SHINee - "The 3rd Album Chapter 2. 'Why So Serious? - The Misconceptions Of Me'"

I think you know by now that whenever I'm going through a dry spell with reviews and my writing, the person I go to for inspiration and help is my good friend-slash-amazing writer-slash-long-lost twin, Ree (who's back writing for SeoulBeats!). First because we're both into K-Pop and we both do reviews and editorials, but also because we're also on practically the same wavelength as far as approaches are concerned. If you read last year's EXO review which also featured her, you know that while our tastes do deviate at times, we have similar opinions on things, and that balance between similarity and difference makes for good reviews.

Which is why, this time, Ree is joining me yet again for a review of SHINee's "Why So Serious? - The Misconceptions Of Me'", something we've been planning since we were both disappointed by part 1.

Nikki: It's good to see more good material from SHINee again.
Ree: It really is. I think they have sort of plateaued. But they know how to work with it. Man, I just realised SHINee release two full albums in the span of two months. These songs were probably recorded along with the Part I ones. The difference in quality is staggering.
Nikki: Well, if this was 2000, 18 tracks would be one album T_T
Ree: LOL. If it was one 18 track album, then it'd be a pretty mediocre one.
Nikki: Yeah, which makes me wonder where they got the songs from Part 1 when they knew the Part 2 stuff existed.
Ree: Instead of one bleh long full album.
Nikki: Yeah that's true.
Ree: It's one mediocre full album, and one really good one. How many tracks was Lucifer?
Nikki: Thirteen
Ree: Man, there's only 9 tracks on Chapter 2. THAT'S A SINGLE DIGIT. COP. OUT.
Nikki: Albums have gotten a lot shorter these days. Remember when 12 tracks was short? D:
Ree: I know!


Nikki: So I didn't really like Nightmare when I first heard it, it's monotonous bordering on annoying, then it started reminding me of something from Part 1. I like that it's trying to be cohesive and I kind of get it now, but as an individual song I'm not impressed.
Ree: I really love the atmosphere of it. It's really sinister, and I think that came across well. And the autotune was used to distort their voices was done really well. I appreciate what they're trying to do with ”Nightmare”, and I see what it adds to the mini-album. In that sense, it's a suitable first track. But I agree that as an individual stand-alone song, it's not that great. The melody isn't very striking -- it's ambience is really what keeps it from falling flat for me.
Nikki: But I would've liked a stronger opening, because if I wasn't a fan or wasn't listening to this for a review I would've stopped listening here.
Ree: It gets tiring to listen to though, I agree. I feel as though it drags on quite a bit.
Nikki: Yeah they deliver the ambiance well, like you said the technical aspects are pretty spot-on, but as a song it has to go beyond technical proficiency, and it didn't do that for me. I do get it as part of a package.
Ree: No, I totally see what you mean. Looking past it from a critical point of view, and in terms of how much I enjoy the song, it's not much of a winner for me either. The melody is kind of annoying, if I was to be honest.
Nikki: Jonghyun's falsetto is annoying too.
Ree: IT IS. I was debating on whether or not to say that. It gets exhausting to hear in the chorus.
Nikki: I get that it gives the song some contrast because it's high and the song is subdued, but it's giving it in all the wrong ways that it becomes screechy. He sounds like a dying chicken or something.
Ree: It's pretty much a nightmare to listen to, so props to keeping with the theme. Geddit? Geddit? Do I get brownie points?
Nikki: Hahahaha maybe SM wanted this to be a nightmare, literally.
Ree: It's like nails on a blackboard. So in conclusion; technically and conceptually proficient, but as an experience borderline flat out annoying.
Nikki: Basically, yeah.

“Why So Serious?”

