Song Review: Key (SHINee) – Killer

Key - KillerIt’s been a long ninety days since a K-pop song – title track or otherwise – scored a “9” or higher on this blog. That’s a new Bias List record, if you’re wondering! I’ve often joked that 2023 hasn’t actually started yet, but now we can put that critique to rest. Leave it to SHINee’s Key to end this drought in the way only he can. Once again, he’s stuck to his unique artistic vision and delivered a sleek synth banger in the form of repackage title track Killer.

On its surface, Killer lacks the bells and whistles often tethered to K-pop singles, but in this age of constant breakdowns and tempo changes it’s incredibly refreshing to hear a song know exactly what it wants to be and never take its foot off the gas. Killer is the latest K-pop title to borrow from the synthwave genre and feels like a musical brother to Taemin’s 2020 hit Criminal. That should tell you all you need to know about my thoughts on the song. This style is catnip to my ears, and Key is uniquely positioned to leverage it.

Killer hedges its bets on a driving electronic beat, aided by footfalls of percussion and atmospheric synths. From its opening verse, the melodies are clear and memorable and delivered with panache. The chorus is simple but punchy and – importantly – nudges the energy to create a standout centerpiece. None of this is novel pop song writing, but these classic approaches are classic for a reason. Killer satisfies completely, and at nearly four minutes it leaves room for a dynamite bridge and explosive climax.

Yes, it seems 2023 K-Pop has finally taken flight. We owe you one, Key!

Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 10
 RATING 9.25

Grade: A


35 thoughts on “Song Review: Key (SHINee) – Killer

  1. I wholly agree with the review. This song is definitely the peak of 2023 so far, and I don’t see it changing any time soon. Key never misses.

    Right now though, I’m really wishing for an Enhypen comeback. The guys have been working their butts off from their world tour among their other activities (Belift should be giving them more breaks), but I am completely ready to have more Enhypen music on heavy rotation. Future-Perfect really was that song, and I am very excited to see what direction their music is heading next.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m very excited to see Enhypen too! They have been very experimental on their title tracks that I couldn’t guess what will come in the next comeback. What song genre do you think Enhypen will release? I’m hoping for a little bright and fresh like Tamed-Dashed to balance the darker songs they had before. But dark/mysterious is kinda like their color so I’m fine with both concept 😂


  2. not to be vulgar but key deserves to have his @ss ate for his amazing solo works. the album art, styling, overall concept, and especially the songs themselves easily place him as the best of all SM Ent soloists. even though im biased towards taeyeon (shes mother) objectively speaking key has a very consistent and coherent discography, taeyeon’s can feel fragmented at times

    Liked by 10 people

  3. Yaassss, Key!!! His vision for the music that he enjoys putting out is probably the most consistently in line with my personal musical biases of any kpop artist – he can keep releasing songs like this, and I’ll be there for it every single time. Great verses, even better pre-chorus, super satisfying chorus, and a killer bridge all wrapped in synth and Key’s fantastic vocals? I love it. If that weren’t good enough on its own, every single one of the songs he released with this repackage ended up in my playlists on a first listen. I dare the rest of February to try and top this, haha.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Despite the fact that this 80’s synthwave concept has already started to wear thin on me, Key sold the hell outta the song. I could feel how it was literally burning in my heart. Giving this a solid 9.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. This definitely was the highlight for the day! The instrumental hooked me from the beginning and I’m a sucker for this kinda vibe! I’m so happy Key is sticking to his own vision of music through thick and thin! ❤❤ The rest of the album seems to be rather nice too!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve never been a big fan of the synthwave revival, but Key’s powerful vocal delivery really transforms this song for me! It’s fun how Taemin-inspired this feels, but with a completely different vocal style (which I prefer, honestly).

    The ‘killer’ / ‘thriller’ rhyme felt a bit cheesy, but it doesn’t ruin the song.
    Overall: the quality I have come to expect from Key 🙂


  7. Its good! Early highlight for this year for sure and very much in the vein of Another Life if slightly worse for me. Probably would have it high 8s at best.


  8. I think the A grade is appropriate. I’m probably not as stingy and would give A’s to a few more songs from Dec. & early Jan. (re: NewJeans’ Ditto & Nine/OnlyOneOf’s beyOnd), but still it’s been a long wait since those two excellent releases. Unlike others, I wasn’t really fond of Key’s album last year, so this new tune is a return to the sound I love from him, epitomized by Bad Love.


  9. I can’t get into it. It’s too on the nose for several things that have come before it and doesn’t do much to make it different. Artists don’t have to reinvent the wheel but I need a little something that makes it uniquely them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Omg i thought i was the only one who wasn’t in love with this song. I truly love Key and enjoy almost everything he puts out with Bad Love being my favorite title track of his. Killer is good and I love the 80s inspiration but idk, it felt kinda boring to me. The song is almost too similar to Blinding Lights. I like the synths but it needs a bit more electro dance pop for me to really love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I completely forgot this was coming out. This is so great. I love it so much. Not a surprise though. All anyone from SHINee has to do is exist and do a thing and I will love it. Key is the best. He doesn’t make bad music ever.


  11. Love it. Key is really epic these days. the relationship breakup lyrics in Killer sounds a metaphor around his own stardom, and how he hypes himself up as an idol for songs and stages but feels vulnerable inside and fatigued from going between two personas. motorcycle Key vs chandelier Key in the music video.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love it! It sounds like a movie soundtrack in the best way. I will never get tired of 80’s synthwave, I’ve loved it since the 80’s 😆 and it suits Key so well.
    Key has won himself the title of my favorite kpop soloist. This album and Bad Love are both on heavy repeat. He has finally overtaken Taeyeon and Lee Changsub on my most played list.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think Killer has a the beat very similar to Blinding Lights of The Weekend.
    Seriously, this song is like a brother of Blinding Lights.
    If you carefully listen to the first few seconds beginning of the song and compare these two songs together.
    I like Killer a lot though, especially the climax, really really charming.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Now THIS is more like it. Key sounds stunning and the song feels like a natural continuation to “Bad Love”. It deserves to have a very good rating.

    I feel that “Bad Love”, “Another Life”, and “Killer” can be grouped together to form an amazing retro trilogy for Key.

    Also “Heartless” sounds nice! It’s nice to hear a new side of Key here. I wish they add a high note after the bridge to make this song better though.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Not gonna lie, either I prefer crazier pop or I played way too many boy group songs because as much as this song is good, this is honestly way too safe for me. I loved Gasoline because it was very Key while going bigger and bolder. I was kinda waiting for a twist or a big shift but it was very straightforward. I guess it’s different from the usual SM releases that way. Key pulls off the song well and it’s no surprise it’s a bop, but I don’t think this’ll be repeated a lot unless the song grows on me.


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