[Album Review] BAD LOVE (1st Mini Album) – Key (SHINee)

Key is nominated for Best Male Choreography (Solo), while BAD LOVE is nominated for Best Electronic Song and Best Album in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. SHINee and fellow member Taemin are also nominated for other categories, as well. Support Key, Taemin and SHINee in their respective categories by clicking here and voting for your favourite acts of this year.

On September 27 of this year, Key made his solo comeback with the amazing BAD LOVE. On the same day, he also dropped his first mini-album of the same name. BAD LOVE not only features the title track BAD LOVE, but also the pre-release single titled Hate That which also featured Taeyeon from SNSD. Originally, I had planned to review the pre-release single separately before the album review. But after putting it off for so many weeks, I have decided to just push forward with the album review without the separate review for Hate That. Otherwise, this album review will not see the light of day. Regarding the album (spoiler alert), I highly recommend to anyone who just want to discover something new. It is so good that BAD LOVE has managed to score a Best Album nomination in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards and is also my pick for Best Album of the year! Though not all songs scored a 10/10, there is not a bad song on this album whatsoever, so I am sure you will find something that you like. But that’s the whole overview of the album, let’s dive into each of the songs.

BAD LOVE Album Cover

1. BAD LOVE (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for BAD LOVE. (9.5/10)

2. Yellow Tape – Continuing on from BAD LOVE with the electronic instrumentation is Yellow Tape. I really like how hard-hitting Yellow Tape was from start to end. It is the type of consistency that I quite like, with a refreshing tone also coming through at the same time. The bolstered beat and electronic textures in Yellow Tape makes this a knockout song. I also enjoyed the hype and satisfying energy that Key himself brings through his vocals. They were powerful and well-defined over the instrumentation. The breathy ‘breathe in, breathe out’ whispers were catchy and iconic, increasing the memorability of the song. A solid follow-up track to BAD LOVE. (9/10)

3. Hate That… (ft. Taeyeon (SNSD)) – As mentioned previously, Hate That… is the pre-release single of the album, and was released a month in advanced to the rest of BAD LOVE. It is a R&B track that brings out the best of both Key and Taeyeon. It is pretty much an outlier in the album, but it also gives us a bit of reprieve from all of the electronic influences. The pair really dug deep for this song, with each of them bringing a lot of emotion. To me, I find the instrumentation to be quite stilling for the most part, aside from the somewhat pulsing beat that adds depth to the song. This really compliments the emotional and R&B roots of the song. Their harmonies took the song to a new level, while the melodies for the main hook in the choruses were definitely memorable ring to it that just stayed in my head even after the song had wrapped up. Apologies for not reviewing this song earlier. (9/10)

4. Helium (헬륨)Helium brings funky vibes to the album and also uses this opportunity to incorporate an all-English track. While the funky instrumentation was great, I wished it was bolder and had more gratifying bass, all of which would have taken the song to the next level. But that being said, my suggestions don’t mean that Helium is a bad song. I really enjoyed Key’s falsetto vocals and his rap-speak delivery during some parts of the song really helped make this one a memorable track. Not exactly my favourite off the album, but definitely still ana amazing track. (8.5/10)

5. Saturday Night Saturday Night is blissful and atmospheric during the verses, before ultimately unveiling its true nature as another funky and groovy track when it came to the chorus. This one is a laid back and chill in terms of its energy, but effective and impactful at the same time. Key’s falsetto vocals return in this song to compliment the funky notes of the instrumentation.  I really enjoyed this song and was definitely grooving along to it when I heard it the first time. (10/10)

6. Eighteen (End of My World) – The final song on the mini-album is Eighteen and is a nice ribbon to tie the entire album together, in my opinion. To me, Eighteen felt like a concentration of everything that came before it and definitely showcases Key’s abilities. It started off as an emotional sounding track, similar to a ballad. The twist here would be the instrumentation, as it still emerges with that electronic influence that is throughout most of the album. When the chorus kicks in, the song brings forth a slow rock vibe, which in conjunction with the electronic created a very impactful and powerful instrumental. Key’s vocals were consistently powerful during the entirety of the song, emotionally charged and wholesome all at the same time. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.3/10

