Song Review: Changmin (Max of TVXQ) – Maniac

Changmin - ManiacTVXQ’s Max Changmin has been taking teasers to a whole new level for his upcoming album. First, he gave us a taste of b-side Fever through a live performance. Now, we get a proper music video for Maniac. Title track Devil has a lot to live up to because this new track is fantastic.

Maniac uses rock sounds and structure to go full-on musical theater. It’s the most refreshing change of pace I’ve heard from K-pop in some time – particularly from an agency as huge as SM. One of my favorite Changmin solo tracks has always been Japanese b-side Rock With U. His powerful vocals excel when paired with R&B material, but rock music feels like an equally strong match. For Maniac, Changmin drops his guard and leans into theatrical bombast. Maybe he’s been listening to Queen lately?

The song is a rollicking good time, bounding along an exciting beat sprinkled with a generous flourish of piano. Backing vocals create a choir-like fervor as Maniac builds to an incredible, multi-part chorus. The first half sees Changmin’s vocals climbing upward in a musical game of chicken. From here, the instrumental falls away and we’re left with vocal and piano, delivering a playful resolution. But even in its more straightforward moments, Maniac is stuffed with this unpredictable energy. It feels alive and malleable, not some plug-and-play production created by a laptop. It’s a spirit I’ve missed during K-pop’s past few years. Leave it to industry royalty like Changmin to bring it roaring back.

(The music video is also excellent.)

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9


23 thoughts on “Song Review: Changmin (Max of TVXQ) – Maniac

  1. And this is why I’m glad I follow your reviews… I totally missed this! 😂 And wow! It was quit an unexpected banger! Just watched it once and I already wanna re-watch it! It’s fun and super engaging! Have a feeling this will grow on me a lot! I’m thinking of turning on the lyrics next time too lol. And was that a Alfred Itchcock in the end?! 😂 SM really had fun with the MV alright!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Nick, Slick man, John Wick, Jick Names. That score is a bit too…”not deserving” don’t you think?

    This is clearly the most “10” worthy thing to come out ever since ONF’s Beautiful Beautiful.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I just KNEW Changmin was gonna come through with the theatrical goodness after the hints of it we got on his Chocolate EP. This and Fever have been like……way more than I was expecting though. My brain kind of short circuited from how happy this made me. God I adore his vocals so much.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. (I listened to Fever, which is Interesting with a capital I. It sounds like they mashed up TVXQ’s “Something” with the stomp+crash chorus of Imagine Dragons “Believer”.)

    This one here sounds like more of a straight ahead pop song, but hides little goodies throughout. The main treat is that the chorus has five lines in the main theme crescendo before breaking. That one more line of build. If you didn’t count it, you felt it viscerally. It really plays with us.

    And going into that chorus, there is also an old-fashioned build of vocal intensity and pitch which is actually the end of a verse not a separate section called the “pre-chorus”. (and those goddamn increasing snare hits are missing too, thank heavens) Yep, you know you are in the chorus the old-fashioned way, by making it a real sung chorus with a real building lead-in.

    I haven’t counted the rest of it out yet, but I feels like the rest of the song construction also adds and deletes an expected line here and there, so its never quite fully 4/4-times-4 or 8 lines like songs today tend to follow.

    So, yeah, good song!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. YOOOO Changmin is INSANE for this!!

    I have to admit I had never really listened to him much (newer kpop fan, so I wasnt around for TVXQ’s heyday, although I’ve become a huge U Know fan since his album last year) but I watched the SMTown concert the other week and it was pretty much love at first sight when I saw his Fever performance. And neither of these songs is actually the title track??? This album is going to be off the walls.

    2022 has peaked too early lmao. Not sure how anything in the remaining 11.5 months of this year can top this for me haha. My ONLY critique is that I wish it was longer!!!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Changmin is also a fantastic dancer His tall little string bean body just snaps and glides through each move.

      Its a long running joke that Changmin has always wanted to be in SuJu, lots of memes and montages. A few years ago, he did his military service with Donghae and Siwon in the Seoul police promotional unit. We ELF and Cassiopeia got to see fancams of the three of them do TVXQ – SuJu mashups every week. It was =great=!!!!

      Here, here are some gifts for you! These crack me up, as Changmin phones it in and yet he is better than everyone else on the stage.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Very Queen-esque! Not sure if Changmin has always been listening to Queen but Yoo Young Jin once made him practice Adam Lambert’s If I Had You, lols. Since Changmin’s voice is as theatrical as Lambert’s, campy/glam rock songs suit his voice very much.

    Wonder who directed this music video – it’s very Sophie Muller-esque.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Very Rocky Horror. It isn’t to my taste but I can’t fault his vocal delivery. I guess I just don’t much like musical theater.


  8. I hear Queen with a dash of Paul Williams from Phantom of the Paradise, and a little Official Hige Dandism. I love all these things, but can only take them in 1-2 song chunks so this is perfect. Very full of swag and eastern godliness.


  9. Strong “WTF … but I really like it” energy on this one. I’m grumpy that it’s not on Apple Music yet so I’m listening to his last Japanese EP. I don’t love what they’re doing with his vocals but the big instrumentals are great. I guess I’ll just have to be patient for the rest of the Korean album.

    Liked by 1 person

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