In the K-pop industry, the word â????comebackâ???? is used to refer to any new album or song release and doesnâ????t especially hold the same weight it does in the west for an artistâ????s career revival. So when SHINee release their first album together in nearly three years, comeback might be thrown around but this is truly the next-step extension of what the boy band has been doing together for more than a decade now.
Donâ????t Call Me is the seventh full-length album released by SHINee, featuring Onew, Key, Minho and Taemin together with nine new tracks to bring to their beloved boy-band magic. While the album opens with the dramatic rap-heavy title track, the LP warps through throbbing synth-dance cuts, sentimental R&B ballads, and shiny funk-pop anthems to show thatâ????even as they approach 13 years togetherâ????the SHINee sound still can’t be completely pinned down beyond their harmony-heavy blend.
As Key sees it, this album doesnâ????t hold any particular special meaning above othersâ????this is what SHINee has always done and will continue to do. â????Itâ????s our natural thing,â???? he says during a video call from Seoul with his members. â????This isnâ????t a special album per se, these are just our natural selves.â????
Their natural SHINee selves also include a noticeably close camaraderie during the interview: each member frequently whispers or talks to one another while another speaks, they instinctively know whose coffee drink is whose, and can completely flip anyoneâ????s interview answer on its headâ????like when Key revealed, in his dead-pan tone, that a backstage visit from Minho was hardly the â????surpriseâ???? the rapper claimed it to be moments earlier.
Even if SHINee claims what they do today is natural, handling your way through a vocal and choreography performance that â????Donâ????t Call Meâ???? requires just shows why SHINee has earned their place as pure pop royalty. Read on for more on what the guys had to say on their return, growth since their last album release, favorite songs and more.
Jeff Benjamin: Itâ????s great that SHINeeâ????s back. Whatâ????s it like being together as a group recording, rehearsing, and doing interviews like this?
Onew: Obviously we have our own expectations for ourselves as a group since itâ????s been a while, but weâ????re excited. The overall atmosphere back together and being able to do this again has been great.
Taemin: Itâ????s been a while that weâ????ve been together working on an album together and I think weâ????re able to emit this synergyâ????itâ????s a synergy that doesnâ????t happen in our individual activities.
Jeff Benjamin: Minho, you went right from your military discharge to meeting the members backstage at [Korean music show] Inkigayo. Why was it important for you all to meet up so quickly?
Minho: This is going to sound obvious, but I just really missed them. When I heard they were all together, I really wanted to surprise them because it had been so long.
Key: It wasnâ????t a surprise at all. We all knew he was going to come to Inkigayo, we were just thinking, â????No, heâ????s not going to wear a military uniform.â???? But he was wearing it. [Laughs]
Jeff Benjamin: Looking at Donâ????t Call Me at large, what does a SHINee album represent today in 2021?
Key: You know itâ????s been 13 years since we debuted, right? Honestly, itâ????s really hard to show something new to audiences because it feels like weâ????ve done everything. And we tried every concept. So, these days weâ????re focused on making a well-made album. We were collecting a lot of good songs but we didnâ????t care about genres or style of music, we just wanted to combine well-made songs. We want to show that this isnâ????t a special album per se, these are just our natural selves: Weâ????re singers. Releasing an album isnâ????t a unique thing for us; itâ????s our natural thing.
Jeff Benjamin: So even if this is SHINee back in its natural habitat, what does â????Donâ????t Call Meâ???? represent as the title track single?
Taemin: There were a lot of potential title tracks that were on the list. But for us, â????Donâ????t Call Meâ???? was a really strong standout track because we didnâ????t want to just showcase SHINeeâ????s usual colors and usual style but emphasize the performance aspect with this comeback. We felt like â????Donâ????t Call Meâ???? was the song for that. Also, you probably know this, but SHINee has never released songs that are hip-hopâ????based so we felt like that was something new to try as well.
Taemin: â????CÃ??DEâ???? because I personally feel like itâ????s a song that showcases SHINeeâ????s maturity. Even though itâ????s got SHINeeâ????s signature vibe in it, thereâ????s a mature sound. We worked with [songwriter] Kenzie and [producers] LDN Noise on this one, we work with them so much and I personally just like their sound so much so it was a great track for me.
Key: â????Heart Attack.â???? So, â????Heart Attackâ???? and â????Donâ????t Call Meâ???? are like black and white. â????Donâ????t Call Meâ???? is based on hip-hop and itâ????s quite strong, but â????Heart Attackâ???? is light and I think itâ????s typical of SHINeeâ????s funky pop sound.
Onew: I personally like â????I Really Want Youâ???? because it really sounds like a SHINee song, really our color.
Jeff Benjamin: I want to ask about some specific songs too. â????Marry Youâ???? is a very mature moment as the final part of the ongoing story that began with â????Replayâ???? in 2008.
Key: Thereâ????s a story of â????Replay,â???? â????Lovesickâ???? and â????Marry You,â???? and we thought about how this universe matters a lot to our fansâ????itâ????s an independent world from SHINee World. Weâ????re going to keep trying to make those kinds of universes, fans really like that, but we want to say that weâ????re still keeping on with this story. Weâ????re still the same SHINee as our story continues.
Jeff Benjamin: One of my favorite tracks is â????Kind.â???? I felt it represents SHINeeâ????s relationship, but can you explain it more?
Minho: Yes, it does represent the relationship between our members but itâ????s also a song expressing our relationship with our fans; really any person we love or that we care about basically. Out of all the tracks, itâ????s more on the quieter and slower side and that does make more of an impact when youâ????re listening to the whole album.
Jeff Benjamin: You last released an album in 2018, what changes or surprises have you noticed between one another since returning to work?
Minho: For me, itâ????s probably Taemin. Heâ????s the only one who hasnâ????t been in the military while the rest of us were these years. I was kind of surprised to see how well he was keeping up with the trends and all that.
Taemin: I was just surprised at how well kept up, it was as if they never left for that year-and-a-half. Even when we were practicing choreography, they were telling me, â????Oh Iâ????m so tiredâ???? or â????I donâ????t know if I can do this.â???? But when we saw the actual video of our practice, I was actually really really satisfied. Probably the most satisfied Iâ????ve been compared to our previous releases. Itâ????s just great to see theyâ????re all still on top of it in terms of their physical condition and their ability to keep up with trends. Iâ????ve been hearing a lot of comments from other artists and friends saying they all are so much more handsome and got so much cooler.
Jeff Benjamin: To wrap up, is there a message youâ????d like to share with fans around the world?
Onew: Obviously, we worked really hard on this comeback and we put a lot of effort not just into the performance but every aspect of it. I think fans can expect to see a far-more matured SHINee this comeback. Please look forward to it.
I write about music from around the world; covering everything from Latin to K-pop, Afrobeat to Arab pop, and the artists buzzing throughout Africa, Asia, the Americas
I write about music from around the world; covering everything from Latin to K-pop, Afrobeat to Arab pop, and the artists buzzing throughout Africa, Asia, the Americas and anywhere else. My work has appeared in the New York Times, Billboard, Rolling Stone, NPR, Teen Vogue, BuzzFeed and beyond with my expertise called up by CNN, The Washington Post, Good Morning America, USA Today, ABC News, MTV and more. I’m a freelance writer based in New York City, with my work bringing me to South Korea, Japan, England and around the world. I’m always listening for something that sounds good and always looking to discuss what gets a listener excited.
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