BAD LOVE Teaser Image

[Review] BAD LOVE – Key (SHINee)

Also making his comeback yesterday was Key (from SHINee), who returns with his first comeback as a solo artist. In 2018, Key made his solo debut with One of Those Nights (ft. Crush) and the studio length album, Face. In 2019, Key did make a comeback, but it was marketed as his first repackaged album, which was retitled I Wanna Be and featured the title track of the same name (ft. Kim Soyeon from (G)I-DLE). Yesterday, Key returned with his first mini-album, BAD LOVE, which is lead by the title track of the same name and the pre-release single Hate That (ft. Taeyeon from SNSD – which I haven’t reviewed yet).

I may have already teased my thoughts on BAD LOVE yesterday with a subtle reference to Key’s new song in AB6IX’s CHERRY review. I mentioned that I was glad that there wasn’t two overwhelming songs yesterday, which means I was hinting towards BAD LOVE being the other overwhelming song. I am kind of glad I did give myself an extra day to recalibrate my senses, as I don’t find BAD LOVE as overwhelming anymore. Multiple listens has really warmed me up to this song. But is the chorus still a bit too thick for my liking? Yes, I felt there was a lot going on and to digest as the song’s synths really ramps up in the chorus and you can tell that Key was really pushing his vocals to be in the forefront of all the synths. But, I do see how memorable the chorus is, how Key really shows and impresses with his vocal chops when his vocals soar in the song and the constant delivery of those high notes, and why some people might consider it a ‘out of the park’ song. Unfortunately, those initial thoughts still seem to float around in my head when I listen to BAD LOVE, so I can’t really share the exact same perception. Elsewhere in the song, BAD LOVE really flourishes with its retro and electronic mix. While this sound isn’t original, I feel that BAD LOVE really (and literally) takes the sound profile to the next level. I am not keen with the synths at the very start of the song, but everything else in BAD LOVE was definitely rocking and shows the creativeness of the producer. The bridge was very interesting with the really deep and raspy ‘I’m not thinking of you‘. That was wow moment for me that stood out for me initially.

The only thing I am a bit wary of in this music video is that red outfit in the choreography scenes. I think that was the only negative aspect of the music video. Aside from that, the music video was equally as aggressive as the song (but obviously in a visual sense). From what I can tell, Key seems to be portraying a celebrity who is starring in his own BAD LOVE sci-fi story (that ultimately ends with his demise). It drives Key insane and he wants out of the story, as he doesn’t want to relive the events that he himself had already gone through. I really enjoyed his acting and Key definitely makes the video a worthwhile watch. While a lot of the sets seemed to bring forth that modernish vibe, I feel the stage platform with the disco balls above it was a nice tie in of the retro influences to the video.

Also like the song and music video, the choreography for this comeback also took an aggressive approach that felt very fitting for the song. From the scenes in the music video, you can feel a lot of artistic flair within the choreography. I would also like to see Key replicate that ending (with the dancers lying down on stage) on stage, as that was a very memorable image to finish on.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance –
Overall Rating – 9.5/10

[Review] I Wanna Be – Key (SHINee) ft. Soyeon ((G)I-DLE)

As of yesterday, Key (from SHINee) enlisted into the military to begin his mandatory enlistment. But he didn’t part without releasing some new music. I Wanna Be, which features Kim Soyeon from the girl group (G)I-DLE, is Key’s newest release and serves as a parting present for fans. It is one of the three new songs on the repackaged album which shares the same name as the lead title track. The album was formerly known as Face and it featured One of These Nights (ft. Crush) and Forever Yours (ft. Soyou).

