Review of SHINee’s “The First”

Time for my overdue thoughts on SHINee’s debut Japanese album, “The First”. I’ll give a brief overview of my opinions twice – once before listening to the album in its entirety, and once after listening to all of the songs. I’m still an average fanboy with no formal music training (aka, SM’s target audience) so if you’re looking for a review from an established and intellectual individual I highly recommend this one.

The K-Pop craze has cooled down lately due to a myriad of the successful groups debuting in Japan. Admittedly, some have been better than others. I’m concerned for SHINee because despite their album being titled “The First” I feel that they should be growing as a group even if they’re promoting in another country – instead, they’re stagnating. The re-released songs for the most part are sub-par compared to the originals, and the album as a whole lacks the maturity I would’ve expected from SHINee at this stage of their careers. Maybe my opinion will change after listening to all of the songs again, we’ll see.

I like the album cover, but can someone please explain the random clown and rainbow and rabbit at the bottom? Seems a little immature.

1. Lucifer: So my reaction to this song wasn’t as bad as the first time I listened to it, but I wasn’t impressed either. The Japanese still sounded awkward to me and the song itself doesn’t possess the punch that the original does. Also, Minho’s frog voice rap was unbearably uncomfortable – especially while watching the video, because you could hear the mutilated, auto-toned voice coming out of his not-so abnormal mouth.

2. AMIGO: “You’re the hottest ice cream ninja.” HA HA HA HA HA. Like I told my blogging friend in a comment on her review I literally laughed out loud for five minutes after hearing that, told my friends about it and then laughed some more. Not in a mean way, because I doubt SHINee even knows what they’re saying, but just at the sheer ridiculousness of the English.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite songs on the album. I’m biased because I loved the original version and overall I find the song very catchy. Perhaps not the most well-produced re-release, but passable to the point where I would listen to it while working out.

Remember when the original song came out a million years ago? I really want a video for this Japanese verison, mainly because it would be... well... sexy. I suppose.

3. Juliette: Eh, still disappointed about Taemin taking Jonghyun’s lines. Not enamored or embittered by the song, it’s okay.

4. Better: I feel like this song is one of the mandatory ballads that the album must have, aka, filler. I’m not a ballad guy myself when it comes to K-Pop, so I’m not sure whether the fact that this song doesn’t leave a lasting impression on me should be attributed to its averageness or my own inability to appreciate male ballads.

5. To Your Heart: A slightly better ballad than “Better”, but still not splendid. The chorus is moderately catchy and the song as a whole has an undeniable cuteness factor.

6. Always Love: Another forgettable ballad. Its English leaves something to be desired… perhaps fixing the faulty phrase “thank you for your treating me.”

7. Replay: My opinion of this song is similar to that of “AMIGO” because I loved the original version of this song, and thus due to the minimal changes made to it I also like the Japanese version. “Replay” has such a beautiful sound to it – I’m not music-savvy enough to say why, but there’s something about the song that makes it stand out among all of SHINee’s other releases, even “Lucifer” and “Ring Ding Dong.” This is a song I would write to, regardless of the language it’s in.

“Replay” is also similar to “AMIGO” in that it has an awkward English phrase: “you don’t know what is love I will give it to you.” I wouldn’t mind Key carrying out this proposed action though… yeah…

8. START: A failed attempt at attracting fangirls – maybe some will find the whole “I want to start” line cute, yet the song itself is too forgettable and filler-like for me to consider it seriously.

9. Love Like Oxygen: Never got into the original version of this song, I think this version is okay. Once again not amazing but not abhorrent.

10. Hello: Woo for rehashed cuteness! My favorite part of this song is when Key says “baby girl” repeatedly at the end. I feel repetitive, but this song is also okay. Just okay.

11. The SHINee World: Did they say “I want to get you in this body” in the original version? Did they also say “make love right now?” That could be misinterpreted… anyway, I suppose this is their anthem song. It reminds me of f(x)’s My Style, except more developed. I actually like this song more than the majority of the album, it’s catchy, though not nearly as addictive as “AMIGO” or “Replay”.

