Wednesday, May 20, 2015

NOW #KPOPPING: SHINee's Back with a New "View"

L to R: Onew, Key, Taemin, Jonghyun, Minho
Guys, I'm overwhelmed. So much good is happening all at once. The Eurovision final is on Saturday. Little Mix's ace new single leaked early and will be released early (post coming soon) and my favorite no-longer-underaged darlings in SHINee are back on the KPOP scene. FINALLY...(Minho Voice, say it with me) SHINee's Back!

It's been a year and a half since SHINee's last Korean release -- dancey "Everybody" back in 2013. Since then, they've released a fresh full length album in Japan (I'm Your Boy) and members Taemin and Jonghyun have both offered up solo EPs. But now they are back in five-piece choreography formation for a new summer jam and a new album.

The song is called "View" and if you were like me and were just waiting for a KPOP act to get this 90's dance groove thing right, wait no longer. SHINee is known for being trendy so this shouldn't have been too much of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one. Choreography was not forsaken, the tempo is good, all of them sound great, and its a grower in the best way. Oh, and my guy Jonghyun wrote the lyrics -- allegedly beating out over 20 other compositions for that bragging right.

"View" is the lead jam from their fourth official full length album, Odd, which I'm placing side by side to their transition breakthrough piece, Lucifer. The album is all over the map in terms of genres -- some of it works, some of it doesn't (at least not for the time being). It's the sheer force of energy that really solidifies it as a set and is yet another proof positive that SHINee isn't afraid to tweak and experiment. 

That being said, if you adored their super shiny (pun very much intended) earlier jams like "A.Mi.Go" or even arguably their best work with "Sherlock", you might feel a little underwhelmed. Odd is exactly that and doesn't try to be mainstream accessible. In much of the same way that I feel Big Bang works on an international level for being both a boy band as we come to know the term and something else entirely, SHINee seems to be reaching for a similar feel. Much of this album doesn't feel like a typical boy band album -- in fact, much of it doesn't even really feel like KPOP as I've come to know it to be. There is no straight-ahead pop jam like "Dream Girl" on this record. It's decidedly other and that's exciting because as I've said before -- SHINee can walk both paths. This something that few other KPOP groups can do and do well.

Like with Lucifer before it, I adore the lead single and a smattering of the rest of the material. When I first heard both albums, I was a bit perplexed. After a few spins, I found a handful of album cuts I really loved. In the case of Odd, these currently seem to be ethereal, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink "Trigger" and its polar opposite (which coincidentally appears adjacent in the track listing) "Farewell My Lover". The latter is an early 90's love-soaked R&B power ballad and might just be SHINee's elusive "Before U Go" moment (or at the very least a worthy followup to the under-promoted "Symptoms").

Basically, Odd is the album I wasn't expecting to get from SHINee and I'm happy about that. I'm also really excited to see these boys perform the hell out of this odd new material.

Given the fact that SHINee's Back and with a music video not set in a SM dungeon box to boot, it's definitely time to resurrect my patented...

For the Fangirls & Fanboys:
  • Is Minho really walking around a forest in a striped suit? And while we're on the subject of Minho, HOW GOOD DOES MINHO LOOK, GUYS? SHINee, you bewilder me. Every era, I find a different member attractive. This time round, it might be Minho. Who would have thought. Seriously though. Seriously.
  • That being said, Taemin still looks really good even with the strange hair. How does this child pull off any look regardless of how ridiculous it is? Also -- he's almost 22 now so I feel less weird about finding him attractive (but it still feels pretty weird, NGL).
  • SHINee being kidnapped by white girls right now? Should we call someone?
  • Also, anyone else surprised by the sheer amount of non-Asian girls being featured in (male) KPOP videos? I sure am. Is this how they avoid the expected onslaught of vitriol by fangirls? And on a related note, how can I be said non-Asian girl featured? Let me know in the comments, kthanks.
  • So much undressing in this video. My eyes. It's weird to see SHINee so...non-idol on a pedestal. I can't be the only one. You mean they are human men in their twenties?!? I know! I'm shocked, too!
  • A+ Jonghyun for your Guns & Roses T-shirt. And given that he likes rock music, I'm not judging him for wearing it. And in another shot he wears a Curtis Mayfield shirt! Man, I knew you were my "technical" bias for a reason. I promise I will try to adjust to this platinum blonde on you.
  • As expected, Key Key. But I give him bonus points for wearing a jersey that says "Girl Power" because yaaaass gurl.
  • For the first time in what feels like literally forever, let's all give a round of applause to the stylist for putting (let's call a spade a spade for this era) the hot 3/5's of SHINee into tank tops with the low-cut/large cutaway sleeves. 
  • Nerd Alert: the hipster cinematography here is pretty on fleek. (Kids, did I use that right?)
  • Wait, so Onew has a hot girl alone, she takes her top off, and he looks visibly uncomfortable? Oh Jinki, why? Furthermore, why do Onew and Minho get scandalous solo shots with girls and no one else does? Did the other three object because they have real life girlfriends(/boyfriends)? (Sorry, did I just get too real?)
  • Say it with me, the shirtless pool bit was way too short.

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