I Wanna Be is a very refreshing pop dance track. I say refreshing as I haven’t heard anything like this before. The instrumental carries some familiar EDM influences but together it sounds like something quite new. There is this slight vibrating synth that I find extremely appealing. I also enjoyed the pulsing beating during the verses, which later became more frequent and bolder during the chorus. Talking about the chorus, I wasn’t sure exactly when it begins. I assume it was when the song became upbeat but the preceding section felt like the start due to the vocals/lyrics. So I am going to label the preceding part as the pre-chorus. I found the pre-chorus interesting as it seemed to feature a female voice behind Key’s. Not exactly sure if it Kim Soyeon’s but I thought the harmonies were really nice. Key’s voice is amazing in this track. I think we can all agree that he has vastly improved since his earlier days. Kim Soyeon’s part was very flowy and I like that a lot. Usually, we see her with intensity, and while I do prefer that, it is nice to see her handle something more delicate.

I really like colour, so I enjoy seeing used in a way that is stylish and sleek. So I appreciate a very vibrant looking video. I Wanna Be‘s music video is essentially that. The use of red and green in their respective sets look amazing and gives off a bold impression. This causes both Key and Kim Soyeon to stand out through the video, which I thought was a great way to really allow them to pop and not become part of the sets. Other than that, I am keen to learn more about the content of the video. He holds the globe in his hands and there were a series of numbers that flash over the TV screen in the video. I don’t know what this all means but it left me intrigued.

The dancing in this video is pretty amazing. Particularly the dance break that follows the choruses. His footwork (or rather knees) look very cool. It is a little disappointing that we won’t see an actual live performance (or dance version) of this track any time soon.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Review] Cold – Key (SHINee) ft. Hanhae

It has been a while since I have reviewed an SM Station track, so it is time to get back to those very special singles and collaborations. This week, we have Key (from SHINee) gracing our screens and music apps with Cold. The song features Hanhae, a well-known South Korean rapper who actually enlisted into the military in the past week. Key previously made his solo debut at the end of last year with One Of Those Nights and you can read my review for his solo debut by clicking the link. But let’s continue on with the review for Cold.

Cold is an R&B track that feels reminiscent of the R&B sound that artists like Crush and Heize have released previously. The song doesn’t seem to be that memorable in my books. There are a number of reasons why I think that. Key presents us with a nice voice in the song but it isn’t as capturing as Heize or Crush’s husky or raspy tone when it comes to their own solo work. The instrumental feels very standard and doesn’t offer anything interesting. There is some soft electronic piano featured throughout the song which did make the song slightly appealing. But that wasn’t enough to really consolidate its overall appeal. It isn’t all bad news though as the song is still pleasantly sound and Hanhae’s rapping did attract some more attention towards the song. I wouldn’t mind listening to it every now and then. Just constant replaying will bore me out of it even more and I wouldn’t personally go out of my way to find the song.

The music video revolves around Key as an artist and that he has fallen in love with a certain camerawoman or director of the music video that he is shooting within the music video. I guess he becomes so invested in his interest that he forgets what is there for and continues to have the video filmed despite all the staff members cleaning up behind him. I thought that was an interesting way to show that his crush wasn’t interested. I liked how they shot everything used vintage cameras and the vintage filter that was applied to the scenes. I found that the music video was suitable for the song, overall but equally as dry as the song.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.4/10

[Review] One of Those Nights – Key (SHINee) ft. Crush

Key makes his official solo debut with One Of Those Nights, which features successful R&B artist, Crush. His title track is featured on the album titled as FACE and it also features the pre-release single, Forever Yours (featuring Soyou) which was released a few weeks back. Key is the third member of SHINee to make his solo debut, after Jonghyun (RIP) and Taemin. Onew has been confirmed to make his solo debut with an album next month before his military enlistment, leaving Minho as the only member to not branch out in a solo music career yet.

