SHINHWA ‘Touch’ Review

On January 5th, 2017, CJ E&M Music posted the long-awaited comeback music video for veteran group SHINHWA. The single from the group’s 13th album, “Unchanging”, called “Touch”, is not your typical breakup and regret song, even though regret is one of the major emotions that can be felt in this song and video.

The video can be broken up into seven major parts, one for each member and the final climax at the end. Each member does an excellent job in telling their part of the story using both lyric and action to convey compelling emotions of regret and self-loathing, as well as an almost sad appreciation for the woman who left.

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The video opens with Hye-Sung, dressed in all black, walking into a room of pure white. The contrast in colors indicates mourning of something innocent. The lyrics in this portion also allude to this, as they speak of the moments he remembers. They give the feeling of loss without giving away what has transpired.

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The following scene, starring Min-Woo in the hallway, is a total change to the previous lighter one. The ambiance is much darker, and the lyrics start to take a darker turn, revealing the less than desirable parts of her personality while also disclosing the fact that he knew that she would leave and he was powerless to stop that. Still, we have no idea why the relationship has failed.

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It is not until the third scene, starring Dong-Wang in the bathroom, that it is shown he is the cause of the relationship’s breakdown, stating that he had not been a good man. The song also takes a self-depriving turn, as he states that he knows he has no right to beg for another chance. This scene also shows that he is almost at his own breaking point as he comes to realize his own faults.

It is of interest to note the choices of lighting and filters used in these three shots. While the first is clear, the second is back-lit and the third had a slight sepia tint. The melody is a simple, using only a few stems looped and stacked together, creating a more reflective sound.

The pre-chorus is where this song takes a deviation from the normal breakup song. Instead of trying to persuade the ex to return, they are encouraging her departure, telling her not to them who only caused her pain. There is also a self-loathing tone seen here, as the group refers to themselves as slow idiots who only know how to hurt the one they loved.

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The chorus, while keeping the tone of the song somber, slightly sped up in tempo. To balance this and contain it in the overall desired effect, the choreography that can be seen in this part is very minimal, with small, sharp movements that add to the accents of the instrumentation in this part, as if they are attempting to take attention off themselves.

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The fourth scene features Eric in a library. This scenery choice is very interesting, as books are often seen as gateways to other worlds, especially worlds of fantasy. This is important symbolism as there is a line in the rap of this portion that states that there is no second chance. The tone and cadence of Eric’s delivery is dark and void of emotion as if he is delivering a cold hard truth.

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Another symbolic scene is the following one depicting Andy in a black room, in front of a mirror, and under a crystal chandelier. The key interaction in this part is between Andy and the chandelier. During this part, the lyrics ask for the woman to act like ice, to be cold-hearted so that he can move on from her and his guilt.

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The rawest and honest part of the song and video is the sixth scene with Jun-Jin leaning on the car. It is a self-reflective scene, where he admits that he knew he was not acting in a loving manner. He also expresses a slight astonishment that she stayed and believed in him despite his inexcusable behavior. He admits his faults and fully realizes that he has lost someone special.

It is at this point that the full mental breakdown begins. Jun-Jin drives into a wall. The once clean white room is now full of dirt. A blizzard has overtaken the hall. The chandelier has fallen. The library is on fire. Dong-Wang now sits, fully clothed, in an overflowing bathtub in a flooding bathroom. All these scenes show sheer mental distress, but each member has an emotionless face, which shows more acceptance than grief as the video ends.

The styling of the video augmented the tone of the song excellently, using subdued and simple choices in clothing and makeup. There were no flashy or glitzy outfits, apart from the black sequined blazer worn during the choreography. Even with the slight sparkle of the blazer, the effect remained firmly intact.

Overall, this lead single from Shinhwa’s 13th album further cements them as legends in the Korean music industry, with simple yet powerful rapping and crisp, clear, and concise vocals and harmonies. Who knows what they will release next?

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