Most of the time, a kpop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-side tracks deserve recognition, too. In the singles-oriented world of kpop, I wanted to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
I’m sad to admit that much of Shinee’s latest album (long anticipated by yours truly) feels a bit disappointing. I’m just not a big fan of this 90’s dance throwback sound that seems to be SM’s latest obsession, and I realize this is very much my own personal preference getting in the way. But all it’s really doing for most of the album’s tracks is preventing us from some truly awesome choruses in favor of stuttering beats and repetitive, one-phrase hooks.
U Need Me may not have a dynamite chorus, but apart from the title track, it’s my favorite offering from the album. It arrives late in the running order and, bookended by Shift and So Amazing, represents the most uptempo burst of energy we get from the group this time around. U Need Me is the best example of the 90’s new jack swing beat totally working in Shinee’s favor. It’s got an aggressive kick and an arrangement that takes full advantage of the genre’s potential, splicing live band elements into something that feels incredibly funky and alive. Most importantly, it comes across as an update of this sound rather than a retread, pulling in Shinee’s classic style as much as it explores new territory. I absolutely love the work done on the vocals, layered and cut so that they feel like another central part of the beat. It’s songs like this that will keep me coming back.
It’s funny, most of the time I visit music blogs to see what the writer is excited about. With this blog, I come to see what you’re NOT liking. This isn’t a knock at all – it’s just that our k-pop tastes are very different. So when you described the new SHINee as having a 90s new jack swing sound and said that you were disappointed, I basically started salivating. And I love this album! Front to back, it’s my favourite thing SHINee has done. And I can’t stand what I call “Ciara Syndrome” – using one-phrase hooks as your chorus – but aside from maybe a track, I don’t really notice that here. Anyway, I hope your tastes don’t change, cuz then I won’t have a clue what to listen to 😉
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Thanks, Luke! One of the reasons I decided to start this blog was that I found my tastes diverging from those of almost every podcast and site I visited. Sometimes I feel that I’m in the minority with some things, but it’s nice to know that you’re willing to hear me out even if our tastes don’t necessarily always match.
Also, to clarify… I ADORE new jack swing. Janet’s Rhythm Nation album may be my favorite album of all time, and that incorporates a lot from the genre. 1 Of 1 (song and album) is growing on me, but my quibbles aren’t so much about the genre as they are about the fact that I wish the music had more impact.