Nikki: What about Why So Serious??
Nikki: It's single material all right, and it sounds like a SHINee song but I'm disappointed too. They bring nothing new to the table.
Ree: It's just so loud. The excess of brass and it's determination to sound as showtuney as possible makes it a really boring listen.
Nikki: It's kind of like what I thought about Part 1 -- there's cohesion, there's having an identity and there's doing one thing over and over again and not bothering to innovate.
Ree: Yeah, it's a poor derivative of "Sherlock" to me. I'm not sure if its just me, but the song feels way too cluttered? Like there's too many components all compressed into 3:35 minutes.
Nikki: Yeah I agree -- it's very noisy. There's too much happening at the same time and so you don't get to savor anything nor do any of the individual elements get a chance to really stand out.
Ree: It's definitely a song that is meant to be made by it's performance -- and I WISH SM WOULD STOP DOING THAT.
Nikki: It's not jam-packed in the sense that you're at the edge of the seat in anticipation, it's the kind that changes before you even get the chance to get to the edge of your seat.
Ree: Yeah, everything pretty much flies past you and you're left in a tizz trying to figure out what's happening.
Nikki: I haven't seen the video yet, but I don't know, I don't think the chaos would be that good visually either. But I could be wrong?
Ree: I sort of like the choreography for it. I mean, it's a really loud song, and I think it's the kind of sing you need to watch the five of them to perform in high energy. So that you're not really focusing on the song, but in the delivery. But all in all, "Why So Serious?" is really abrasive and annoying to listen to.
Nikki: And noisy.
Ree: Yeah. It's also a lazy choice for a title track in my opinion.
Nikki: If they cleaned it up a bit it wouldn't be that bad. Not stellar or anything, but still.
Ree: It's like Secret promoting "Madonna", then "Love is Move", and then "Poison".
Nikki: Classic case of overdoing the cashing in on what sells.
Ree: Did "Sherlock" sell though? I thought "Ring Ding Dong" and "Dream Girl" were their highest charting songs.
Nikki: Good question lol. I'm not sure.
Ree: I don't know. See, I think Why So Serious? is really focused on sounding as showtuney as possible. To the point where that's all I take away from it.
Nikki: Yeah but show tunes aren't necessarily noisy either.
Ree: It was trying to be too Showtuney. All flash, no substance. It has no breathing room.
Nikki: Yeah I think the "all style no substance" statement really applies to ”Why So Serious?”.
Ree: There's also SO MUCH Taemin in the Music Video. He takes all of Jonghyun's parts. And although I love his voice, it irritates me. Not going to lie.
Nikki: I heard a lot of bad things about the video actually. Maybe I should watch it after we're done. Well I mean anyone who screeches like that is bound to sound irritating.
Ree: I'm so done with TaeMAN. Everything about this song is over-saturation.
Nikki: And to think that earlier this year I was planning to say that K-Pop was getting a lot quieter (Infinite H, Sistar 19, etc.)
Ree: If only. Not with SM, man.
Nikki: It doesn't hurt to hope? But anyway yeah, ”Why So Serious?” isn't that hot.
Ree: Next song?
Nikki: Yup

“SHINe (Medusa Ⅰ)”

Nikki: After two mediocre tracks, Medusa was the first track that gave me hope that the album would shape up. It's not as stunning as some of the other tracks, but considering what came before it this is good enough.
Ree: Could do without that long-ass epic buildup. The chorus sounds so 90s! It's such old-school K-pop.
Nikki: Yeah I don't quite get that part either.
Ree: I really like the pre-chorus, it's a great build-up.
Nikki: Yes! And the verses are really strong as well.
Ree: My friend Gaya said it reminded her a lot of Shinhwa, and I totally agree.
Nikki: Yes! But I like that even if it's very late 90's/early 2000's, it still kind of sounds like SHINee.
Ree: Yeah! I'm not sure if it's just their delivery or the combination of voices, but it is very SHINee.
Nikki: It has an edge to it, which I think is because of the production, that brings it forward to the present.
Ree: It wouldn't be my choice as the song to promote along with "Why So Serious?", but I like it.
Nikki: Yeah me neither. This is more of a novel song to have on an album rather than something to promote. But I like it as that, because it's novel with substance.
Ree: Yeah, it's really good for a B-Side track, and I like that it's not a filler. I mean, it is a bit of a filler. But it's one with thought put in it.
Nikki: I would listen to this again, unlike the first two tracks.
Ree: Same here. Though I'm not a fan of how it transfers on stage. But that's another can of worms.


