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.