Buried Treasure: Key (SHINee) – Heartless

Key - HeartlessA K-pop act’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.

Key improved an already-solid album with his Killer repackage. New song Easy doesn’t do much for me, but the title track is a total triumph (even if I may have slightly overrated it in my initial review). Rounding out this release is Heartless, which was teased by SMent as an “intense rock dance song.” As I mentioned on twitter, this song description and I are basically soulmates. I adore big dance music with a rock base. In the end, Heartless doesn’t quite scratch that itch. But, it’s another standout from the every-consistent Key.

The rock elements here feel a bit like window dressing and are most evident during the pulsing verses. I would have amped this energy even further, but I love the aggressive percussion that underlines most of the track. Heartless also includes a touch of whimsy in both its melody and instrumental flourishes, offering an interesting sense of contrast. I’m not sure it always works, but these touches prevent the song from feeling too one-note.

As always, Key’s charismatic performance is pushed front and center. He has a way of imbuing every song he records with a unique sense of himself. Heartless could have been delivered by any number of idol acts, but it wouldn’t have quite the same edge. That’s the magic of a truly compelling performer.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9

Grade: B


7 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: Key (SHINee) – Heartless

  1. OH! I like this even more than the title track. I love a rock-infused song and this one also has a straightforward, stomping beat – great! The prechorus has a few interesting shifts that keep the song interesting despite how straightforward it seems at first.
    Key throws his effortless charisma over top of this wonderful instrumental, he does great again here, nothing much to be said about that.

    Sidenote: the intro strongly reminds me of Pink’ s So What.


  2. I tend to really enjoy songs that are written in 12/8 (or 6/8), so it’s not a shock to me that I’m a sucker for this song. I also enjoy its quirkiness. This one’s right up there with the title track for me.


  3. This song is so good. This album was one of my favorites last year and I love all 3 new tracks on the reissue. I wish this one had choreography. I think it would be really great


  4. I love this one too. There is something attention-grabbing about it even without adding Key’s vocals to it, but then his vocals fit perfectly. He has a piercing singing voice that demands attention, and I feel like the bigger and/or quirkiest the song goes, the more he unleashes that demanding quality in it. I guess there is some technical explanation for this impression, but I am absolutely ignorant (always willing to be educated though!).


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