Ree: Can we talk about my absolute love for "Orgel"?
Nikki: Really? I'm not so in love with it.
Ree: You know I'm a sucker for ambience and atmosphere, right? I love that it's so lulling and whimsical. It's just so soothing and anaesthetic to listen to.
Nikki: Okay, yeah this song has a nice aura. Well at least they went beyond the technical on this song. I like bits it like that middle 8 with the xylophone scales, that was amusing.
Ree: I got really immersed in the song when I first heard it. As someone who's sleep-deprived and stressed a good 3/4 of the day, a song that's as pensive as this is just really nice to listen to it. Minho's rap doesn't even annoy me that much.
Nikki: Listening to it again I think this is a song you have to sit down, pay attention to, and think about. I didn't like it that much at first, but listening to it again I get it, and this is the kind of song you have to understand to appreciate. I like it a lot more now actually.
Ree: Yeah, I think you need to have a particular appreciation for the aura and atmosphere of the song to really like it. Because I'll be real, the melody itself isn't striking or heartbreaking. I mean, if you made an acoustic/piano version of this song, it certainly wouldn't come close to being as good as it is now. It's the way they sing, the xylophone in the background, the harmonies, everything ties itself well together.
Nikki: I like that about the song, actually -- it's a song that needs all the elements to make sense. This won't be a classic with a detachable melody that transcends time or anything, but more of an artifact -- this is what K-Pop was putting out in 2013, and it was actually pretty good.
Ree: It's more than just those frivolous pop tunes that K-pop sometimes puts out (I'M SORRY. I swear this is the only time I'll be pretentious in this review). It's really about everything, the small attention to details add to the overall experience.
Nikki: Haha yeah I agree. As much as I hate the divide between pop and "art", this is definitely more on the "art" side. (Though still very much pop!)
Ree: You can punch me for being pretentious later, lmfao.
Nikki: Like, we can think critically about pop songs, but there are some songs, like "Orgel", that have more to think critically about. That's the least pretentious way I can put it lol.
Ree: You're a lit student man, if anyone has a right to be pretentious. Then it's totally you.
Nikki: HEY
Nikki: I am not pretentious! :(
Ree: You aren't! But you totally could be and it'd be perfectly fine. I'm a badly dressed and sleepy CompSci student. So when I'm pretentious it's just annoying.
Nikki: Okay :D Why don't we just be pretentious together so it'll be okay for both of us? ;D
Ree: Sounds good ;D

“Dangerous (Medusa Ⅱ)”