12. Seesaw: My least favorite song of the album. I appreciate their attempt to incorporate metaphor into one of their songs, but a seesaw doesn’t really work and the song itself is unremarkable.

13. Stranger: A great song to end the album with. Its energetic and shows how auto-tune can be used to one’s advantage, and thankfully it’s not a remake of an original song either. Definitely one of the better songs of the album.

I like their pants. Image via allkpop.

So, as you can see from my gradually decreasing enthusiasm throughout this post, this album didn’t amaze me in any way. It’ll probably win over some (or a lot) of new fans from Japan, but as someone who’s been listening to SHINee for quite some time now I am not impressed. The decent re-releases and “Stranger” do not make up for the slog of boring ballads or the overall lack of growth in this album. I won’t denounce my liking or fanboy status of SHINee, but I hope they do better with their next album.

On a happier note, look at this adorable gif I found! Happy holidays to all you shawols out there!


Filed under J-Pop, K-Pop

9 responses to “Review of SHINee’s “The First”

  1. I’m not really into K-pop and that’s largely due to my not being able to understand a syllable of Korean. But I’ve checked these guys on you tube some of their songs do sound catchy even to my inexperienced ears. Do you really speak both Korean and Japanese?

  2. Oh, hay.

    First off, hope you’re having a fun Christmas (if you celebrate it, that is). I see you’ve been productive, as you said you would be. (ME, TOO. I ACTUALLY STUDIED FOR THE SAT!)

    Anyway, this was a good review, despite your claiming of being inexperienced in music. I like that you’re straightforward with what you like and what you don’t. I have to agree with you on a lot of your points, mostly with the forgettable ballads part. See, I don’t even remember how they sound. This is an indication of your correctness.

    I also agree that “Stranger” is a really good song, I remember listening to it and thinking “Wow, this is really nice.” “Amigo” is good, but I still haven’t heard this infamous “ice cream ninja” line that I’ve been hearing about. Hmm.

    There’s also a qualm I have with the concept of the album. I watched the behind the scenes footage of when they were photographing, and the concept is just… it makes no sense. Now, I appreciate artistry and such, but there was nothing particularly artsy about them posing with shopping carts and rabbit masks. Then again, I don’t expect anything reminiscent of Warhol or Picasso from an industry that manufactures their stars, so…

    Lastly, the one thing I disagree with you on is with “Seesaw”. That happened to be the first song I listened to from the album, and I have to say I really liked it. While the metaphor may be silly, it’s still an interesting song. It reminds me of some of their earlier work and isn’t as R&B as some of the other songs (I can’t stand R&B).

    • I hope you’re having a fantastic Christmas as well, Erika. Good work on studying for the SAT, I really need to do that…

      Thank you for the compliment! I agree that the concept was rather vague, I think SM just threw something together and hoped that it looked impressive enough for fans to grab on to.

      The “you’re the hottest ice cream ninja” line is at the very end of the song, once you hear it you will never forget it. Trust me.

      Also, I can see what you mean about “Seesaw”, though I don’t necessarily agree. In a way the metaphor does make the song different and it is interesting, so I guess it can go either way in terms of whether one likes it or not.

      Thanks for reading and commenting like always. (:

  3. as always, thank you for the shout-out! did you know that you are the first result that pops up when you search ‘shinee the first review’? 🙂


    • You’re welcome! And no, I did not know that, though now I feel guilty/undeserving – your review is so much better! It’s the first result only because I posted my review more recently… after all, you are the SHINee/K-Pop/music queen. 🙂

  4. whitepegasus91

    i don’t like this album. Their first album are wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better,seriously. I’ve decided that i’m not gonna buy this album,not worth it.

    • I agree, I liked their earlier albums more too. I also support your decision not to buy this album… as much as I love SHINee, I didn’t buy this one either.

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