Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: SHINee–“Sherlock (Clue + Note)”

SHINee should…probably not quit their day jobs to become detectives.

Did you like the song?

In age order: Onew, Jonghyun, Key, Minho, and Taemin. (Or, if you switched Minho and Key, it would be in my order of increasing hotness. Just my opinion/biases.)

Okay, okay, hold up, because this is the first time I’ve written an entire post about SHINee, and I’m keen to gripe talk about them. At one point, around the time of the release of “Lucifer” (so, late 2010), I would have said without hesitation that SHINee was my absolute favorite band, Kpop or otherwise. Man, those were the days when I literally pulled all-nighters just to obsessively devour all of “Hello Baby,” which is still my favorite idol program (surpassed only by those episodes of “Exploration of the Human Body” in which DBSK was featured on Super Junior’s show—because, well, there was just too much hotness in that room).

But then guess what happened—SHINee up and disappeared for a year and a half, basically. (Hence the “SHINee’s back” line at the beginning of this song.) Now, I know they didn’t vanish from the face of the earth; they just went to Japan. But in my opinion, SM’s decision to take them to Japan was one of the worst moves they could have made at that time, at what I saw was the height of their popularity in South Korea. Because—again, in my opinion—what I saw SHINee releasing from Japan were horrible covers of their own songs that I cringed while watching because it seemed to me that they were regressing in Japan. They weren’t getting better, they weren’t developing new skills and learning new techniques; they were poorly re-hashing old ones. My one-time overwhelming biases, and I literally had trouble getting through the entirety of the Japanese version of “Lucifer.”

Eventually I stopped obsessively checking for updates as to their whereabouts and moved on to other groups, letting SHINee fall off my radar and hoping that when they decided to reappear in Korea, they’d be better for their traveling. In actuality all that happened was that they became hippies.

SHINee Sherlock hippies members names

Jonghyun, Key, Onew, Minho, and Taemin.

And, well, I guess this song is good, but just not enough to convince me that they’re better than they were (although that’s subjective, of course). It definitely has a “SHINee feel,” sounding to me like a mixture of “Love Like Oxygen,” “Hello,” and “Juliette,” it’s just…not as good. (Correction: it is definitely better than “Hello.” But I legitimately hate that song.) I guess my main issue is that it seems to take a really long time to get going, and I get impatient for that gorgeous chorus.

What was your favorite part of the song?
Speaking of which, SHINee’s trademark is the lovely, sweeping transition from the verses to the chorus, which usually makes the song, and “Sherlock” is no exception. The chorus with its superb “I’m so curious, yeah” line is unquestionably the best part of this song. But I find that the verses are not particularly good.

Does the English make you want to rip your eardrums out?
…and I especially dislike all the unnecessary self-referential parts (specifically the “give it up [for SHINee]” part, which was repeated six times). I understand the point of name-dropping yourself once in a song, at the beginning, so people know who you are, but asking listeners repeatedly to “give it up,” which to me means “give us a standing ovation,” seemed supremely arrogant and then awkward because there was very little swagger in this music video. Self-referential lines + swagger = tolerable, if irritating. Self-referential lines without swagger = strange and unsettling.

I did, however, immensely enjoy the English in the prestigious New York News newspaper, renowned of all publications, paragon of journalistic professionalism. Even if I’d hesitate to call our amateur sleuths “GREAT DETECTIVE SHINEE” (yes, in the singular).

SHINee Sherlock newspaper English

Superb work, Mr. Editor In Chief.

Did you like the video?
Heh. Well. Let me preface this by saying I MOCK BECAUSE I CARE.

Guys, I have so many complaints about this music video that I feel really bad that it’s the first thing I’m posting after my unexpected hiatus. But what can I do? When something’s unsatisfactory, it’s not like falsely praising it will improve it.

So the boys are all living together in this dusty, washed out steampunk universe. (How else can you explain all the old-timey, Victorian stuff juxtaposed with…a laptop? Why does Key get a laptop while Onew has to peck away at a typewriter?) They have a loft (which looks…strangely familiar…almost reminiscent of that stupid brick room that has inexplicably featured in many music videos lately). Still, I guess they have to live somewhere. I just wish they didn’t have a staircase to nowhere in their actual apartment. It makes me very nervous.

SHINee Sherlock set

The literal Stairway to Heaven.

And I also don’t really see the point in a huge bookshelf…that has the top three shelves empty because nobody can reach it. But I’m unnecessarily focusing on the set and props.

