Shinee had an outstanding 2015, releasing two of their very best title tracks in the space of a few months. Because of this, anything they followed up with in 2016 would arrive amidst sky high expectations. So instead of going big, they go specific… with the early 90’s new jack swing throwback of 1 Of 1.
Immediately, this move doesn’t feel particularly thrilling or notable. The best Shinee songs consist of big moments strung together by a dynamic sense of razzle dazzle, charisma-dripping showmanship. Rather than building to these expected exclamation marks, 1 Of 1 coasts on its own bubbly nostalgia. This results in a pitch perfect re-creation of the genre they’re targeting, but it’s at the risk of sounding a bit canned and flat. Rather than slavishly recreate, it would have been smart to twist the sound just a bit so that it resulted in something new.
Luckily, this is Shinee we’re talking about, and they have a way of elevating any concept that they tackle. The guys do a convincing job riding the stylized beat, particularly during the second verse rap segment, where the song feels loose and playful. I do wish the instrumentation would have hit harder, à la Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation album (how awesome would that have been?!?), but 1 Of 1 is clearly not meant to be as intense as some of their earlier work. The song’s remarkably simple, earworm chorus feels built to ensure longevity, even as it falls on the lightweight side of their discography. When all is said and done, listener’s opinion of the track may just come down to their feeling about the new jack swing sound itself. I have a predisposition towards this genre, having grown up during the era when it was popularized in the States. But even so, I’m not sure it’s the best choice to take full advantage of Shinee’s immense talent.