Tomorrow is a bittersweet day in the Shawol fandom. It marks the 10th anniversary of SHINee‘s debut. As such, it was only fitting that my #TBT be dedicated to a group that firmly cemented my status as a fan of Korean pop music.
Though “Lucifer” was my official introduction to SHINee, the song that truly got me invested was “Love Like Oxygen.” In all honesty, I can’t truly explain what it is about the song that really got to me. “Replay” was catchy and cute in the way debut songs from burgeoning idol groups are catchy and cute. “Lucifer” was their moment to shed some of the baby fat and show a darker, “sexier” side to their boyish charms. However, “The Shinee World” was sort of that make or break moment, the moment when people decide if the group is worth their attention.
Vocally, I think the boys stretched a little further, but the composition and vocal arrangement was really a stroke of genius. Within the midst of a mostly uptempo piece of pop fare, that chorus breaks into an airy minor chord that would make lesser groups crumple. It’s in those few moments that you can truly see and appreciate just how vocally ahead of their peers these kids were.
I hadn’t been this impressed with a piece of music from an idol group since I’d first fallen for my ultimate K-pop loves, DBSK.
Even with the overabundance of pastels and Colgate White smiles, there’s an undeniable level of maturity to SHINee’s music. Their producers must have sensed there was something more there, because even as soon as their second album they lads were given music that would allow them to flex their musical muscles and push for so much more.
Thus the second part of this #TBT.
I couldn’t very well write about “Love Like Oxygen” and not mention “Love’s Way.” As I mentioned, “Lucifer” was the gateway drug, but “Love Like Oxygen” is what pulled me in. If that was the catalyst to get me truly intrigued, “Love’s Way” is the song that made me a fan for life. Why? Because it’s the first time I’d legitimately heard something that connected me to my childhood come out of South Korea.
First few notes of the song, I said to myself, “This sounds scarily similar to Force MDs‘s ‘Tender Love’.” So strong was this impression, I had to go and actually listen to the original track. The “ah-ha” moment I had smacked me so hard in the face I was dizzy. Needless to say I instantly fell in head over heels with “Love’s Way.” So whomever at SM takes credit for that stroke of genius … I’d like to buy that man or woman a round of soju.
“The Shinee World” was a brilliant piece of music, a sophomore release as legendary as that of their seniors (who snatched wigs, souls and lives with their own sophomore effort). With these two tracks, I forever gave my love to SHINee. I’ve got a timeshare and condo in the Shinee World, and I’m thinking of building a summer home.
Even as I celebrate this milestone in the group’s history, I can’t help but feel a twinge of pain. I won’t go into it. Honestly, if you’re reading this you already know why. Still, I’ll never forget the impact all five of these young men had on my K-pop experience. Not only was SHINee the first group I explored outside of DBSK, I can honestly say “Love Like Oxygen” and “Love’s Way” are the two songs that made me stick around and discover all the brilliant music Korea has to offer.