Another thing is their costumes. At times, they look like they really fit into the scene of pseudo-Victorian era clothing. I was totally digging Key’s hipster glasses and the monochromatic suits and the hint of the boys rocking the tweed. And top hats! And suspenders!

SHINee Sherlock promo teaser photo

Onew, Taemin, Jonghyun, Minho, and Key.

But then suddenly—bam!—hippies. Shorts with stars on them, tennis shoes, and I swear to God Taemin is wearing a Native American poncho.

SHINee Sherlock wardrobe clothes

Some questionable design decisions. (Key, Taemin, Jonghyun, Onew, and Minho.)

I don’t want to know where Onew’s weird fishnet vest thing came from. People refer to “fishnet stockings,” but what he’s wearing looks like it may actually be a net for catching fish in.

SHINee Sherlock Onew vest

The anachronisms start to give me a headache after a while, so let’s just move on.

Was there a storyline? If so, did it make sense?
Let me put it plainly: I don’t know why they named this song “Sherlock” because this case is too dumb for Sherlock Holmes to take on.

So let me get this straight: there is missing jewelry in a museum, and the police are of course blind as well as utter morons, so they call in the SHINee consulting detective squad. SHINee helpfully points out the “clues” as to where the missing jewelry might be, which they discovered by the top-notch sleuthing means of picking stuff up off the damn floor. (Uh—how slow are they, exactly? And is this really a burglary? It seems more like a museum worker took the jewelry into a back room for cleaning or something.) Anyway, in the meantime a helpful ghost keeps appearing and giving clues to the guys separately (and then mysteriously disappearing), and nobody ever mentions it. Minho takes a picture with his huge old camera, at least, so it’s clear that friendly ghost!Jessica (from SNSD) can be photographed, but he never seems to show the picture to anyone (except at the end when it’s on the desk).

SNSD Jessica in SHINee Sherlock music video

Um, let me tell you, if I were working a case and an apparition kept turning up, the first thing I would do is freak the hell out and run away. Then I would probably do a little screaming and questioning of my sanity. I assume at this point, my four hot roommates would notice that something was A Little Off and would ask me what was wrong. Then I would point out that I’d seen something that I thought was a ghost, but obviously couldn’t be, because ghosts are not real.

Then guess what would happen?! All four of my hot roomies would say at the same time, “Oh, yeah! That happened to me, too!” Then we’d commiserate over our collective hallucination (and possibly sign up for group therapy). And then realize that if we’re collectively and separately hallucinating, probably Something Is Up, i.e. we’re dealing with a supremely confident, lunatic genius of a jewelry thief who is just taunting us with all the clues about her identity she’s dropping all over the place (which include the actual location of the stash of stolen crap).

SHINee Sherlock 221 address review

Yes, guys. It really is this easy. No, really.

Possible scenarios for how this could be a brilliant crime in reality include fooling the detective force via: aerosol drugs, dummies, holograms, projectors, or a combination of all of that or something else. But you know what I would not do? Assume that the ghost is real, used to be a girl from 1910 whom a statue was made of, and then shrug and move on.

SHINee Sherlock SNSD Jessica girl

“Yup, seems plausible. Okay, case closed!” WHAT?!

I do, however, appreciate the little Holmesian touches the props department has attempted to include, like Key’s iWatson laptop, Onew’s magnifying glass, Taemin’s violin, the foggy noir-esque streets and smoky streetlamps, and the 221 address to ghost!Jessica’s hidden room (though really, shouldn’t it be 221B? *picky fan is picky*).

SHINee Sherlock Onew gif

Onew striking a very Holmesian pose.

But it has to be said: Sherlock Holmes would not consider a case closed when the only solution is that there is actually a real ghost. Holmes is a very scientific and logically-minded character, neither of which is consistent with believing in ghosts. I’m not sure whether he would laugh or weep at the ineptitude with which SHINee handled this case.

SHINee Taemin violin Sherlock

It’s okay; many ills can be solved via Taemin-with-a-violin.

Was the dance cool and distinctive?
Cool? Of course. It’s SHINee. Distinctive? Eh, not really.

This dance—the SHINee signature in music videos, if you will; the thing everyone looks forward to seeing—was something of a letdown for me. I mean, it was definitely the best part of the video, don’t get me wrong—this is a SHINee MV, after all! And of course it has a bunch of interesting moments…but they didn’t really coalesce for me. I didn’t get an overall feel for the dance or understand why they used particular moves. And I disliked the parts where the boys all cross their arms and take huge, loping, strutting steps forward. It looked rather unintentionally comical to me.

