SHINee - Lucifer

Been so stressed lately, as you may know from my Tweets, but I think I need to write before I explode again. So here I am, with a SHINee review.
For some reason, SHINee have always been at the back of my mind whenever someone asks me which boybands I like - I always say DBSK and some other random boyband, but almost never SHINee. Now that I think about it though, they should very well be my second favorite boyband, actually. SHINee have the talent, the songs, the experience, the stage presence and the backing from a big three talent company - they are basically everything I want in a band. But I think a big factor in my non-acknowledgement of SHINee is the fact that when you say SM, I automatically say DBSK - not SHINee or SuJu, DBSK.


However, I now have a reason to acknowledge SHINee. And that's not just because DBSK are going through some rough times. The reason? They have just saved SM's reputation. I'm dead serious. All of SM's 2010 releases have been fail or near-fail for me - SNSD's Oh! was crap, RDR was slightly better but not as good as Genie, f(x) got the epic fail that was NU ABO, and SuJu, 3 members down and no longer the biggest boyband in the world, got Bonamana. Enough said.

Now we have SHINee. And Lucifer. I'll stick with my "they've saved SM's reputation" line until I get down to the details.

I heard the album the day it came out - I was in the midst of preparing for 2 major reports that my life depended on (they both failed, but that's beside the point) and so obviously I was subject to a lot of stress. Lucifer made me smile - it's one of the main reasons why I'm still alive right now and able to write this review. The album isn't perfect, nothing ever is, but the simple fact that it made me smile while I was freaking out should mean something.

SHINee have always been SM's "young" boyband - the edgy songs, sometimes rather questionably trendy outfits and consistently tight choreography were a part of the band since the very beginning - and so I'm not surprised with this "concept", so to say. I think the first signs of change came with Juliette, with the somewhat wild hair and strange album jacket photos, and were reinforced by Ring Ding Dong with the change in sound.

They still sound like themselves though. I mean yeah sure you listen to Replay and the change is really out of this world, and even the switch from Juliette to Ring Ding Dong was a little questionable, but even RDD had elements of the SHINee sound. If one even exists.

I heard Lucifer, the song, and I was like "YES!". It reminds me a bit of Low, but it sounds like a SHINee song - I knew it was them the second it started playing. It has the catchy hook Ring Ding Dong had, but it has the melody their previous singles have always had and that's because they actually have the vocals to pull it off properly. I mean, how many guys in SuJu can actually sing, and how many are they in the group? Even if SME always turned the album into a ballad-fest, they knew SuJu couldn't pull off a more melodic and vocally-demanding song - you don't hear any clear harmonies in Bonamana, do you?

The song has a sense of urgency - they're not lazing around doing nothing for 4 minutes, they're trying to get you to buy their music, the very essence of pop. The five of them have the abilities, but they also have that sense of sophistication I'm always looking for - performing is more than singing or dancing well, it's carrying yourself well, and Lucifer shows they can do that.

Simply stated, Lucifer is brilliant.

The album actually opens with Up & Down, and I wasn't convinced with the hook but the verses have character and the entire song has a certain groove that just makes you have to tap your feet along - it was the first song to make me smile. Electric Heart was the first so-so song, it reminds me of something they could've put in SHINee's first album - the melody, production and prominent guitar lines were a big part of their sound for the first few releases.

Now, A-Yo - I'm very very pleased to know that Mel and I agree when I say it's a gorgeous song. Some lines of the verses give an Indian-y vibe, but the song has such a pretty melody to not overlook that small detail. It sounds like a SHINee song through and through - SuJu or DBSK would most probably never attempt to do this because it belongs to SHINee. The hook at the beginning just made me smile like a freak when I first heard it, under stress mind you, and it's really gorgeous.

Obsession is the first ballad-y song, but I personally wouldn't call it a total ballad. The verses are beautiful, but the chorus is a little too excessive for me - the emphasis is on Jonghyun's vocals, and I'm not a big fan. He's good, but I'm just not a fan. But I gotta say, everyone sounds great on this song. Yay!

