Sunday, October 23, 2016

NOW #KPOPPING: SHINee's '1 of 1' is the stuff of Boy Band Legend

Because honestly, what is this blog without a KPOP update?

A lot has been happening in the Idol scene since we last chatted. CL is planning a US Tour to start this week. Boy band BTS has basically stolen EXO's thunder out from under them with a wildly successful (and sexy!) comeback. Big Bang is reportedly planning "one last" hurrah before heading into the army (I'll believe it when I see it). Golden-throated Jino of former SM-The Ballad infamy finally escaped the SM dungeon and debuted with boy band PentagonSuper Junior now only has one member left that hasn't left/finished army service. I.O.I. became arguably my newest "girl group" obsession, and hmmm...what else? Oh yeah, SHINee has returned to bless us with new music.

In the interest of true disclosure, bias is as bias does. I'm not trying to discount other groups here as there is a lot of premium boy band jams out at the moment. BTS's EDM-y new single features them being a little too sexy for my general noona-age self, acting like vampires (?) and their choreography is -- as usual -- ridiculously on point. The song itself -- "Blood, Sweat and Tears" -- gets more ear-wormy the more you play it (MONEY-MONEY!) but when it comes to these boys, at least for me, you watch them to watch them dance and dance well.

 also came out of the woodwork for a stealthily great single dubbed "The Eye". It starts like it'd be a little too slow for my liking and gradually crescendos into all out tunage. Hell, the boys of VIXX are reportedly about to drop a comeback shortly that if it's true to its teaser photographs will feature fifty shades of grey-esque BDSM elements. We've come a long way from the early days of TVXQ! crooning "Hug".

While it's clearly en vogue for KPOP boy bands to exude the most in terms of utter sex appeal, my guys in SHINee, they've never been interested in following trends but walking their own path. Hence, the 1 of 1 album -- their latest offering that I'd argue is their strongest front-to-back to date (aside from perhaps their Misconceptions dual-record). For a group from a behemoth like SM Entertainment, who arguably prides themselves on keeping their idols on a tight leash, SHINee (and maybe to a lesser degree f(x)) have really flourished with their own style and feel, releasing single after single that featured a new fresh visual with a layered sound that always feels intrinsically SHINee.

The excitement caused by "1 of 1" for me is basically because it's playing to SHINee's base. On the surface, the single is pretty safe for a group that finds true strength in being a little weird. But while groups today are trying to push boundaries in terms of sexuality and familiarity to today's pop standards (hence the over-emphasis on EDM-y or tropical house sounds), SHINee instead went backwards in time, employing late 80's/early 90's boy band bop beats for a single so damn New Kids on the Block, it's impossible to not smile.

Like seriously. If they started doing the "Right Stuff" leg swing moves in the live choreography I would simultaneously 1) not be surprised, and 2) lose my sh*t.

Somewhere, the members of Color Me Badd are hearing their ears ring right now. I'm sure this would get their stamp of approval as long as no one tells them that kids today are calling this "super retro". Shhhh....

Lest we forget, ya'll -- SHINee got their start with the single "Noona, You're So Pretty" (read: "Older Girl, You're So Pretty") eight years ago. Let their contemporaries and hoobaes make the younger gals go wild -- SHINee will always be here for us Noonas (especially now when we need them most as most of the boy bands that are closer to our age are either in the army or nowhere to be seen).

Like most recent SHINee singles, it relies somewhat heavily on the trio of voices that really make SHINee's vocal color: Onew, Jonghyun, and Taemin. With this single, however, I'd argue it's the most cohesively equal in audio level we've ever had ("Lucifer" and "Sherlock" were heavy with the Jong -- not that I'm complaining really), providing their most "group" sounding vocal to date, with Minho & Key supplying rap accouterments.

Now, before you come for my wig because of the fashion for this comeback I have this to say to you: SHINee's looks are almost always ridiculous. Honestly, it's to the point now that if all of SHINee looks good, I'm confused. It just doesn't fit their branding. When they go for a comeback, they are all in, alright? Boyz II Men monochrome suits in ugly condiment colors? Sure! Thick, ugly, gold chains like they are Jodeci? Okay! Light wash, high-waisted Mom Jeans? Yes, ma'am. Layers of Cosby-esque sweaters? I wouldn't have it any other way.

My only sadface? The video lacks true SHINee choreo formation because Onew was injured. But I'm grateful they didn't delay the comeback any longer or risk cutting Onew out entirely like they did with Jonghyun in "Why So Serious". Sigh. Priorities. (And besides, Onew is back in formation for the live performances.)

While the single is easily my favorite part of the 1 of 1 album, there's lots of great pop nuggets on there: sparkly opener "Prism" sounds like a true transition track between this era and last year's View, bouncy "Feel Good" is a great hype track, "SHIFT" is total 90's dance, and "So Amazing" is classic SHINee (and was written by Onew).

It probably won't hold me over for another year or so when my Kings will return from the army but for now -- it sure, does feel good because man...SHINee never goes out of style.

1 comment:

Linus said...

It's crazy how they've become "ol' reliable SHINee"! Oh, Time, stop f*cking with me.

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