To celebrate SHINee’s tenth anniversary, and their recently completed Story of Light project, it’s the perfect time to look back at their impressive catalog of album tracks and b-sides. This was a post I was both looking forward to and dreading. SHINee’s discography is too strong and vast to narrow down to only ten tracks. This results in a list that will constantly be in flux, with many honorable mentions sneaking their way in depending on my mood.
Longtime readers will know the style of music I tend to champion on the Bias List, so don’t be surprised that this is a very uptempo list. I think you’ll find that I’m also hugely biased toward a certain era of SHINee’s career. More than half of the tracks here were released in a single year!
Mr. Right Guy
U Need Me
Who Waits For Love
Ready Or Not
10. JoJo (from 2009, Year of Us – 2009)
JoJo is the oldest track on my list, and earns its place thanks to its gorgeous shimmer of a pure pop chorus. Though not promoted as a single, it easily stands among SHINee’s best work of the era.
9. Chemistry (from The Story of Light– 2018)
Unexpectedly, Chemistry has become The Story of Light’s album track with the most staying power. SHINee take the song’s tropical leanings to new heights with a lush chorus that knows when to pull back and when to surge with powerful force.
8. ABOAB (from Five – 2017)
What ABOAB lacks in melody, it more than makes up for in showstopping production. It’s one of SHINee’s most energetic tracks, throwing down the gauntlet with an assault of funk brass and sledgehammer dance beats.
7. Runaway (from Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You – 2013)
Fueled by retro synth, Runaway’s slinky chorus twists and bends in all the right ways. The song takes advantage of SHINee’s incredible gift for rhythm, arranging their vocals with percussive force.
6. An Encore (from Odd / Married to the Music – 2015)
One of SHINee’s most affecting ballads, made even more so after Jonghyun’s passing. An Encore surges with emotion, cresting as its gorgeous, harmonized chorus hits its breathtaking climax.
5. Password (from Boys Meet U – 2013)
An underappreciated entry from their Japanese discography, Password finds the group tackling anthemic synth rock. Its psychedelic influences sound like nothing else in SHINee’s catalog, and make a surprisingly strong match with their powerful vocals.
4. Queen of New York (from Everybody– 2013)
Taken from my favorite SHINee album, Queen of New York’s disco funk strut allows the group to do what they do best. Its sinuous verses provide the perfect contrast to the bright, synth-laden chorus. This is the kind of timeless dance-pop that plays perfectly to their strengths.
3. Punch Drunk Love (from Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You – 2013)
Composed by my favorite SHINee collaborator, the amazing Thomas Troelsen, Punch Drunk Love is a bass-driven retro funk attack. Its stunning arrangement takes full advantage of the group’s effortless harmonies to deliver one musical climax after another.
2. Hitchhiking (from Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You– 2013)
They rarely make K-pop like Hitchhiking any more. From a production standpoint, it’s an enormous-sounding track. A gritty guitar riff competes with dramatic waves of synth, but it’s SHINee’s powerful vocal blend that really ties it all together.
1. One Minute Back (from Everybody – 2013)
I’m always surprised how rarely One Minute Back is talked about when it comes to SHINee’s discography. To me, it’s one of K-pop’s most experimental tracks, driven by minimalist production almost entirely reliant on percussion. But it’s the vocal arrangement that really impresses here, layering SHINee’s voices in unique ways that play with dynamics and tone. It could have easily come off as a self-indulgent experiment, but the song’s ambition is held in check by a mammoth refrain that becomes more impressive each time it repeats.