Quasimodo's the first real ballad if we follow my definition, and I love it. Better than Obsession. It seems to me like it was originally for an Onew solo but got rejected so they made the whole band sing it - my explanation of why I'm so angry that Onew gets ballads for solo songs will have to wait. But yeah, I like the song - because Key and Jonghyun are on it. The pretty verses are enough to make me go crazy, but they just had to put some harmonies into the chorus. Plus the fact that Minho actually gets a line and sings it well! It's not really supposed to go anywhere in terms of arrangement and instruments - the vocals carry the dynamics and all the explosions. That's what a vocal group should do.

When I first heard the rap line at the beginning of Shout Out, the first thing that popped into my head was that it sounded like a 2PM song. However, the instrumental and the verses sound like something that, yet again, could've been on SHINee's earlier releases. It's basically all rap, and so I can't really give a solid critique on it because it's not really my line. However, I do like the singing parts towards the end - especially Onew's. I like Onew's voice, if you remember.

Personally, I think WOWOWOW is one of SM's plots to remind people that SHINee're still a young band - it's saccharine sweet with autotune thrown in just to make sure. It's a cute song, but not my type. Your Name comes across as rather cheesy at the beginning with the harmonies and the random birds chirping, but it reminds me of something that could've been the slower song an early 2000's pop album circa Mandy Moore. I do like the melody though, it's laid-back but well-done.

I actually kinda really like Life. You see, if you don't have that many ballads on an album I notice the pretty ones more - you don't need to barrage people with ballads for them to know you sing well. The simple piano loop and their vocals made me faint for the nth time - reminds me a bit of DBSK's You Only Love. BUUUUUUT! After the first chorus, the song explodes with a backbeat and en EFFIN'S STRING SECTION. Have I mentioned how much I love string sections? Add SHINee's vocals into the mix and you have a masterpiece. The melody's gorgeous, the arrangement's epic, and ONEW TAKES THE MIDDLE 8. What else do I have to ask for? I gotta say as well, Jonghyun killed the song - like I said, they guy's good but I only like him on certain songs.

I like the club-y vibe Ready Or Not has, and it has more of these Indian-y elements throughout. The hook does it's job, the chorus explodes, and even if a good portion of the song's rapping, they're still singing. That has become a luxury in kpop. Not with SHINee, apparently. GOOD. Love Pain reminds me of a more mature and urgent version of Romantic - the synths and the percussion line are more pronounced on this one, and their vocals have really grown since they recorded the song, so the entire song sounds very mature now. The chorus has a slight resonance, but it doesn't sound very sharp to my hear - it's the right amount of sharpness and flow-y-ness.

It's a good thing Lucifer doesn't end with a ballad - Love Still Goes On is a nice way to wrap the entire album off. It's lively and it's pretty much a reflection of SHINee - they've matured over the years, but this is pretty much how they've always sounded. The character, style and pretty much everything that they've been known for are more or less in this song.

Best Track: Lucifer or A-yo
Better Tracks: Up and Down, Quasimodo, Life, Love Pain, Love Still Goes On
Worst Track: Not a big fan of Electric Heart
The Rating: 4.8/5

18 comments:

  1. AMAZING.

    I missed reading your posts. Like a lot. Haha.

    Love that, "SHINee saved SME's ass" part. Amen to that.

    Haha. Methinks, Lucifer reminds me of DBSK's Mirotic. There's this certain feel to it. Or maybe I just miss my Gods so much, I might die. :(

    And, BoA's comeback is also hanging around the corner, which makes the K-POP scene a bit interesting from the tad it has been last year. :)

    All in all, one awesome review.
    Keep it up, Oh Great N.

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  2. I'm kind of shocked that we are right in line with "A-Yo" and "Obsession". Does this ever happen? We didn't even talk about it! WOOHOO!

    Yes, I humbly bow -- this was much more extensive than mine would ever have been, mostly because you can categorize their voices much better than I can. To be honest, the only voices that stick out are Jong and Onew's. When I watched the video, I was shocked when I saw Taemin and Minho sing (brief lines). I was like WHAAAT THAT'S HIMMMM?

