Legendary Song

Legendary Song: SHINee – Sherlock (Clue + Note)

In every concert, there are those few songs that the audience waits for with bated breath. They’re showstoppers — amazing on their own but enhanced exponentially when paired with a live performance. Most of my all-time favorite K-pop tracks have this kind of larger-than-life intensity, as if the song itself isn’t enough to contain all of its energy. Sherlock (셜록) is one of those showstopping favorites.

The song arrived via a unique approach. Its accompanying mini album contained two remixed (or dissected) versions of the track, titled Clue and Note. Each mix drew upon several of Sherlock’s defining elements — the rubbery bassline for the former and the exuberant brass for the latter — and crafted individual songs that operated as a sub-unit of the whole. Neither works as flawlessly as Sherlock (Clue + Note), but it was certainly an interesting experiment. It also backs up my claim that this song is almost too immense to fit within its four-minute running time.

As a whole, Sherlock represents a tour de force of SHINee’s prowess, drawing upon their mammoth vocals, their tight, unflagging choreography and their megawatt star power — all in equal measure. It lays its intentions bare from the first moment, bounding out of the gate with a brass-filled splash after a flourish of horror show strings. The instrumental hits hard, punching with staccato stabs of chopped synth and unyielding percussion. Yet, the track manages to be light on its feet, helped along by SHINee’s lithe, effortlessly rhythmic vocal performance.

As satisfying as this all is, it’s only prelude to Sherlock’s shout-from-the-rafters chorus. This is the MOMENT — the meteoric refrain you wait an entire concert for. I’m not ashamed to admit that music is one of those things that can reduce me to a ball of tears. Sherlock’s chorus overwhelms in the best way, eliciting a frenzy of emotion through its sheer audacity. It’s utterly transcendent, and I don’t say that lightly.

At this point, so many songs would retreat, either repeating the structure of verse one or pulling too far back for a momentum-killing diversion. But, Sherlock knows the strength of its centerpiece. It delivers one of the shortest second verses in K-pop — more a breather than a full-fledged segment. Then, only eighteen seconds later, we’re hit with the chorus again. If the first wave didn’t get you, the second wave is sure to finish the job.

This truncated verse leaves room for an extended bridge, which makes stellar use of shifting dynamics to craft a long-simmering build that spotlights the song’s exciting choreography. Key and Minho’s rap here has a mischievous appeal, playing with tempo and phrasing to add uncertainty to Sherlock’s lockstep groove.

When the final chorus kicks in, it’s accompanied by a triumphant send-off — the kind of victory lap finale you’d expect at the end of a marathon show, as the confetti drops and the performers are covered in sweat and sacrifice. Few pop songs deserve this kind of over-the-top climax, but Sherlock earns it with ease.

And that’s what makes Sherlock (Clue + Note) a Legendary Song.

 Hooks 10
 Production 10
 Longevity 10
 Bias 10



8 thoughts on “Legendary Song: SHINee – Sherlock (Clue + Note)

  1. Well, let’s start with your four “10”s and see where we can go from there..

    ..another “10” for the Venus de Milo statue (one of my favorites along with other greats such as the Kritios Boy, Michelangelo’s Pietà, etc.).
    ..another “10” for Cho Soo-hyun (video’s director) who also directed PSY’s “Gangnam Style” and SNSD’s “Oh!”.
    ..another “10” for Tony Testa (choreographer) who also created routines for Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Nikki Minaj, etc.. oh, and some group named TVXQ.
    ..another “10” for the Jessica cameo.
    ..another “10” for the Korean version of Spuds MacKenzie.
    ..another “10” for Taemin’s locks.

    So.. ..100% coolnessnessness.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And this, dear children, is how to do a Monster Chorus.
    An actual chorus.

    I flove the victory lap “Give it up for SHIN ayyyyyy!”


  3. Yes, yes, and YES. This might be (and I don’t say this lightly) my favourite kpop song of all time. I get chills listening to it. From the second you hear that pulsing bass intro they don’t let up the energy. There’s not a dull moment in the song; the rhythm is driving, the horns are jubilant, the chorus is so triumphant, it’s just the perfect testament to Shinee’s power as performers.

    And that’s before I’ve mentioned the live version from Shinee World IV. Hands down my favourite kpop live performance EVER. I’ve genuinely never seen people perform with such passion than that video. They’re dancing like their lives depend on it, Jonghyun’s climactic high note is practically orgasmic. I get emotional every time I watch it, because I’m reminded what true artistry looks like. It’s a 10 from me too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nick, these Legendary Song reviews have both been phenomenal. Now I seriously want you to do every song on the poll, but I can understand why it won’t be an easy undertaking! (Still crossing my fingers for Janus, though…)

    This is a 10 from me too. Oh, and an extra 10 for “Soy un Dorito!” of course!


    • Thank you! They’re a lot of fun to write, but honestly take tons of time as well.
      I’m sure I’ll work through all of the poll choices eventually, but there’s so much other content coming up that it won’t be right away 🙂


  5. Wow I never noticed how short verse two was until you pointed it out! Thanks! Those five stabs with the horns (when they do the step out) always get me, I have to fist pump in some way.


  6. The fact that this song is getting celebrated currently by all groups alike shows the power of this immortal classic. SHINEE!

    Today, Is SHINee’s celebration Sherlock day, and literally every body is taking it seriously, I couldn’t be happier!


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