But today’s focus is on Key’s solo release, which I quite like. The instrumentation combines guitar and house beats, which is now a classic combination. And it makes the track quite addictive despite it not offering anything that we can consider new. I think the stand out element of the song has to be the vocals. Both Key and Crush’s vocals actually sound quite alike and both suit this style of music very well. If I wasn’t watching the music video, I wouldn’t be able to tell who is singing, which I think is a smart idea for when Key has to perform the song alone. That being said, Crush’s featuring in the chorus allows for Key to dance during the chorus and I too like that idea very much. Overall, I thought the song was quite clean cut and easy to listen to/get into.

The lyrics of the song talks about having ‘One of Those Nights’ where you cannot forget about your ex. And I thought the music video did a good job at portraying that. Key’s acting was really good, showing off facial expressions that make him look lost or just completely zone out due to these memories. I liked how Crush featured in the music video. But he was tucked into the scenes, such as Key dancing on the train carriage and Crush singing in the background. I thought that was really cool. I also thought the sets were very nice in the video.

This seems to be an artistic performance. While we cannot see much in the music video, the verses do show some graceful moves to fit the tempo and tone of the verses. When the chorus kicks in, everything becomes more energetic and upbeat. The bridge and final chorus look like it is going to be very powerful highlights in the performance, so I am looking forward to that.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] Forever Yours – Key (SHINee) ft. Soyou

With schedules for group comebacks becoming more spaced out for many established groups (particularly for male groups due to mandatory enlistment), many members have turned to solo careers. SHINee happens to be one of these groups. Dramas and solo music careers can be placed under the names of the other members but Key has only dabbled in variety shows. Now, he is officially making his solo debut this month and as a special pre-release, Key has released a collaboration with his good friend Soyou titled as Forever Yours.

Following their group promotions with three title tracks and one special repackaged release single, Key’s pre-release is a tropical house EDM styled song. And given the current competition, his song fails to really break any boundaries and stand out. The instrumental is nice but it doesn’t offer anything new to really be amazed at. What does keep this song quite fresh, however, are the vocals of both Key and Soyou. I have to admit that his voice feels very plain in this song. However, with Soyou’s husky vocals and the parts where both of them sing together, their voices brings a nice dynamic to the picture. I liked how Key’s voice was at the forefront of their duet moments, while Souyou’s husky voice stands out from the back. Other than that, I don’t have much else to say about the song.

And like SHINee’s music video, Key takes a fast-paced ride into space in his car. It felt the same producer or director played a part in this video. I really liked the retro feel in this video. The fonts and styles choices of the words that you see in the video remind me of various movie posters and really cringy fonts back in the day. The visuals are quite abstract and I have no clue on how to interpret this odd concoction of visuals. I am a little disappointed that Soyou didn’t appear in the video, which would have been nice if she did.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[Review] Get The Treasure – SHINee

Source: http://www.allkpop.com/upload/2017/01/af_org/SHINee_1485622735_af_org.jpg

I want to delve back into JPOP releases and hopefully extend my review base to artists who are not KPOP originated groups. It’s a promise that I have been making each year. While I don’t really see myself keeping that promise due to my commitments, I do want to keep doing a few JPOP reviews each year. And since SHINee just made their Japan comeback two weeks ago, why not? This is their 5th full album, titled as 5. SHINee has also released songs in 2016 that form part of the album.

Get The Treasure is something you expected from SHINee. Their Korean tracks have been more experimental in the last few years and the few Japanese tracks I have heard seemed to more consistent, with Get The Treasure fitting SHINee’s portfolio quite nicely. The song starts off abruptly. Not a big fan of that. It just felt too sudden and odd, compared to the rest of the song. Another part that I am shaking my head to (as in saying ‘no’) is the rapping sequence for the bridge. It felt disconnected and doesn’t flow well with the rest of the song. But everything else is pretty good. I love the grand and classy feel that the song has going on. It suits the casino concept that the video featured. The instrumental was spectacular. When they launch you into the chorus, they do not hold back with anything. Horns blaring and their vocals, being the forefront, was particularly strong and powerful. The instrumental here gave it a really nice funky and almost jazz-like flare. The verses did feel a little underwhelming, but it didn’t affect the overall listening experience. The chorus was the main show and they did manage to wow me during the main show.