However, there are very compelling moments throughout, even if they are a bit disjointed. For example, I loved the various spinning and wave moves and especially the move where they go crisply into a squatting position. Very cool.

SHINee Sherlock dance move cool

Uh, this part, kind of? I couldn’t find a good gif. *cries*

Do the members look good?
I know, I know, here is the point where people start asking why I can’t just shut up and appreciate that Taemin’s hair extensions are back. But down that road is a black hole from which only a few mortal humans emerge intact.

SHINee Taemin Sherlock sparkly pretty

Still, I suppose we can spend some time being literally mesmerized.

SHINee Taemin hair extensions Sherlock

Hours later…Was that puddle of drool there before?

SHINee Sherlock promo pictures teaser

Taemin: turning otherwise normal people into pedophiles since 1993. (Though technically that makes him 18, so no more pedophilia? Yay…) For more sultry!SHINee, check out the other promo pictures here.

Taemin has solidly arrived as one of the most gorgeous people in Kpop right now. It’s true that I’m a hugely biased fan of his, but I’m certain that his gorgeousness isn’t just my subjective opinion; it’s an actual fact.

As for the other members, Jonghyun and Minho always look very hot and intense. But I have a bone to pick with SHINee’s stylists this time around re: Onew and Key. Onew needs careful handling with his Condition, and he didn’t seem to get it here. I mean, that one moment where he’s fingering the magnifying glass is sexy as hell, but his terrible parted-down-the-middle hair?—never again, please, stylists.

SHINee Sherlock Onew hair

Too weird for words.

Key looks totally stunning…when you can actually see his eyes and when he’s not wearing, like, my grandmother’s pink shawl. But most of the time it’s this:

SHINee Sherlock Key hair

Hair in the eyes: a fangirl’s nightmare.

Other than Jonghyun, Minho is the only one who really looked into the camera for any length of time (while simultaneously not having his hair falling in his eyes). But even he seems capable of only one expression here, looking strangely pained or angry in his close-ups.

SHINee Sherlock Minho

Why so accusatory, Minho?

Which member stood out the most?
Although for me personally, it was and will always be Taemin, I think in general either Jonghyun or Minho stood out the most, mainly because they seemed to have the most closeups.

SHINee Sherlock Jonghyun


Do you like it enough to buy the song?
Yes, I do. Good Lord, I certainly complained a lot earlier about a song I know I’m dishing out money on pretty much no matter what because it reminds me of “Juliette.” Seriously, I’ve been listening to “Juliette” about twice a day for about two years now and am still not sick of it. I’m hoping the lovely, lovely chorus of “Sherlock” will be good enough to stand the test of time also and to overcome the slow start to the song.

SHINee Sherlock detectives promotional picture teaser photo

Onew, Taemin, Jonghyun, Minho, and Key.

Any ending thoughts?
This MV has been very strange for me as a huge fan of both BBC’s Sherlock production and SHINee’s new album. (But seriously, if you haven’t seen Sherlock, please do. It’s quite short! And then come back and discuss it with me!) Here, have a picture:

BBC Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch Martin Freeman

Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (John Watson).

Anyway, mostly I’ve been scarfing down popcorn while laughing hysterically due to the wank because both fandoms were fighting over the #sherlock tag on tumblr. :)

Also: why is there an ad embedded on the official release of the music video? I’m willing to put up with a lot from SM, but really? It’s for reasons like this that I’ve started automatically replacing SM with sadomasochism in my head whenever I read it.

Boyfriend’s one-liner:
[After getting our obligatory “No, Taemin is not a woman” discussion out of the way.] “How do you have a video called ‘Sherlock’ without some homoerotic tension with Watson?” Which of course makes me wonder if I can argue for Key/laptop iWatson homoerotic tension? Probably a stretch.

SHINee Sherlock iwatson laptop

Elementary, my dear iWatson.

Thanks for reading! Please share your comments below! :)


  1. Sorry, I REALLY don't like this concept/song. I felt uncomfortable and creeped out by the concept pics, and the song/dance moves were awful - especially the costumes/styling. I'll be listening to Ring Ding Dong instead. :(

  2. You know, you're not the first person who's said that they were creeped out by the concept pics. I'm a pervert and will take whatever I can get as long as they're all over-age, but I completely understand being kind of squicked by that sort of thing. It...doesn't really match their cutesy-boy image, though, but it doesn't completely match their manly one, either, so I don't really know what the managers were thinking.