Nikki: But back to the review lol. I've been itching to talk about "Dangerous" since a while ago.
Ree: SAME. Dude, I've just been dying for us to talk about it. When I heard it in the highlight melody I almost fell over. Because it had the last part of the chorus sampled.
Nikki: This was that BIG moment in the album where I went "OKAY SHINEE NOW WE'RE TALKING"
Ree: It was so smooth. SAME. I'm all over it.
Nikki: I love love love love it. I've been sneaking in listens while we wrap up songs, but I'm afraid that if I listen to it too much I'll get sick of it.
Ree: So have I :x I've been playing this and "Sleepless Nights" while we were complaining about "Why So Serious?" and ”Nightmare”.
Ree: I love this song. It's so gritty, but it's really smooth as well. Those interceptions of 'aright' during the verses by the way, isn't it so boyband?
Nikki: I agree with everything you said lol.
Ree: If I had any complaint, then I wish instead of Minho's rap we could have a stunning Middle 8 instead.
Nikki: I love that it has that very SHINee smoothness with punch.
Ree: SHINee's voices were made for this song. Yes! They have so much colour and smoothness in it. The crooning of "Dangerous" just slides.
Nikki: I know! It's classy pop, but it's nowhere near boring.
Ree: It's also so boyband, but not in a generic way?
Nikki: This is one of those "excuse me while I melt into a puddle of goo" songs. Yeah. It's interesting, and that melody oh dear that melody.
Ree: It pretty much threw me off my foot as soon as the prechorus started.
Nikki: Like can you imagine their choreography with mic stands and sways and hand gestures? *melts*
Ree: I was really afraid it wouldn't live up to how much I loved it in the medley. And yeah, I kinda wish the instrumental during the verses was a bit smoother, but that's really just nitpicking. Because I LOVE this song and I don't know what else to say apart from that.
Nikki: As much as the choruses are heavenly, I actually love that the verses lay low before the explosion.
Ree: It really makes good use of their vocals, because I can't imagine Infinite pulling this of as well as SHINee did here. I love the pre-chorus for that reason. It's restrained and smooth, and man all I want to do is forego the technicals and keyboard smash.
Nikki: Yeah. It sounds like an Infinite song on the surface, but the more you listen to it the more you realize that Infinite has a very distinct style, and this song has another very distinct sound. I know! When I hear the chorus I just wanna stop whatever I'm doing and smile like a crazy fangirl (which I am not. A SHINee fangirl, I mean.)
Ree: Infinite tends to be really shrill, actually. If they sang this song it'd lose a lot of it's smoothness.
Nikki: But Infinite are great too, in a different way. <3
Ree: I love Infinite! But in terms of vocals, they're no SHINee.
Nikki: Yeah that's true.
Ree: I love them more in every other way though, hehe. At least they aren't detached co-worker idols. But SHINee is still putting out songs like this, so I can't complain.
Nikki: And SM still thinks SHINee are worth spending money for some good material like this on, so I'm okay.
Ree: I really wish SHINee made this their title track. It's subdued but still carries a lot in it. It never really explodes, and that's what I like about it. It doesn't need to be loud to make a statement. It just has a beautiful and smooth melody and it gets the job done. But what's a SHINee title track if you can't have Jonghyun belting obnoxiously in it, am I right? =_=
Nikki: That's a really good idea actually. Some album tracks are definitely not single material, but "Dangerous" is.
Ree: I don't think it'll be the same high-energy party on stage like ”Why So Serious?” is. But it's undoubtedly a better song, and there's still interesting things they could have done with it visually.
Nikki: Honestly, I think the contrast between the quiet and the more elaborate parts would work well on stage. But that's me, K-Pop A&R people have different mindsets.
Ree: I really like Jonghyun in "Dangerous". I actually really want him back, he makes up a lot of SHINee's stage presence. Jonghyun can sing really smoothly when he wants to, but SM makes him whine and do a bunch of ugly things with his voice.
Nikki: Yeah he's had his moments of glory. He's proof that no matter how good a singer you are if you don't get the right material that voice won't show.
Ree: lol, I love how hesitant that sounded. You'll just never love Jonghyun's voice, am I right? Totally fair.
Nikki: Hahahahaha I tried?
Ree: I was actually surprised that Minho sounded pretty good here. Like usually his singing sound really congested and he sounds like he has a cold. But his bit after Key's in the first pre-chorus was pretty nice.
Nikki: Yeah, I'm curious how that sounds live without all the processing. Because if there's one thing I can always count on SM to deliver, it's really good vocal processing.
Ree: But not like stunning enough to warrant both top comments on the video I'm listening to.
Nikki: hahahaha
Ree: lmao, setting the standards low so the smallest improvements blow everyone away. aaah, Minho. Yeah, the A&R on this track is really great, like for everything SM does.
Nikki: How dare you demean Minho! He's too busy with sports and rapping to practice singing! He took time out of his packed schedule to work on his voice! lolololololol :D ...was that too mean? D:
Ree: LMAO. Maybe a bit? ;P But it's not like his own band doesn't mock him mercilessly anyway. Like seriously, they get second-hand embarrassment.
Nikki: lol Oh Minho. Well in his defense he does sound okay on this track. But considering that he's been around for 5 years now...
Ree: Baby steps. But yeah, I actually wouldn't mind if he sang more in this track.
Nikki: Yeah. Like if in the future Onew sings the whole song alone or something Minho's parts will probably sound a lot better, but Minho on this track is okay.
Ree: That's the obligatory Minho discussion over and done with.