One thing did jump out at me when watching the video. Their lip-syncing sucks. Not exactly sure if it is the language, but some of them barely moved their lips. But besides that standout issue, everything else in the video was really cool. First of all, the guys look really cool in their suits and black outfits. The mannequin challenge or the ‘pausing of everyone else’ while SHINee roamed around looked amazing. The editing done here has to be one of the most complicated processes ever. And also one of the best. I really enjoyed the choreography scenes. The chandelier dropping and then pausing midway just so the guys could dance with the glass pieces flying about really looked cool. Obviously, they did hold back in the video making process as well. Not even shooting guns could stop these guys!

The dance looked cool and fitting for the song. But it wasn’t as memorable as any of their past dances.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 9/10 
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

Married To The Music – SHINee

SHINee has returned to the stage after promoting View back in May. This time, they are joining the retro train with a throwback to music in the 80s, with Married To The Music.

This is a pretty nice song. It is definitely very different due that 80s feel it is going for. I love those small sections just before the start of the chorus. They add a more 80s feel to the song, even more than what the song is already showing. Not a big fan of the verses in this song. Not that they are bad, but they are pretty bland compared to the rest of the song. I really enjoyed Onew’s voice in this song. His vocal style and sound really fits in well with this song. The group’s harmonising in this song is pretty amazing as well. While the song is pretty unique, I don’t think this has the potential to turn into an iconic song. And honestly, I enjoyed listening to it the first few times, but then it was just forgotten for me. It really did not have much for me to go back to and I don’t find it catchy. But nevertheless, it is a pretty “popping” song that takes us back to probably the biggest era in music for today’s pop. But that is pretty debatable.

I enjoyed the music video. It had that Rocky Horror Show feel to it, which was quite big at the time (and I think it was big a few years back as well). I love how the whole music video can literally be turned into a movie. And how it was shot with a movie like feel. It is pretty creepy when you think back to it. Having your head lobed off or have your facial features stolen by some pretty and mysterious girl. To me, this has to be one of the best music videos this year to date. Everything that came together for this video worked really well with each other. The concept, the angles, the members, the editing and the really cool effects played well with each other. Jonghyun’s lips singing while in the bowl was pretty cool. Probably one of the most unique music videos to date. But if you don’t like heads getting chopped off (there is no blood in this video though), then you might not want to watch this.

The dance was really cool as well. Using back up dancers as your support is a pretty good idea to give off that impression of floating. Well, at least that is what I think they are trying to get at. I enjoyed how they interacted with the camera for the dance this time. It suits the fun side of KPOP that we are clearly missing.

Overall, a pretty good comeback but it got forgotten quickly. But it was hella unique and gave everyone memories to the 80s. 8/10

View – SHINee

-whispers- SHINee’s Back. Yeah… I just had to. After over a year of no promotions as a group in Korea, the 5 member boy group is finally back with a brand new album. Let’s see what the band has done since their last promotions of Everybody back in 2013. Taemin and Jonghyun made their respective solo debuts in 2014 and 2015. 2014 was essentially SHINee’s year in Japan with loads of promotions, releasing numerous songs in Japan and having tours and concerts in the country. And they recently had their 4th Korean tour in May. So they have been busy even though as a group they were more in Japan than Korea.

This song is pretty amazing. At first I thought it would be a very weak song. It lacked a lot the first time around. But when I got to listen to it more, I have to say it grew a lot on me. It was a powerful song is a very subtle way. It is a song that I would expect attract a lot of young teenagers nowadays, mainly because that is what they are all listening to now. And I said that in an elder’s voice. Hahaha… Not but seriously, I now think that this song can top so much. It is catchy and addictive. The instrumental is quite strong on its own and the vocal work is adds another dimension to the song entirely. I may have wanted a rap sequence somewhere in the song, mainly because that is what I expected from Minho, not just three lines. The ad-libs really did not go overboard in this song. The high pitch vocals were not needed, because I can imagine them singing at a lower note and still rocking this song. But overall, a pretty amazing song.