    I didn't like some of the costumes (namely Key's star shorts), but I liked the Victorian-era stuff fine.

    Thanks for your comment! Enjoy "Ring Ding Dong," lol! I adore that song.

  3. Well, apart from "Lucifer" (Korean one, NOT Japanese! Jpn was terrible to listen lol), "Ring, Ding, Dong" and SHNee's version of "Step" by KARA (not actual, just someone made it on YouTube and I liked it better ther original XD) I didn't hear any other songs by them coz they sounded a bit weird to me. ;)

    So when I heard of their comeback I didn't jump all over my room, but when I heard the name "Sherlock" I was behaving like a crazy fangirl! LOL
    And I was expecting smth like BBC's Sherlock-like MV coz I'm really, really, really in love with that adaptation! It's just soooo perfect and Benedict aka Sherlock is exactly how I portrated my dear Holmes while reading the book! ^_^

    Then seing all the hippy-like half naked consept photoes freaked me out! Especially Taemin's hair!!! Why making him SO girl-alike??? His quite long hair in "Lusifer" was very nice but this...O_o... imho

    At the end the MV appeared to be pretty lame for me, though the dance was perfect exept those "huge, loping, strutting steps forward" and the fact that those hippy-like clothing and dance moves definitely are NOT what can be related to Sherlock Holmes. ;)
    But Victorian clothes were very nice indeed.

    I cannot say I liked the song but I didn't dislike it either... idk... but it's good for dancing! ;)

    TY for your revew. ^_^

  4. Oh! I new review! And I missed it. I poked fun of the Sherlockian SHINee and especially concept photos (*joins the choir of "yickes!"*) but I think the choreo is genius. Have you seen it? It's on SME's Youtube channel. And the song itself has grown on me a lot since I first heard it.

  5. I like the choreography and think it's pretty technically impressive, but I don't know, I guess I just wanted something different, maybe something that fit the song better. But as for the song, the more I listen to it, the more I'm really enjoying it. That seems a trait of most of SHINee's songs! :D

  6. OMG, you're a BBC Sherlock fan!?!?! *fangirly squee* I am soooo into that whole fandom right now. 

    Benedict aka Sherlock is exactly how I portrated my dear Holmes while reading the book!

     Yes yes yes, me too!!! I've been reading more of the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories and everything. I feel so strange, because we had to read some of those for class and now I'm reading them for pure pleasure. Yay! Glad to meet a fellow fan. :DDD

    I don't know what is up with those ads on SM's site. They drive me absolutely nuts.

  7. Really?!?! i loved what they were wearing bcuz its so different and weird.
    No need to hate just bcuz u cant dance like that!
    and there is nothing wrong with the concept its not creepy you obviously never watch insidious if you think that is creepy or you  just like to hate if anything ring ding dong i more creepy
    they still look hot but it defently more creepy then this!!!!!!

  8. It's the over-the-top shirtless pics the original commenter is objecting to as creepy, not the concept. "Ring Ding Dong" is artistic and pretty, whereas the concept pictures for "Sherlock" feel more like straight-up porn, which can be uncomfortable to see your favorite idols in.

  9. I loved this song and album to pieces, but I did feel a bit of concern when I found out Sherlock was going to be a mashup of two other songs from the album. So, I was more impressed by how it kinda fit than disappointed by how it was a little off. Then I bought the album and realized that counting the mashup, the two songs its made from, and all the Japanese songs they translated into Korean there are only four new songs, and I spent a few days hating SMent from the bottom of my heart for skimping on the SHINee. And I was excited to hear more of Taemin singing.

  10. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed when I first saw/heard this song (I mean, damn, that rant...), but the more I heard this song, the more I like it. I wish there were more new content, though. :(


  12. I don't understand all the hate on the video, other than both Lucifers and Hello, this is the best song yet, I love the Give It Up For SHINee!~ at the end, gives it a strong sense. And that beat, jesus that beat is mega awesome. I have this song full blast everyday! The dance was amazing (currently learning) and the whole video was astounding. I don't understand the hate! 

  13. I really love this MV. At first, I thought that Taemin was a girl. Sorry, I'm just knew to kpop songs. I watched the video many times. Never, ever getting tired of it. They are so hot! I'm falling in love with them.      