“Like A Fire”

Nikki: aaaaaanyway. Can we please please please talk about my favorite song.
Ree: "Like a Fire"? I like it, but I don't think it's my favourite.
Nikki: YES *weird fangirling sounds* I love it. It's so lively and springy and the build-up really makes the chorus even more stunning.
Ree: The chorus sounds really reminiscent of something else. So old school. A lot of the tracks on this album are really 90s, actually.
Nikki: I know that's exactly why I love it huhuhu Ree I'm listening to the chorus now and I'm meltiiiiiiing. The chorus is so "I'm Every Woman", actually.
Ree: Forget 90s, it's 80s. Yeah it really is. o-O It’s a really good song. Between this, "Orgel", "Dangerous" and one other song that I love, this album tramples over Chapter 1.
Nikki: It has conviction all throughout, even during the quieter parts. But when it explodes it really does explode. At the same time I also really like how this is the "cool" kind of explosion like "Dangerous". It doesn't just throw everything towards you, it has style.
Ree: Yeah, the chorus isn't yelling per say, but it's really charged. So much energy through it.
Nikki: Sorry, I'm fangirling over this too much. D:
Ree: No, it's fine man. Remember me during "Orgel". Haha. I'm just trying to figure out what to say about it. And when we both fangirl we got that long stream like we had during "Dangerous". Like, I totally understand why you love "Like a Fire". I really like it too, it's just that i've never been head-over-heels for that kind of style.

Ree: I love how SHINee are really upgrading these traditionally 90s/80s sounds
Nikki: Yeah I was gonna say that we've mentioned a lot of other styles over the course of the review but it always followed with "this still sounds like SHINee"
Ree: But it isn't derivative SHINee the way a lot of Chapter 1 was. It's innovative and it varies.
Nikki: Yeah. This is how identity should work -- as a framework and not something to copy off of.
Ree: I also really like how cohesive this album is. I actually think ”Why So Serious?” just sticks out like a sore thumb. Amongst everything else, it seems lost.
Nikki: Yeah. It's like they chose the lead single separately from when they did the A&R for the album.
Ree: They probably did, ha. They didn't build the album around it. Which I'm grateful for.
Nikki: Yeah. But they should've chosen the lead single based on the album :(
Ree: Definitely, but how often to K-pop companies do that.
Nikki: hah. haha. Hahaha. I was just being optimistic. The lead single ruined a perfectly good album. If I heard ”Why So Serious?” first, then I wouldn't bother with the album at all.
Ree: Like, when I was listening to the Medley. After my first listen I remember thinking how CRAP the medley sounded since it began and ended with ”Why So Serious?”. Then I listened to it again, the individual parts in between, and I was surprised at how good the samples actually were.
Nikki: hahahaha I've been MIA, it's a miracle I even knew the album was out before you told me!

“Excuse Me Miss”

