Song Review: Key (SHINee) – Gasoline

Key - GasolineAfter nearly a year’s hiatus, Key has returned with a new album. He pre-released the fantastic Another Life next week, which harnessed the synth-powered style that made Bad Love such a triumph. Title track Gasoline opts for a different sound, raiding the SM vaults to craft the kind of maximalist stomper artists like TVXQ used to deliver on the regular.

If any idol is primed to go over-the-top with their music, it’s Key. He can pull off songs like Gasoline in a way few others can. The track is primarily a sing-talk affair, with verses that hinge on the sort of clipped, otherworldly delivery that’s long become an SM staple. I can see how some might balk at this choice, but the phrasing brings a ton of second-gen nostalgia that makes Gasoline an instant standout. Better yet, the performance is bolstered by walls of ceremonial brass that lend the song a larger-than-life appeal. Where Gasoline may lack in melody, it makes up for in bombast.

Even though they don’t appear often, the track’s chant-heavy refrains could potentially grow monotonous. But, Gasoline has a cool trick up its sleeve. Right at the climax of the song, when we’re prepared for a repetition of the chorus, a new melody emerges. It’s almost like a second chorus, and pulls Gasoline apart in a way that enhances the listening experience. Key’s vocal tone changes, offering a counterpoint to the harder-edged refrains surrounding this segment. I wish the songwriters expanded on this even further, pushing themselves to play with structure. As is stands, this is still a weird little song – impish yet commanding. I don’t think it measures up to the best of Key’s solo work, but he’s certainly throwing the gauntlet with an ear-catching (and eye-catching!) return.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75


39 thoughts on “Song Review: Key (SHINee) – Gasoline

  1. This song is absolute food for me. It’s not a song so much as it’s a entrance processional and if he doesn’t come onto the MAMA stage this year being borne by 4 hunky wraiths in a sedan chair, K-pop will bear that shame until the sun goes out.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. As usual, Key sold the hell out of this song. Though this concept is the one I especially hate, he managed to save the track with his charisma and performance. On the other hand, the chanted refrain feels kinda obnoxious to me, and, as a result, this one doesn’t even stand close to Another Life for me personally. To conclude, I think that a song like Gasoline let Key’s legend status down a little bit.

    My rating would be:

    Hooks: 7
    Production: 9
    Longevity: 8
    Bias: 8
    Total: 8/10

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is very much not my favourite type of song but I am so sold on it. His performance is amazing and he delivers. The bombastic vibe and the straightforward lyrics fit him nicely. At this point I think he can sell me on anything. Taemin was my SHINee bias when I was a teen, but now at 32 I am here for Kibum.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I gave a listen to this album – or tried to – and was really disappointed. I loved the Bad Love ep last year, and Another Life was quite good too, so I had high hopes. Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Would it kill them to get a real trumpet fanfare? How awesome would that be?!
    Quibble #2: the whole song is at the same volume, eq’d to death, instead of having the softer parts being actually softer and the fanfare chorus sections being louder.
    Other than that, yeah, its pretty good. A senior seasoned kpop performer performing the shit out of a song.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. The visuals were gorgeous. And the song was bombastic and that unexpected bridge (?) was great. Also, sounds like a SuperM song stacked away because it wasn’t suited that great for a group, resembling One(Monster+Infinity) most closely.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this so much. Not as much as Bad Love, DEFINITELY another as much as Yellow Tape, but still really like it. Gonna add it with Jessi’s Zoom, What Type of X, Infinite’s Bad, ATEEZ’s Wonderland to the “Naked me feel like a badass” playlist.


  8. While Bad Love with its retro vibe is more my thing, Gasoline was damn awesome and Key sold the hell out of it! The instrumental is so gorgeous (and so is Key lmao but let’s focus “only” on the song) and I really liked how he fit in ‘Gasoline’ in the chorus!

    There is a very SM vibe in the song! I almost got Black Mamba’s prechorus vibes (At 0:57 I think lol), but then the song just shifted into this epic badass vibe and his style just made it so better! Epic badass is the only way to describe this for me!

    Side note : The MV is super fantastic!! The effects with the shadows and stuff and the styling and everything! And like, I know SM is trying to bring every single group into their Kwangyaverse thing and I hope they consider making all their senior artists into the villains 💀 Because after Changmin with Devil and now Key with Gasoline I’m convinced these men are the only people I can accept as boss level villains in the SMCU 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Here’s the thing though. Key has made sure to let everyone know that this is NOT Kwangya. He’s been saying it since Bad Love. He said it’s his own universe where he’s half human-half god. It’s a different different planet, there’s aliens involved, it’s all far removed from Kwangya-verse. He mentioned it in last night’s live too. He absolutely wants no part in this lol

      Liked by 2 people

      • I hope that’s true because it comes as a relief to me 💀 I don’t trust SM because oh boy hearing Changmin scream Kwangyaaa in Devil made my eyes pop out lmao.

        I would absolutely love Key to stick to his own concept and story than get pulled into the other stuff! Leave that for the youth 😭

        Liked by 2 people

        • okay but kwangya is an actual thing in mythology, and it fits seamlessly into Devil. Like, as a lyric, that’s where you’d invoke kwangya EVEN IF sm wasn’t trying to do the sm-cinematic-universe. out of all the shoehorning kwangya where it doesn’t belong options, you choose the one that isn’t even shoehorning.


  9. I don’t dislike it! And that was a strong possibility considering this type of sound is not what I’m typically biased towards. On a first listen, too much talk/sing for my personal taste (though Key is DANG good at selling that to me), and someone please get this man an actual brass section because he deserves one, and so does this song for that matter, as big as it is – the synth horns cheapen the feel a bit to me. One great thing about the song is the way he performs it. I love Key’s voice, and he is a stellar vocal and visual performer. The shift in the song at the bridge made me cock my head to the side in interest, and I also really enjoyed the change in the melody on the second half of the very last refrain. I would have taken that every chorus, but adding it on the last one adds interest.

    I actually think it’ll grow on me. I already was a bit more into it on the second play. That being said, it currently sits as my least favorite track on the album (subject to change – my order tends to shift around quite a bit before it settles), which says good things about the album because I don’t dislike the song! Solid album! Doesn’t top Face or Bad Love for me, but I like it overall!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I’m a huge Key fan, like really huge, but first listen/MV watch this was actually awful. Too much happening, terrible snare, and even worse midi horns. Why for gods sake are there midi horns?! It sounds like something I composed for my year 10 music class in the early 2000s.
    Second listen without the terrible MV it’s not as bad. Key can carry it. But still, Another Life is the track I would have chosen as the title.
    As for the MV, why did they put Key back is the god damn SM box. The teasers and photoshoot were so cool, with the retro horror vibe and three characters. I need that in an MV format!!!!!


  11. I’ll always come out of hiding for a Key release. Hardly anything makes me more excited than that. I think Bad Love was a once in a lifetime, genie in a bottle experience, but this is still fantastic to me. Am I biased as hell? Yeah. Has he earned that from me? YES. Full album review, please!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I loved it on the first listen. And that is a rare occurrence for me in kpop these days. Very cinematic, but also super catchy somehow. Like the music keeps playing in your head even after you’re done with the song. The MV was gorgeous, as was Key.
    The album is pretty solid too, I loved most of the tracks on the first listen. I’m waiting to see what Nick’s buried treasure is.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This definitely made me think of “Industry Baby” by Lil Nas X in a good way. The switch up at 2:15 excited me and I agree that it would’ve been really cool if the writers had extended that moment.


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