You know those trashy magazines with headlines like “ALIEN worms CRAWLED in my EAR and ATE my BRAIN!!!”?
They’re talking about this song. From Jonghyun’s first powerfully belted “Baby”, through the hypnotic bridge of “Rocka rocka rocka rocka rocka rocka fantastic” (and so on), to the triumphant “Ring ding dong” chorus, this song is one long hooky earworm. You’ll be infected, you’ll be infested, and soon you won’t be able to think of anything else. That’s why it’s the song most banned by students during college entrance exam periods – they said that listening to this song drove everything else out of their heads.
Musically, it was a departure from their debut, which was mellow R&B, from the ‘Princes of K-pop’. This is tight EDM, with a beat that will have you dancing whether you want to or not, from the bad boys.
Or at least that’s what they claim. Yes, they’re dressed to kill, and their dance skills are awesome, and Jonghyun, Minho and Key at least look sufficiently wild, while Onew’s voice alone gets him over the line. But Taemin was still only 16 when they did this song, and despite the black ‘fallen angel’ wings, seeing him drink milk makes him look like the innocent he really was, with his floppy Beatles haircut and his baby face.
The imstrumentation is kept to some tight percussion strictly on the beat, and nothing more, and that was an inspired decision, because it helped make this song the total musical legend that it is. The rhythm is completely inescapable, and the lack of intrusive instrumentation allows the voices to carry the melody.
My only complaint with this song is the use of auto-tune. While I’m not averse to a bit of auto-tune as an effect, in this case it’s counterproductive, since it occludes the exceptionally good voices you’d otherwise be able to hear from this group. The MV was pretty iconic, and the rooftop signage and the dancing in water and both appeared in MV’s by other idol groups. The choreography, like all SHINee choreographies, is complex and distinctive, and it’s obvious even this early that Taemin was the best of a group of very talented dancers.
I couldn’t find a dance practice video, but I did find a live performance on TV, which not only shows most of the choreography, but also gives more of the vocals unencumbered by auto-tune, which is good. If you watch closely, you can see they’re a bit apprehensive at times, probably because they’re on a stage they haven’t had enough time to rehearse on. It’s interesting to watch the singers letting loose – the two main vocalists, Jonghyun and Onew, are very powerful singers, Key is also a strong singer, and even the rapper, Minho, is a strong singer, which is not always the case. Taemin has a good voice but is a little hesitant, although he’s definitely improved over the course of his career.
Lyrics video as usual contains English translation, Romanisation, and Hangul.