Ree: Have we talked about "Excuse Me Miss" yet by the way?
Nikki: Also we got sidetracked I forgot we still have 3 songs to talk about D:
Ree: Yeah, I just realised, lmfao. Okay, I feel like I should like "Excuse Me Miss" a lot more than I do. It's okay for me.
Nikki: Yeah I'm not drooling over it, but it's okay.
Ree: I get the style they're going for, and it suits them. And they pull it off. But it's just a typical RnB track, really.
Nikki: After hearing two songs with overflowing punch, this is kind of...flat. It's passable on it's own.
Ree: Nothing I haven't heard before to be honest.
Nikki: Yeah, like a better filler track.
Ree: I feel like so many K-pop groups have songs like this on their discography at least once. SHINee has done better derivatives of this.
Nikki: Doesn't SHINee already have something like this?
Ree: That lounge-room kind of RnB song. Yeah, and it was probably better.
Nikki: It's not devastatingly bad, but it's not on par with some of the other songs.
Ree: Yeah. It's a filler, but an alright one I can live through. I actually feel like on mediocre albums, tracks like "Excuse Me Miss” are like the safety net that you're bound to not dislike.
Nikki: I wouldn't listen to it again, but if I had to it would be a painless experience.
Ree: I mean, the style has been done so many times before, but it's a classy and sophisticated style. That isn't too hard to pull off.
Nikki: But can easily get boring.
Ree: Yeah, so on good albums they just get so blah. But if it was on uBeat's mini, it'd definitely be one of the better tracks. Simply on the grounds of what it is and the style it is. Not even that I'm engrossed by it or anything.
Nikki: Hahaha you really had to find a way to throw in uBeat :D
Ree: >:(
Nikki: I'm just amused! Can I not be amused?
Ree: You can be amused. I can remain angry at uBeat for existing. Brave Brothers made one of the favourite K-pop songs this year (the self-effacing "Gone, Not Around Any Longer" by SISTAR19), I think by the time he got around to uBeat he was just out of juice.
Nikki: You have to remember that this is the same man who wrote the classic "Because Of You" and the horrid "Push Push" months apart.
Ree: I know. It's amazing. Like, he can make some really beautiful songs. Then he can epically suck the next minute.
Nikki: Oh well.


Nikki: Anyway, I really like "Evil".
Ree: I think the problem with me is I love the opening of "Evil" so much that I couldn't bring myself to love the rest of the song as much.
Nikki: I like the bridge less than I do the other parts of the song.
Ree: That opening though! So creepy and sinister.
Nikki: The "evil"'s at the chorus are annoying, but as a whole I really like the melody and the arrangement.
Ree: To me "Evil" is a better version of ”Nightmare”.
Nikki: Yeah, it's dark in the right places, but also lively and light where it has to be.
Ree: The same kind of aura and technical proficiency. But I feel like the chorus gets really redundant after a while.
Nikki: It's not this heavy blob of darkness like ”Nightmare”.
Ree: Heavy blob of darkness, LOL. Yeah. The melody is more lively and gritty.
Nikki: It is! A heavy blob of darkness. "Evil" has dynamics, but it still has that dark aura to it.
Ree: I liked Evil better after listening to it a few more times. But the first time I felt like I was just listening to 'Evil' 'Evil' 'Evil' 'Evil'. I just love the bit by Taemin and Jonghyun in the opening and then again before the middle-8.
Nikki: Yeah the hook is really overpowering. I know. I love the verses, actually. They're forceful, but graceful.
Ree: The chorus really kills it for me. Compared to the rest of the song, it feels like too much. I loved that ominous beginning.
Nikki: To me it's okay as it is, but had they made the chorus a bit thinner it would've been easier on the ears.
Ree: And I like that break after the second chorus where it mellows out. It was a good break to my ears. The chorus felt over-produced, really compact.
Nikki: Yeah. This song will translate well on a concert stage I think. Like, there's a lot happening, but you still know it's the same song. At least the whole thing isn't too compact like ”Why So Serious?”
Ree: I can appreciate what it was going for though, and I really liked it until the chorus appeared. It's a lot better than ”Nightmare”. I like it okay, but I felt like it could have easily been better.
Nikki: Yeah, and I genuinely like the melody. I'd listen to this again, albeit less than "Dangerous" and "Like A Fire".
Ree: I like the melody of everything BUT the chorus. It's too hammering and hook-ish.

