Friday, March 23, 2012

KOREAN MUSIC: The Showdown between SHINHWA and SHINee (2)

14 신화, 4 샤이니 맞짱뜨다
The Great Showdown between 14-Year-Old SHINHWA and 4-Year-Old SHINee!

Just two days after SHINee’s mini album was released, SHINHWA returned with their tenth studio album “SHINHWA: The Return” after a 4-year hiatus.  FYI, SHINHWA made its stage debut on KMTV’s “Show Music Tank” (03/24/1998), 10 years and 2 months prior to SHINee’s stage debut on SBS’s “Ingi Gayo” (인기가요, “Popular Music”) (05/25/2008).  It’s quite ironic that SHINee first appeared in the K-pop scene around the time SHINHWA disappeared from the scene (into a 4-year break), and now almost simultaneously, both made their much anticipated comebacks.  SHINHWA used to be affiliated with SHINee’s SM Entertainment (SM), thus heavily influenced by the SM style, and they are the longest-running current idol group in Korean music history, with all six original members surviving.  Tomorrow (03/24) is their 14th year anniversary and they’ll celebrate the day and their comeback by having a two-day concert, “The Return,” where they will unveil their new songs and performances “live” in Seoul at the Seoul Olympic Park Gymnasium respectively on March 24 and 25.

SHINee’s two-day long chart domination ended when SHINWHA’s comeback album, “The Return,” and its eleven tracks all made a clean sweep of all real-time charts as soon as it was released.  “Venus,” one of the album’s two title tracks (“Hurts” is the other), ranked number one of course, and previously on March 20, all thirty thousand copies of their limited edition 11-track CD album were sold out in half a day.  An insider of Shinhwa Company, the group’s self-owned label and entertainment agency, said they had poured incredible amounts of money (2 billion won, i.e., 1.760 million dollars) and effort into the album, the music video(s?), and the concert, therefore it’s worth anticipating what SHINHWA would bring to your eyes as well as ears.

Now, here’s my two cents.  The title track, “Venus,” applied “electronic echo effects” that have been continuously used in such songs as DJ DOC’s “Na ireon saramiya” ( 이런 사람이야, “I’m This Kind of Man”), Sistar’s “So Cool,” and Tony An’s “Top Star.”  (FYI, Psy (싸이) wrote DJ DOC’s “I’m This Kind of Man” (song) and Tony An’s “Top Star” (song and lyrics) and DJ DOC featured in Sistar’s “So Cool” MV.)  For that reason, the song sounded quite old (a little déjà vu-ish) even at first listen.  But I’ll have to wait until its music video comes out to see if the song can eventually grow on me.  Don’t get me wrong though.  I didn’t mean that I don’t like the song.  I love all eleven tracks but I just prefer others over "Venus."

After listening to all eleven tracks a few times, I decided SHINHWA came back with “vengeance” to prove they’ve still got "it" and I think they made it.  They are just getting better and deeper with age.  And tell me about the rock-solid bonds among the members!  Only one problem is they have just set the bar too high for other younger generation idol groups to only follow.  Earlier yesterday, Leeteuk of Super Junior (SJ) tweeted, “Shinhwa hyeongnim(deul)! You’re awesome! We will also love and count on each other! Beware! Super Junior is earnestly trying to keep up with you!”  Yes, that’s the spirit!  Honestly. I think SJ's most likely to be the next SHINHWA in many ways - they were kind of second best to TVXQ just like SHINHWA was to HOT before rising to stardom; they seem to get along with and care about each other and themselves really well as SHINHWA has been; and both groups are not projected as straightlaced or clean-cut....

Okay, let’s get back to this showdown between SHINHWA and SHINee.  It’s too early to tell who’s going to win but I'll bet my own money on SHINHWA (even though I love them both). For one, their loyal, die-hard fans for 10+ years are now in their late twenties or thirties (or even forties), ready to open up their wallet to pay for whatever SHINHWA brings to them; and two, it’s just like “Boys Meet Men”… yet.  

Here’s the Youtube link where you can enjoy all eleven tracks of the new SHINHWA album in auto play.

[UPDATE]  SHINHWA released the official music video 
of the title track, "Venus," on March, 28, 2012.

[MV] SHINHWA: Venus (2012) 

[LIVE] SHINHWA: Hurts (2012) 
Mnet's "M! Countdown": First Stage Comeback (03/29/2012)

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