Album Review: SHINee – “2009, Year of Us”

Tracklist:
1. Y.O.U
2. Ring Ding Dong
3. JoJo
4. Get Down
5. SHINee Girl
6. 내가 사랑했던 이름 (Naega saranghaetdeon ireum; The Name I Loved)

SHINee’s third mini-album was released on October 19, 2009.

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Okay, I really like this cover. Red and black is always a great combination and this is no exception. I don’t know the proper photography term, but I also like the starkness of the colors, like the photo was taken with a common flash bulb.

Y.O.U is a very strong opening track. It starts off with a slow electronic drumbeat, which then gives way to some polished synths and quick-paced vocals. The chorus consists largely of the word “you”, but the ease and laid-back quality of the vocals provide a nice contrast to the high-speed lyrics of the verse. The harmonies are pretty spectacular as well, sounding seamless and never anything less. This song definitely puts the listener in the mood to hear some more great music, which is exactly what SHINee gives them.

Here it is. THE single off of this mini-album, Ring Ding Dong, is so hot it’s practically steaming. Did you ever think that, hey, congo drums and electric synths would sound great together? Well, they do. The vocals here sound very smooth, probably a result of the noticeable, though not excessive, Auto-Tune effects. Even so, the guys sound great, Jonghyun in particular. The rap sections sound really cool too. The lyrics may not be deep or thought-provoking, but I challenge anyone to listen to this song and not get the phrase “elastic fantastic” stuck in their head. In short, this is a MASSIVELY catchy song and it works on virtually every level.

JoJo, a softer but still upbeat R&B song, takes things down a bit, but not much. The most prominent feature of this song music-wise is the strong use of rippling, almost trance-like synths. Like the previous track, JoJo uses its title as a simple but highly effective hook that’s very likely to get stuck in your head even after just one listen. The rap verse is fairly short-lived, but it has a low, seductive quality that contrasts the rest of the song nicely. Definitely another great track.

With Get Down, we basically have a rap battle happening between Key and Minho. It’s got a very contemporary sound with a combination of blaring synth and even brass horns. The disembodied female vocals in the background also sound really bizarre. I’m not sure if I really care for them or not yet. In truth, the rapping gets a bit repetitive towards the end, but thankfully the song ends around the 3 minute mark.

SHINee Girl keeps with the theme of R&B and heavy use of synth, only with some interesting 8-bit elements. It’s very uptempo and definitely catches the listener’s attention. I like how the music never loses steam throughout the song, and the danceable beat remains catchy until the very end. This is yet another fairly short track so it doesn’t drag out too long.

내가 사랑했단 이름 acts as the perfect compliment to Y.O.U, a lovely way of bringing the mini-album to a close. A simple, traditional ballad with acoustic guitar and piano, the boys’ vocal performance is unembellished and genuine. After 5 largely manufactured-sounding tracks, the simplicity and beauty of this ballad really shine through, and its placement at the very end is brilliant.

Summary: I love K-Pop. The music is well-produced and slick, and nine times out of ten the artists in question have actual talent to dish out. SHINee definitely have both of these things going for them, and it couldn’t be more clear while listening to 2009, Year of Us that they’re not just any boy band. What’s really nice about this mini-album is that, at only six songs, its conciseness gives way to a distinct lack of “weak” tracks. This is pop music at its best and I have the utmost respect for the music that SHINee have given us.

Album Grade: A+

4 thoughts on “Album Review: SHINee – “2009, Year of Us”

    • Holla. :]
      I agree. Tracks 1-3 and 6 are all my favorites but on the whole it’s a really damn good mini-album. Gotta love SHINee ^_^

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