“Sleepless Night”

Nikki: Last song! I was not expecting "Sleepless Night" to be the way it is, honestly.
Ree: It could slot easily into SHINee's first album.
Nikki: This is like "Life" 2.0, in all the right ways. And I have openly professed my undying love for "Life" countless times before.
Ree: The unfortunately named "SHINee World". That fact, plus the melody itself, makes me feel really sad. In a good way. It stirs me a lot. It'd be so easy for it to be a generic ballad. I mean, the piano, the strings, the instrumental isn't anything that dynamic. But god that melody.
Nikki: Honestly when I heard that cheesy jazz piano line I braced myself for the worst, but then that gorgeous melody came in and I melted. Again.
Ree: Those harmonies. So beautiful. Exactly! You know how much I hate ballads right? I was prepared to be bored.
Nikki: I know! I mean DBSK harmonies are on another level, but SHINee harmonies can and are pretty damn good too.
Ree: Their voices are very colourful. They can make the dullest ballads sound vibrant. And when they get melodies like this, my heart breaks in all the right ways
Nikki: I like how even if the melody is soft and graceful, it still has conviction. It's not flat, and that, plus their voices, make the song really, really stunning.
Ree: It's a bittersweet note to end the album on for me. Because it reminds me SO MUCH of their early days. Ending the album with it, makes me feels weirdly sad and nostalgic.
Nikki: It does! Stop it you're making me sad. :(
Ree: I CAN'T HELP IT. I don't even stan SHINee, but man this song really leaves a strange heart stirring impact after what's a pretty strong album. See for me, a lot of these songs are a lot maturer than the kind of songs SHINee used to sing. It's been a slow and gradual evolution, but they're very "now" SHINee.
Nikki: It's a good end to the album though, if they had stuck this in the middle it wouldn't have the effect it does now. Yeah. That's what I like about their music, they've changed a lot, but it's a change you only notice if you listen to the oldest and the most recent.
Ree: So to have the album end on something so reminiscent of their older stuff makes me feel really wistful. Yeah, I mean. I don't stan SHINee, but I'm surprised myself at how emotionally attached I am to their music. Sleepless Night is a really good way to end the album. It's more than just the obligatory ballad.
Nikki: Maybe it's because they're one of the groups we managed to follow from early on?
Ree: I'm not sure if the A&R team intended for it to have the specific effect it had on me, lol. But hey. Yeah, i think that's why. They debuted around when I got into K-pop.
Nikki: Yeah me too.

Nikki: Anyway. Conclusions? I'm still half-and-half on the album as a whole. There are some really amazing songs on the LP, I can't deny them that, but it took three mediocre tracks to get to those. I'm torn because on one hand, those songs are really amazing and the album ended really well, but on the other hand, a strong album is strong from beginning to end, not from the halfway point onwards.
Ree: Even if I don't love every single song on this album; I appreciate what almost every song on this album is trying to do. As a whole Chapter 2 really is what SM said it would be, it's darker, more mellow, slightly sinister, and I think that's what really makes me like the album. The first three tracks weren't great, but from the beginning I think the album had a good idea of what it wanted to be. ”Why So Serious?” was a serious blip in the entire thing, and it really does ruin a lot of the experience. But there are some really good songs here.

Nikki: Yeah, I'm definitely going to have half of the songs on repeat for a while.
Ree: Besides, liking 6/9 tracks is pretty good.
Nikki: But I guess my standards were raised by the presence of the good songs? They're such good songs, that I want other songs that were on the same level.
Ree: I'm not sure the album is that cohesive in style, apart from being very SHINee. But in terms of maturity, I think it is. In retrospect a lot of this album was really sombre. It just makes me angrier ”Why So Serious?” exists.
Nikki: Me too. But I guess we really can't have it all. :(
Ree: Maybe because Chapter 1 is so bleh, and personally I didn't like Sherlock, but I thought this release was pretty strong. It's their strongest release in a while in my opinion. Shows a fair amount of growth too.
Nikki: It's a lot better than their more recent stuff, definitely. And I think this is one step away from that plateau they hit with part 1.

Nikki: Speaking of their older stuff now I want to listen to "Lucifer" again. :D
Ree: Same, actually~ The growth from "Lucifer" is interesting. Like a song like "A-Yo" would be soooo out of place in this album, even if it is great.
Nikki: I'm listening to "A-Yo" right now did you read my mind or something
Ree: HAHA. "A-Yo" is one of my favourite SHINee songs ever :x
Nikki: ME TOO.
Ree: It makes me feel so happy :3 Really lifts up my spirits.
Nikki: And "Life" and "WOWOWOW". Actually that entire album was really good.
Ree: Yeah, it was!