    PS - The Word Verification below is "Stivive" which reminds me of "Survive" which is what you and I both need to be doing at these stressful times of our life. That and "SURB-BI-BERRRRRRRR". ;)

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  3. as you know i am really enjoying Lucifer. A lot. i may even write about it (gasp!). Yyou have finally lured me over!!

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  4. It's interesting how we reviewed the same thing, but our approach was definitely different. I enjoy and completely agree with your statement that SM was saved from your/my/the world's wrath.

    They would've gone down in flames had they screwed this one up.

    Anyway, SHINee IS SM's young group. Even with all the questionable aesthetics and musical styles, they're keeping it 100% youthful. A part of me wants it to stay like that for some reason.

    Thumps up on this review! By the way, Onew wants to be my bias, but Jonghyun just beats him by a hair with that extra twang in his voice (which I briefly explained in my review) so I'll gladly hold on to him while you spoil Onew, haha.

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  5. "You see, if you don't have that many ballads on an album I notice the pretty ones more"

    YES x a million. That's spot-on, Nikki.

    Great review. "Lucifer" is definitely my favorite, "A-Yo" my second favorite, and then maybe, hmm--well, I'm not sure what would come next, but in a good way.

    I wish I had any idea who was singing what, but after years of listening to Girls Aloud, I STILL can't tell most of them apart the majority of the time, so that may be a lost cause.

    It's great to get another write-up from you. Obviously "real life" comes first, but I'm looking forward to when you're back full time.

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  6. Finally awake after reading your review (why did I sleep for 4 hours...why), comprehensive as always!

    Thank you for stating that nearly all SM acts were disasters this year (esp. Nu ABO...all my hype for nothing. At least Mr. Boogie was decent) with this lovely, lovely FULL, stylistically well rounded album.

    I'm really happy about discovering that the boys are getting more involved in song authorship. Jonghyun wrote the lyrics for Obsession and Onew wrote for Your Name! I'm also soooo happy Taemin sings more (though they consistently stick him in before Jonghyun, who sounds really similar in the middle ranges).

    And as much as I initially thought Lucifer sounded like some UKISS song, the instrumental complexity (I counted minimum 4 layers of synths and computerized background whatnots) and the vocals made it fantastic. A little upset about the hair, but a summer win.

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  7. well, i was waiting for your post about "lucifer" but, I'm a little disappointed.No with your post, but, with this album. With SM´s movement... Yes, remembers Mirotic, but, Shinee´s vocal aren´t like DBSK. they can´t harmonize, and always JongHyun ruins, and Taemin fades. With this album, i remenber because i don´t like Shinee. Powerfull voices, but, Poor harmonize and unity.

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  8. I can't agree with youJuly 23, 2010 at 3:58 AM

    Well, for me personally I didn't like Lucifer at all. Some songs were pretty good, but I feel that a lot of songs were just plain bad and for the bad song they just shoved a layer of heavy drums / beats to mask how bad it truly is.

    Lucifer for me is one of those albums where it songs amazing on the first glance but after 3 listens I'm back listening to a DBSK album or something.

    The songs are catchy but they don't stick at all. Some songs are overly funky that they become tacky. And I also felt there was too much electronic sounds for such a vocally talented group.

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  9. I liked there fashion style which features high top sneakers, skinny jeans, and colorful sweaters but when it comes to music with sense, I love Super Junior. They know how to dance and they really represent the pop genre

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  10. ah, I just gotta love your review here!

    and heck yes, SHINee just gotten better and better. tho I like RDD better, idk why I'm addicted to the song Lucifer. but now I do, after reading your post.

    it really got me! it's a surprise that Minho was given more lines in the song. Onew's voice is always attractive as always.
    and Taemin, he might not have that great vocal but to me he's very talented. he's able to show his charisma at such young age. yes, I'm mesmerized by Lucifer.

