#2: SHINee - Lucifer

Several people have guessed that this would be my #1 song, but I'm afraid it isn't - keep guessing! Although that most definitely does not mean that it's not any good. It's more than good actually, it's fantastic.

When I first got into kpop last year, I was concentrated on learning the history and grasping the sound throughout the years. This year, because I had already practically mastered the history and was writing about what would become history, I was concentrating on looking at current k-pop, sound-wise. And the result of that? My current opinion on Lucifer.

I and a whole swarm of bloggers adore the song to bits, obviously, and practically the entire blogosphere, fans included, went wild with the release of this. When I brought out my review I was focused on the song itself, and there's obviously nothing wrong with that, because all anyone had at that point was the song. The technicalities of the song were spot-on - the production brilliant, the arrangement very tight and the delivery fantastic.

Question my taste level all you want, I still think that Lucifer is one of the, if not the, most solid and representative pop songs South Korea has brought out this year. Lucifer is another one of those "this is where kpop is" songs, but unlike the others that I just accept, I adore Lucifer. In a sense, it's because of songs like this that I'm still writing about kpop.

Lucifer is a feast to the ears and an absolute pleasure to listen to, whether recorded or live, and you don't have to say that "oh, I like it better live" or "oh, the recording's a gazillion times better" because the song allows for both mediums to sound fantastic in their own ways.

Which brings me to a point that I heard my dad raise earlier this year - a recording is different from a live performance. OK, of course it is, but if you think about it, there are times when I, and a lot of other people, compare the two then deem one inferior. But you can't do that. OK, you can, but logically speaking you can't. You've all heard of hi-fi, right? High Fidelity, it means that you somewhat "strive" for what's called a "real" sound, a recording that's closest to the actual sound of instruments, whether they be voice, drums or whatever. I only found out what it really meant when my dad raised that point.

So everyone goes on and on and on about hi-fi, speakers are advertised with it and equipment guaranteed to provide hi-fi, but with all this recording technology nowadays, it's hard to differentiate real from not? The vocals, like any other pop song this year, have been put through processing - whether obvious or not. The instrumental is 75% computerized at the very least and all the instruments have also gone through computer processing. Can you call these real? WHAT IS REAL?

But anyway. In simpler terms, the point I'm trying to make is that critique-ing live performances and recordings can no longer go hand-in-hand - you cannot compare them anymore, because the recording studio and the performance studio are two different environments, and their technologies have gone in two different directions.

So what does this have to do with Lucifer? Well, it has proven that point. SHINee are fantastic live singers and performers - they know exactly how to sell a song, and they do it extremely well. Other bands of their stature are still struggling with vocals (ahem2PMahem), but these guys just sing like it's second nature, and it's supposed to be. But no matter how good they are live, the trends dictate that their vocals be processed, obvious or not. There is a difference between their live performances and their recordings. They sound good on both, of course, but good in different ways.

I do have one tiny little problem with the song though, that has ultimately prevented it from being fiercer competition with my top song of the year. I got a physical copy of the Korean release of Lucifer for Christmas a few days ago (along with Rising Sun! My cousin just came back from Korea), and I noticed something very interesting about it - I listened to the album on my dad's nice speakers and I noticed that Lucifer has no depth. I listened to Rising Sun (the single, let's be specific) before that, and I heard things I had never heard on the MP3s - the CD quality version of Lucifer was essentially the same sound, except for the fact that everything was crisper. It's not that big a problem if you look at it, but for me it makes all the difference - I value the little details in a song, it's what separates CD from digital for now, and what makes CD much more superior.


  1. I was also surprised you put Lucifer so far into your Top 50 but you gotta admit, it is a great song in 2010 and a HUGE change to SHINee.

  2. I'm glad that you didn't choose Shinee to be at the top of the list but I have to admit that this is THE song that (I think) really made them who they are as a group this year. It made me notice them more... :)

    Hmm... I wonder who's at the spot... ;)

  3. Since the beginning you started this countdown,i had this strong feeling that the top spot will be none other than a song of THIS album. I have been stalking you since several days ago to make sure you haven't put it up yet and yes, IT hasn't got any spot, so i think my prediction is right because it's impossible you don't put any song of THIS album on this list XD i have read your review about THE album and you gave it perfect mark, so yeah... let it be in the top spot!!

    and for Lucifer, well,i'm not too fond of it. oh, actually i'm not really into al idols thingy, but among other idol group, i admit SHinee is talented one.

  4. yeah, it's your blog, it's your list, and shinee are pretty great at performing live. but I'm still shaking my head and seriously puzzled at lucifer being this high on a top 50 list. a top 50 for not just the year's kpop releases, but kpop AND a select collection of non-korean music released to that point.

    strip down lucifer to its core, and what you're left with is this. or better yet, this, a wonderful embodiment of how well-composed the chorus is.

    "lucifer has no depth" is an absolute understatement. you're telling me that only one song - all year - is better than one that a three year old could compose. blindfolded. I'm sorry, but for all it being a "feast to the ears and an absolute pleasure to listen to" (I've been guilty of looping this song as well), putting a song based almost entirely on ONE note in second place is arguably one of the most massive slaps to the face to people who actually make use of more than one piano key in their work.

    I'm sure there are other songs like this, too; doesn't make it any more justified.


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