Ree: By the way do you think ”Why So Serious?” has that many rock elements? Apart from the guitar at the beginning, I didn't think it was that rock at all. To me it was more show-tuney, like all the brass.
Nikki: I was about to say "...what rock". The guitars, yeah, but just the guitars, which is one element among 29473289573489573489 million that you can hardly hear.
Ree: Everyone is saying it's rock, but apart from the guitar there's not much at all.
Nikki: You know how I get annoyed when people call something "jazz" when it's boring and has a sax line? The same with rock -- just because it's noisy and has a token electric guitar doesn't mean it's rock. Like you said it sounds more show-tuney. It's the arrangement, that chorus, and the vocals. I can't even hear the drum line clearly, I have to strain to even catch parts of it.
Ree: Yeah, definitely. SM calling it rock is soooo ship. Like when they called "A-cha" House or something. Like LMFAO.
Nikki: I legit LOL-ed when you reminded me of that.

Nikki: Anyway, we wandered again. Basically, Part 2 is much, much better that Part 1, and is a good album on it's own. All things considered.
Ree: We get so tangental. Sorry, editing this is going to be a ”Nightmare” >.<" Overall rating? 4.5/5 for me.
Nikki: 4.5
Ree: :D
Nikki: didn't we also have the same rating for the EXO EP?
Ree: Yeah we did. HEEEE.
Nikki: yayyyyyyy
Ree: We disagree on small details, but we're almost on spot on the bigger picture. Well, we are on spot.
Nikki: Yup! And it also helps that we're long-lost twins.
Ree: <3


  1. I don't think there is one person who DOESN'T love Orgel. That song really is the best song of the album!

    Great post between you and Ree, Nikki! :) I also think Sleepless Night, Nightmare, Evil and Dangerous are great tracks.

  2. I totally agreed with most of what you both had to say about this album, and I am so, so glad, that a K-pop group has taken on darker pop recently. Honestly though, I've been playing "Like a Fire" and "Evil" on infinite loop, and the songs that I didn't care for initially have been growing on me so much, it's turning out to be my favorite album right now. (I.e.I wouldn't pass on "Nightmare" yet, Nikki.) "Why So Serious?" will be in eternal mediocrity, but what is one bad song out of eight good ones?

    Ree, Nikki, you guys are both awesome, and I always look forward to your reviews!

  3. Aww, another collab from Ree and Nikki!

    And Nikki, let me join you in fangirling over 'Like a Fire'. I AM SO IN LOVE WITH IT. The melody, the style, it's so 80s, which is my favorite era after 90s, to be honest. Onew's and Jonghyun's adlib sound so smooth, and I am loving every single part of it.

    *guh, I can go on and on fangirling over this one track.

  4. aw man, that jab at the co-worker idols really hit home. I saw the articles too but my fangirl heart is banshee screaming, hoping that they were just going through a phase or that it ain't true. Sigh...i mean I can't deny the legibility of those comments. At least they're being upfront verses about their relationships, though i'm going to take any subtle hints of deep friendships and brotherly bond and run with it as far as I can. thanks for the review~


Want to share any of your thoughts on the above post? Drop a comment here! I read all comments and reply occasionally, especially if you have specific questions for me. :D

Note that comments are moderated. Spam, self-advertising (K-Pop-related and otherwise) and overly vulgar submissions will NOT be accepted. If you want me to promote/endorse/follow/link to your site, please e-mail me at instead.


Recent Tweets

Like Pop Reviews Now on Facebook!

Statistics (Since May 2009)

Music - Top Blogs Philippines Follow on Bloglovin

Blog Archive

You're reading an award-winning blog

The K-Pop Writers' Workshop

A workshop for writers of critical pieces on Korean entertainment -- formal reviews, expository essays/Op-eds, and personal essays/Creative Non-Fiction.
Learn from the best in K-Ent writing