song. At all. And the thing I hate more than bad Kpop songs are bad Kpop concepts that don’t have any relevance to anything, other than companies/stylists trying too hard at trying too hard. Everyone looked like a goth scene kid and it just felt like they were going for the shock factor above all else.

Jo Jo

I watched two lives of this and then called it quits. One thing about SHINee’s B-sides is that whoever produces/composes for them really love this disco-tech-y Eurovision thing, and it drives me bonkers because it sounds like it doesn’t belong in Asia. This sounds like a reject Eurhythmics song, guys. Unfortunately for me, I LOVED the way they were styled and wished that they continued what they started back in their Replay days of dressing in color street style stuff, but alas, the song was just not interesting for me to tune in for three times a week for a month and a half. I also don’t like songs where the singers take themselves too seriously, and the first 30 seconds of this song is just that…it’s too much.

  • Charlotte

    Lucifer is actually ridiculously hard stamina-wise to sing (noraebang experience the day before yesterday, don’t ask) because of the fact that they’re maintaining basically what’s a single note for 4 minutes+. That plus choreo must = hellhole. I feel their pain :(

  • http://me.astromantic.org f

    When I first heard Lucifer, my first thought was: 1) man, this really isn’t all that impressive and 2) how the heck are they going to do this live. They should quit while they’re ahead and go for something like A-Yo.

  • krijin

    Lucifer live was…wow. Yes the camera was jumpy and irritating beyond all reason but honestly, what it caught was great. The stamina these guys needs for it(especially Onew and Jonghyun) impresses me a lot. I am partial to the choreo especially the hands part closest to the beginning…in the mv Taemin was the best at it, understandable as dancing is his specialty but he added a head nod(?) when the right arm was going up and down that no other member added. Natural addition that made it that much better. The thing about Shinee is that they have a lot of presence on stage. When the 5 of them break out dancing, you can’t look away. Granted, certain members outshine others depending on the song but it’s nice to see such a strong performance from an idol group…nowadays the strength has receded and lent itself to gimmicks and pretty faces. Thank you for this post, your overall observation and breakdown of them was very nice.

  • http://fangirltainment.wordpress.com zerohundred

    The thing with me and SHINee is that I find them completely uninteresting outside of performing so if they hit a bad single, I just am completely detached from them as a group.

    I agree with this. SHINee totally fell off my radar during “Juliette.” I think I listened to the mini-album once before being done with it, which is unusual because I tend to like SHINee’s songs more often than not.

    I don’t think “Lucifer” is their strongest song ever, but I don’t mind it. I like the energy of it; it seems characteristically SHINee. I think it could use some more definition, really. It doesn’t many levels to it, if that makes sense. Did you hear the MR-removed version of their Music Bank comeback though? Fierce and flawless.

    What are you thoughts on their “Lucifer” style concept?

  • Kaye

    I agree with so much of this! I’ve always tried to be loyal to SHINee, because I sincerely think the boys have potential and deserve to have their abilities recognized, but sometimes SM just makes that SO HARD. I swear it’s like they half-murder the boys in the process of trying to make them stand out every time. &Thank you! I HATED JULIETTE. It was a struggle overlooking RDD’s ridiculous lyrics, and I didn’t care for JoJo save their styling. I’m hoping SHINee has what it takes to really pull off the intensity of Lucifer’s performances. I’m still questioning their styling a bit–Key’s half-blond-buzz-cut is taking some getting used to along with the furry vests, but performance-wise they’re showing a lot of growth; I don’t think any other group can do what they’re doing on stage, so that’s enough to keep my attention for now.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tofumon tofu

    Been waiting for this post from you. I don’t follow Shinee at all, but I do recognize them as a bunch of really talented kids. One of the most vocally disciplined groups in Kpop. The only thing I will comment on is what you said about Jong Hyun. I really like him. It’s without being said that he can sing, but what differentiates him from the rest of the group is that he feels it. Shinee, maybe due to their age, is very dead to me. They’re good technically, but they just don’t “feel it.” This is why Jong Hyun really stands out to me. Plus, he has a killer jawline. HOT.

    Lucifer’s MV is unfortunate.

  • jamieguo

    I really only like three songs of Shinee, “Replay,” “You,” and “Ring Ding Dong.” The rest, eh. I love the song “You” and didn’t know why they didn’t promote that instead of “Jojo,” which always remind me of clowns for some reason.

    I think if “Ring Ding Dong” was the “Purple Line” of Shinee, with nonsense lyrics, yet cool dance moves, then “Lucifer” is more like Suju’s “Don’t Don” except without the cool violin in the middle and less coherence.

    Like you, Shinee shines for me because of their music and dance, as I don’t find them particularly interesting outside of that and or even that droolworthy (though I love Minho’s new style, he actually looks manly now) and Hello Baby was fun because of Yoogeun and their interactions with him, the stuff without him was boring.

  • Elizabeth

    I felt like I was the only one not in love with Lucifer. The Omona stans were going nuts but I actually preferred the ballads. Having said that, none of Shinee’s dance songs have stuck with me like Replay did even though their choreography is always great. And yes, they’re not that engaging on variety shows so when their songs aren’t good I just avoid them until the next comeback. They have potential but it’s being wasted and SM should really let them showcase their vocals while other groups descend into autotune hell.

    Beautiful breakdown.

  • MALCOLM

    Have any of you listened to the full Lucifer album? There are plenty of ballads on which the boys, especially taemin, get to show off their vocal talents, like Quasimodo (Love It <3).

  • Crazygirl

    Wow, just saying, it’s easy to see that you hate Shinee and all of their songs. But honestly, no one cares. Keep your hatred to yourself and whine about to someone else.