Song Review: Onew (SHINee) – Blue

The much-dreaded (but inevitable) SHINee hiatus begins next week when leader Onew will begin to serve his mandatory military conscription. Before that, he’s gifted fans with his very first solo album — a collection of ballads appropriately titled Voice. His rich tone has been an anchor for so many SHINee songs, but I don’t think we’ve ever heard him perform like he does on Blue. I’m not usually a huge ballad-lover, but this song’s powerful simplicity proves to be quite compelling.

Focusing on his lower register, and projecting to near operatic levels, Onew forgoes many of the K-pop ballad tropes for something more resonant and timeless. Driven entirely by piano and strings, Blue‘s lack of percussion is striking. Like the title of his album suggests, it’s a song led completely by Onew’s vocal phrasing. In this way, it feels ripped from a musical. We don’t get the expected build of an OST-style ballad. Instead, each drawn-out chorus becomes its own mini climax, performed with gut-wrenching emotion and a patient pace that trusts its listeners.

The expressive layers of strings — especially the haunting, second verse instrumental break — give the song a cinematic appeal, heightening the mood but also providing the kind of empty space we rarely hear in K-pop. I would never have expected SM Entertainment to attempt an arrangement like this — especially on a title track. But, the gamble pays off. Blue is not a song for every moment. It’s too specific for that. But, sometimes it’s better to narrow your focus to a distinct tone and absolutely nail it.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8



3 thoughts on “Song Review: Onew (SHINee) – Blue

  1. Pingback: The Top 10 K-Pop Artists of 2018 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  2. Pingback: Top Three K-Pop Songs of December 2018 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  3. Pingback: Song Review: Onew (SHINee) – Dice | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.