After releasing twin full-length albums and a mini-album in 2013, Shinee took a well deserved break from the Korean music industry, spending the time away by releasing another album in Japan and performed at Tokyo Dome — not to mention Jonghyun and Taemin‘s solo debuts. Not much of a break, then; but while I do spare a thought for their health with such a hectic schedule, the concept for this comeback has it all under control. For Shinee hasn’t returned to the K-pop scene with a flying kick to the door and a battle cry of “SHINEE’S BACK,” but by leisurely strolling in with their hands in their pockets — and making just as much of an impact.
Shinee’s latest single “View” is the chill summer tune we never knew we wanted from the group. When you manage to get the catchy “Neomu Areumdaun daun daun daun view” out of your head, take some time to appreciate the melodious key-inspired synths of the verses, before the beat drops so beautifully in the chorus. Also appreciate how soft the vocals are: I’ve heard Shinee’s singing described as “shouty,” especially with how they are sung live while performing energetic choreography. But “View” is definitely outside that category, favouring delicate falsettos over belting out adlibs (though a couple do sneak through).
My only issue would be that Minho is too soft; his final line in the second verse is almost drowned out by the music and Onew‘s adlibs. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure his voice is what helps make the vocals in the chorus just that much deeper, so it’s a bit of good and bad with Minho’s singing voice. Perhaps the production could have been tweaked a bit more; but, overall, I’m just glad they didn’t jam a rap in there.
Jonghyun’s lyrics are cheeky (pun intended) with its repeated praise of their lover’s “down view,” and asking for the “next view.” Shinee’s been singing about sex for a while now, so the subject matter is no surprise. In “View,” the lyrics centre on the senses, especially sight (see: song title) and touch. In the final lines, though, all the senses are mixed around to create an image of the lovers’ “special place” the song refers to:
It’ll be the first time for anyone, like you (I feel a thousand senses)
Smelling and tasting the star light (I’ll never leave you lonely)
Feeling the weight of the scent (I won’t let you down)
Seeing the color and shape of sounds
That very last line is interesting, when you consider Jonghyun’s learning about and from a Blue Night listener (a radio show Jonghyun hosts) living with Synesthesia, someone who saw sounds in different colours and textures. Having no proven ability to read minds, I cannot say if this was an intentional reference; but if it is, then I appreciate how Jonghyun’s personal experiences have been woven into the narrative of this song.
As you can see, I have an appreciation for the lyrics and music. The music video, though?
My first thought after the first view was “this is a sasaeng’s wet dream.” And SM Entertainment would know what that would be like, seeing as they enable and encourage the culture for the sake of sales and profits. As Shinee is shuttled from one schedule to the next, escorted past a sea of faceless fans, they are chloroformed and kidnapped by four ethnically ambiguous young women, fans of the group. They have the posters on the walls to prove it!
After their initial ordeal, the members soon come to enjoy their freedom and the company of the fans; though, they are still wary of cameras and unwanted attention for what they do rather than for who they are. There’s a particularly striking shot of Jonghyun, noticing a man filming the group on his phone while on the street, knocks the phone away as he brushes past. That’s something you almost never see an idol do; whether they mind it or not, they will put up with all the cameras in their faces when they are out in public. On the flipside, the guy isn’t in Shinee’s (or an male K-pop group’s) fan demographic. But still, no celebrity is willing to risk bad press with a move like that, which goes to show how Jonghyun (and the rest of the members, when they run out of the shop after seeing themselves on the TV) treasure this time of relative anonimity.
This MV also features sex more explicitly than previous Shinee MVs (though still within its 15+ rating) while I don’t see myself sleeping with a guy because he got glassed while defending your honour (even if he is Minho), I can accept it better if, unlike the “I’m a fan, let’s bang!” treatment Onew receives, it is seen as two people coming together after spending time with, getting to know, and genuinely caring for one another. And I also ignore the voice in my head yelling “Stockholm Syndrome!”
Ultimately, though, I have trouble accepting this narrative; if only Shinee could be shown making the choice to run away with the fans and have fun! It’s just a music video and not the real world, but, by making the kidnappers fans and Shinee easily forgiving of their captors (I don’t see them hitchhiking with gangsters, for instance), it just reinforces how little agency idols hold when compared to the power companies and fans wield over them.
Aesthetically, though, the MV is a refreshing change. It matches the laid-back vibe of the song in every aspect. The shots are hazy, unsteady, and often in slow motion, which match the music perfectly; even action-heavy moments, like running from the police, are timed with the crescendo of synths leading to the beat drop. Even colour is used, with the scenes prior to the kidnapping in black and white. Similar changes can be seen in the styling. The member’s blazers, blue contacts and coiffed hair disappears as they relax into their tees and jeans, and pull off every stunt you’ve seen in a teen American film, from sneaking into swimming pools to bicycle rides through the streets.
Even the locations are low-key establishments with no flash at all. The most intricate scenery comes courtesy of nature, when Shinee and the girls are in the leafy grove. The dance scenes, meanwhile are not in some box containing geometric accomplishments, but a dingy old bar. The members’ faces are obscured, thanks to the well-placed glare of light from the window behind, as is the dance: but from what we can see, the dance is smooth like “Replay,” and simple like “Hello;” but it is definitely more relaxed than either. Like all of their other singles, Shinee had to play a part and emote a certain way (aegyo for “Hello,” scowling for “Lucifer,” etc.). With “View,” though, the concept means that the members can relax their face muscles and just have fun with the song.
Overall, I love the “relax” concept this comeback portrays, just in time for summer. Hard work is akin to a national characteristic in South Korea, and we fans see that reflected in our favourite idol groups everyday. With Shinee in particular, you can see how their comebacks almost consistently test their tenacity (2013, anyone?). And after seven years of hard toil, you could say that it’s time the group had a break. You, know, to stop and smell the roses.
To sit back, and enjoy the view.