  14. You know, this song has reeeeally grown on me the more I listen to it, to the point where now I think it's one of my favorites of the year. The MV, though, I still don't enjoy very much (except that the guys are hot, lol).

  15. Haha, my boyfriend also thought Taemin was a girl. He's just so pretty!

  16. I think that Sherlock is actually their best song, the transition to the chorus is flawless, the arrangements are just perfect and the chorus is simply amazing. The dance is their best dance and for me one of the best dances in kpop. Now I’m not saying this just because I’m biased or something like that. My sister is an opera singer and a ballet dancer and I asked her opinion about the song and the dance and she told me that the song is definitely amazing, she especially liked the transition to the chorus because is not rushed like the majority of kpop or commercial songs, the voices are great (except for Minho) and the dance is brilliant, she especially liked that they included a lot of detective signs on it (all of the moves had some meaning) and that it was so perfectly executed. For me the video is obviously a fail and the lyrics aren’t deep or great as the majority of kpop, but the dance and the song are just awesome.

  17. Oooh, high praise! Your sister sounds really talented! This song has really grown on me since I first heard it. I love pretty much all of SHINee's music video songs (except "Replay," still don't like that one), so it's impossible for me to pick a favorite, but I was definitely too harsh on this at first. Taking out my anger at SM on the boys would be something not to do. I still don't think the dance is the best thing ever in terms of my enjoyment of it ("Lucifer" still holds my heart there), but I definitely like the song a lot more than I did. Thanks for your comment! :)

  18. As a fellow watcher of BBC's Sherlock, I was completely prepared to be disappointed by the music video as soon as I saw heard the title of the song. I'd hoped to be incorrect but...yeah. >.<
    The first time, I didn't notice many of the details you pointed out but I have to agree fully. So I pretty much just watch the dance version now, if at all. And yeah, seriously, what's up with the random pop-up ad in the middle of an official video??? 
    But I do appreciate Shinee's dances, as always. Love their synchronization at the very least. 
    Taemin <3   <==== random bursts of maknae love?

    So that's that, and we shall wait (im)patiently for season 3 of Benedict's amazing acting to arrive because jaaawwwwwnnnnn~
    Ahem. Yes.

  19. Yeah, I definitely prefer the dance version. But the song has way grown on me to the point where it's one of my favorites. :)

    I'm so glad to meet another BBC Sherlock fan. I'm more than a bit obsessed, actually...BENEDICT OMG OMG, my favorite actor of ALL TIME, seriously. :D

  20. Christopher EspinoJune 10, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    I'm not sure if I missed this in your article, but there's a reason behind the "hippie" style that it was promoted as, and the duality in the music video between the 'refined' victorian look and the 'hippie'/'silly-dressed' look in the dance clips.
    This emphasises on things like: the fact that Sherlock Clue+Note is a hybrid of the songs "Clue" and "Note" in the mini-album release.
    ALSO, more importantly, this duality is reflected in the hippie/bohemian/gypsy-like style of Sherlock Holmes (which he was described as one I am lead to believe), which mixes against the refined look of his detective partner Watson.

    I admit, there's cheesy/corny stuff in the video (especially the promo, put a damn shirt on! haha. You can look hippie with a shirt on), but taking a step back, it was marketed well and the overall concept is actually pretty damn clever.

    And the music - you mention Juliette (which I do love!) and compared it to Sherlock, I see some similarities and I agree. But when I analysed the musical elements of Sherlock, I believe the song is a pretty awesome piece of music! The verses are full of a cool, syncopated electro-dance rhythm, and the chorus has the harmonic progression of a classical choir with big-band like instrumentals. The structure of the song and changing styles even within verses keeps the song really catchy (I play the song like, every day lol).

    I really like the choreography actually, better than juliette, I like it as much as "Love Like Oxygen" dance choreography, though that's a different style that's more funky. I think the choreo matches the Sherlock song perfectly, most of the moves I don't think are cheesy or corny, and certainly a bit different from the average song-and-dance. There's hip-hop moves in the hip-hop sections of the song and big, sweeping movements during the chorus which matches the theme of whats musically in the chorus.

    Overall, I love the song (the MAIN reason why I like it), I only really watch the dance version of the MV but I have seen the full version. My favourite from SHINee other than Love Like Oxygen and Dream Girls.

    If you read this far, thanks for reading! and kudos to posting about SHINee!