The music video made entirely no sense to me. I got the really obvious parts, but beside that, I felt it did not match the lyrics that well. From the music video, the boys are kidnapped by a group of girls somehow. Don’t know how because they kidnapped the guys in the city, with guns and masks on. Wouldn’t that be obvious? And where was the security team? Anyhow, it looks like they were taken to a more tropical jungle and released. To which they decided to stay with the girls, do some illegal work and partying up a storm with their kidnappers. Oh, and making out with them. Ummm.. Yes, the view was nice, but they are your kidnappers. Just a kindly reminder. AND YESS!! SM has finally unleashed SHINee out of the box. Can you believe it? I expect a brand new trend with SM music video’s. F(x), Red Velvet, SHINee and from memory, EXO as well. Good work!!!

The dance was okay. It matched the song really well. It just doesn’t have that SHINee feel that I am used to. There really were no iconic parts to the dance, like Ring Ding Dong, Sherlock, Everybody etc. But it did do the job for the song and comeback.

Song was amazing music video was okay (minus the confusion) and the dance managed to do well. Minho’s biceps agree with me. So do many Shawols. 7/10

Delicious – Toheart (Woohyun & Key)

Source: http://www.soompi.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/toheart_dance-800×450.jpg

As we all know, SM Entertainment recently took Woolim Entertainment under its wing to make themselves bigger. Hence a collaboration between the two companies was formed. Still don’t understand why they both had to join. But oh well. SHINee’s Key and Infinite’s Woohyun have come together as friends to form band mates in this special project group, named as Toheart. Still also don’t get the name. But joining two of the big groups in KPOP seems to be a good idea. Look at that profit flowing in. Hehehehehe… Well, at least they are not forced upon each other. They are best of friends who enjoy the company of each other (apparently they have never argued with each other before).

This song is okay. It is not a bad song nor is it a good song. It is just an okay song. There is nothing that special about it and honestly, it is once of those songs you listen to again and again, but will never get into it. First time I heard I was like “Chart topper right here”, but a few more times and I thought “this is really boring”. Yeah I said it. The song is really cheesy and the vocals were really meh in this song. I thought it was would be a really good collaboration, but it seems not to be. Iw as really excited when I heard the teasers, but this is a super let down. “Love is nutritious, love is delicious”. Hell, we are in no cooking class. Yeah, I also find this song really Key bias. It neglects Woohyun a lot. Well, I hear mostly Key and then a few Woohyun random spots, which to me is really disappointing, because last time I checked, Key was not “vocal” member of the group. But before I turn this into a criticising member session, I shall stop myself.

The music video was equally as boring. There is literally nothing captivating in this video. Usually, SM and Woolim have a music video that I would rave on and enjoy or disapprove, but I really cannot say anything about it, The boring-ness just made me speechless. I have watched the video. Well to precise, I forced myself to sit in front of a computer and watch the 6 minute video. Like who on earth, besides CCM, makes music videos longer than 5 minutes? I already have trouble sitting in a front of a computer for around 12 minutes. So why go for 6 minutes? And since it is a boring video the time I am viewing it is gonna decrease. Usually the sets would be cool, but seriously, a white back drop with fancy writing on it really does not cut out for it. Though, I did like that outdoor American style cafe dinner place, which looked awfully cool and also the parts where they are spinning those fire things. But beside all of that, no. Music video sucked.

The dance is okay. Not the best as well. But hey, together they looked pretty good. The use of the flowers and the proposing style seemed really cheesy to watch though. But anyway…

Yeah, well there is my ramble on how boring this comeback/debut is. Out of all seriousness, Tell Me Why was a much better song. 1/10.