    I haven't check out the entire album, but I think I'm gonna do it right away after this. thanks for reviewing ^^

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  11. Just one day since I published and I get 10 comments? :DDDDD

    hotspicykimchi - ATE! Awwwww. I do kinda have a hypothesis that this is gonna turn a lot of people into rabid fans like what "Mirotic" did. :D Don't worry, I DO TOO! So, so much.

    Mel - I KNOW! I was surprised when I read your review and you said you liked "A-Yo". I was like O.O! :DDD Nah, we have different styles and you know that. Survive? Kinda reminds me of "Strive", actually. :D Either way works.

    Paul - *dies* OMG PAUL THE DAY YOU WRITE ABOUT KPOP IS GONNA BE EPIC. I wrote a similar comment on PPG though. LOL! Don't you just love it? "LUCIFAAAAAH!"

    McRoth - It's nice to know that I'm not the only one doing "critical" reviews here in kpop land, it really is. You don't know how lonely I was when I first started writing! Really, I would've been ready to pounce on them - after all the crap we've went through with DBSK and the crap songs we got from the surviving acts. Yeah, Onew's mine. LOL. Or at least his voice box is!

    Poster Girl - Awwww! *hugs* (uh-oh, Mel might get angry that I hugged you and not her. Whatever!) I know, I hate that in Korea, just because you have a nice voice you're given an album literally overflowing with ballads - it just pisses me off! We share common favorites then, hurrah! I've missed writing, but now I'm just doing it so I don't self-destruct. :(

    strictlykpop - Thanks for dropping by, I love new readers! :D I do wish they write the music though, not just the lyrics.

    Anonymous and I can't agree with you said - your opinions - I respect that, and I do see your points. Thanks for dropping by, and taking the time to present your opinions in a civilized manner. :D

    healy - :D

    Keisha - Aww, thank you! I love it when I get people to listen to the rest of the album, I feel like my work was "effective". :D

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  12. Of course SM put a lot of effort in SHINee's album. They're baby DBSK, after all. And yeah, I like how SM is slowly letting SHINee grow up, giving them a song like Lucifer, while still keeping their youth. They're not like all the other boybands who have mediocre vocals but get away with it by just flashing their abs.

    SHINee's really underrated when it comes to ballad-singing. Their ballads are beautiful. I like "Obsession," and of course Jonghyun gets the spotlight on it. It's HIS song after all.

    For some reason, I really like "Shout Out." It just stood out to me and I don't really know why, especially since Minho's a sucky rapper anyway. Onew's constant moaning in the background is LOL.

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  13. Haha, though I'm more of a SuJu fan, I gotta admit that SHINee really outdid many artists with just this song and album!!! I thought the chorus of Lucifer was kinda monotonous at first but somehow it was still so catchy and brilliant. Plus, they managed to sing the song well live!!! I really love Onew's voice in this!! I'm still listening to the rest of the album, which I am anticipating ^_^ I just wished SME gave SuJu a song as good as this...

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  14. It's too bad you're not fond of Obsession, that's my favourite song from the album along with the title track and Ready or Not.

    I also think A-yo, Shout Out, Love Still Goes On and Up & Down.

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  15. the album wasn't that good. at all.

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  16. Great review! =] I love how you took note of all the little details in each song. ^^
    haha, & my favorites actually match the ones you listed x D Lucifer & A-Yo :) although those 2 songs being on my top list, overall i enjoyed the whole track to their album =]

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  17. I listened to this album the week it came out and beside 'Lucifer' and 'Quasimodo' nothing really stood out first listen. After I read your review I went back and legitimately listened to it, rather than putting it as background music(I've accepted that most idol kpop albums suck like hangovers). That time 'A-Yo' stuck out and I had it on repeat for days. The thing about this album is every time you listen you notice something else. At the moment I'm really diggin' 'Ready or Not','Shout Out', and 'Love Still Goes On'.

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  18. MYCODE:

    Just name me with that code you see above. I am falling in love with your reviews. Very nicely written.

    Anyway, I love SHINee's voices.... and I am having this album on replay.... until now... and pretty much their other songs and albums... especially the ballad-y ones. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

 

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