Song Review: Onew (SHINee) – Dice

Onew DiceFor the past two years, SHINee’s music has been all over my year-end top ten lists. Their full-group songs have been excellent, but members Taemin and Key also released top tier material. Leader Onew pitched himself as more of a balladeer with 2018’s Voice, which matches his skill as a vocalist. But, I’m not usually one for ballads. So when comeback Dice revealed itself to be more upbeat and synth-heavy, my anticipation grew. ‘SHINee + synth’ rarely goes wrong.

True to form, Dice is very nice. It fits right within K-pop’s retro, city pop obsession, and Onew’s smooth vocals are a perfect match for this style. The track bops along an amiable synth beat, never once switching gears. It’s upbeat, but quite restrained. Rather than pull the rug from under its listeners, the chorus simply beefs up the existing instrumental to give it more punch. This feels like an old-fashioned technique and gives the song a stately presence. Similarly, the melodies wash over the track with a breezy energy. Dice coasts along this good vibe, light and groovy and assured.

While Dice is a strong example of this style, it also succumbs to critiques I’ve had with K-pop’s retro revival. Most of these songs have lacked oomph, heading down an “easy listening” route rather than embrace the more bombastic, gutsy side of the 80’s. City pop can definitely favor a leisurely vibe, and that seems to be the aspect K-pop has latched onto. It’s pleasant – and Dice is more than “pleasant” – but it tends to blunt ambition when it comes to songwriting and production. Even so, this is a total standout of the genre and will likely have great staying power throughout the spring.

Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75


10 thoughts on “Song Review: Onew (SHINee) – Dice

  1. It’s a very nice song. Good plus. Its a song released because it is time to release a song, and so with better than average songcraft, better than average performance, better than average production values, it comes out sounding better than average.

    My particular problem to rant about is how safe it is. Do I blame Onew for playing it safe? Not at all. It’s entertaining. It will get played all over streaming for those who need easy going stuff when they need it. Who am I to judge – I have my own lists of softer hitting songs too. However, on my feed this morning was also Rammstein “Zick Zack”, and heilige scheisse, that song has a point of view. And it was such a contrast between the two. I miss that kind of song.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. If it was just a little less restrained – if it had real brass or strings, or the arrangement was harder, or was a little more uptempo. And if they just gave Onew a couple of killing parts to showcase his big, unique voice,

    I feel like he’s been put into a tasteful little box. It sounds like those pop numbers they’d give to 60s stars (or 70s underground icons traying to make it big) in the 80s. Good enough, flashes of greatness, but unsatisfying. It’ll probably do well sales-wise, though.

    I mean, from anyone else it would be really good, but those pesky SHINee members give you expectations.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I really like it as well as the album (Sunshine and Love Phobia are so good). The last chorus is by far my fav and even tho it could’ve used some more oomph like you said it’s still way better than what we heard from k-pop guys recently tbh. No shouting, thank you! 😁

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Initially, I felt that the song lacked “oomph” as well when listening to it as a title track but in the context of the mini album I don’t mind. The mini album has a nice groove, mellow through line, and is easy to have on repeat since it all flows together nicely.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a nice song.

    After the second chorus there’s this very nice guitar, layered with synth bell, moment that also fills out the final chorus as well and carries the song out.
    I wish the song began this melodically rich and instrumentally strong, and went from there. I really feel like it’s just getting started as the song is ending.

    But we get what we get and what we get is very good nonetheless.
    This is a great comeback and Onew is holding his own well!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. A very nice song, it makes me feel so happy. Everything goes down easy and I can enjoy the textures of onew’s voice and the instrumental. This spring I know I’m gonna listen to it a lot but summer is the season for this song.

    Liked by 3 people

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