Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: SHINee–“Dream Girl”

Normal people sleepwalk. SHINee goes sleep-trampolining.

Did you like the song?
As Minho seems so fond of reminding fans (even though it should be self-evident), “SHINee’s back” with “Dream Girl,” a song that is musically reminiscent of SHINee’s “Juliette.”

The part that mainly reminded me so much of “Juliette” was the use of that delicious layering effect that SHINee demonstrates so well. At the end of “Juliette” (starting with when Jonghyun says, “Once again”), we get Jonghyun ad-libbing in the rafters, Minho rapping low, the “Juliette” chorus, the “da-da-da” section, and I think the other members get a few lines in there, too—all at or close to the same time. This effect creates the illusion that there are a lot more guys in SHINee than there actually are, and the harmony in their voices is totally gorgeous.

And that’s the part I love in “Dream Girl,” too, starting at the end of Minho’s rap, when I think everybody’s ad-libbing over the chorus. This kind of layering could have sounded too busy, but SHINee’s songwriters have a firm grip on just how many voices are enough without being overwhelming. I guess I just wanted more buildup to that cool ending, though.

All in all, I liked it, and it reminded me pleasantly of “Juliette,” but “Juliette” is better.

SHINee Dream Girl teaser photo
Onew, Taemin, Jonghyun, Minho, and Key.

What was your favorite part of the song?
I always like SHINee’s choruses and whenever Jonghyun gets a chance to show off his voice. So I enjoyed this buildup to the high note—which Taemin actually went for (ah, my bias). He’s really matured and improved a lot, so I liked that he got to show what he’s been working on.

Does the English make you want to rip your eardrums out?
There isn’t much English, but what’s there is good! “Dream girl” and “baby,” mainly. Minho’s rap had some English, and the pronunciation could be better, but it’s not bad.

SHINee Dream Girl Minho rap

Did you like the video?
This video is very curious. While there are some typical moments of SM dancing-in-a-box-stage (i.e. the black lacquer box with blue neon lights), the video has other promising creative moments to illustrate the concept of a dream girl without having a straightforward storyline. It reminds me of U-KISS’ “Doradora” in style (though maybe that’s because I just reviewed that); that dizzying motion that U-KISS used to create surrealistic optical illusions definitely works well for SHINee’s dreamscape.

I like the recurring motif of empty picture frames that lead to fantasy worlds and can allow for interesting effects like this one:

SHINee Dream Girl Onew portal
Onew demonstrates his Portal skills.

Or even more risqué ones like this:

SHINee Dream Girl fantasy girl
We call this the “Marilyn Monroe effect.”

SHINee Dream Girl Marilyn Monroe
Still all the rage 58 years later.

The boys also really look like they’re having fun on the trampoline (I remember they seemed to enjoy jumping on the trampoline for that cool special effects shot in the Korean version of “Lucifer”).

SHINee Dream Girl Jonghyun trampoline
Jonghyun on the trampoline.

The only thing I didn’t understand was the repeating use of pixelization. When I first watched this video, I was worried that there was something wrong with my monitor because there were random digital remnants all over the place. I shortly figured out that it was deliberate, I just...still have no idea why.

I mean, seriously—what the heck is this?

SHINee Dream Girl Jonghyun pixelation pixelization
That’s Jonghyun, though I’d be pretty surprised if you could tell!

And what have they done to Onew?

SHINee Dream Girl Onew pixels
It looks like he’s been covered in cobwebs and censored for some reason.

I still have no clue as to the purpose these out-of-place digital pixels serve. It doesn’t help with the dream motif because, well, SHINee aren’t robots, and digitization does not equal dreaming in my mind, anyway. Aaand now I’m wondering if androids dream of electric sheep. :)

Was there a storyline? If so, did it make sense?
Have you ever had a dream or a fantasy (or a daydream) where you’re with a wonderful person, but you can’t quite make out the details of their face? But it’s not creepy or scary or anything; you get a good feeling from them, and you may even think you love them in the dream. Like, instead of dreaming of a celebrity crush, you make up your own partner but haven’t fully filled in the details yet.

I think in those pleasant dreams, the faceless people are more like placeholders for people we may meet in the future, or perhaps our brain’s way of giving form to the abstract concept of love or sexual desire or just close friendship.

But I’d never really though about it until this music video, which does a lovely job of illustrating the concept without being (too) scary:

SHINee Dream Girl flower girl
A literal flower girl!

So every time a SHINee member falls asleep, he’s dreaming of this girl who is an amalgamation of all his fantasies, except he hasn’t quite filled in all the details yet.

SHINee Dream Girl Key in bed
Key, you might find it easier to sleep if you didn’t wear a full suit to bed.

I think that maybe all this fantasizing started after they took a trip to an art museum and saw a woman in painting that matched their ideal partner, but that’s all just speculation on my part. :)

SHINee Dream Girl Taemin Key painting
Taemin and Key visit a museum. SHINee seems to spend a lot of time in museums.

Was the dance cool and distinctive?
Distinctive? Yes. Cool? Maybe. But the thing is—this is SHINee, probably the best dance group out there, and they reeeeally don’t need props of any kind to pull of a distinctive dance. So in this case, there were some interesting tricks they did with the microphone stands, like this moment when Taemin balanced on it while spinning (oh, Taemin, can you be any more awesome?):

SHINee Dream Girl Taemin mic stand dance

But despite those little neat moments, I felt that the mic stands were distracting from SHINee’s dance prowess, and I would have preferred that they got a chance to show off their skills more instead of this choreographed playing with the props. So I was a bit disappointed. But hey, at least it’s creative.

SHINee Dream Girl mic stand dance
The mic stand dance.

If you want to check out the dance version, it’s here. The dance is much more interesting in this version than the regular music video version.

Do the members look good?
I’m just gonna throw this out there:

SHINee Taemin Dream Girl teaser photo
Taemin’s teaser photo = whoaaa.

I’m not a huge fan of the clothes in the music video. They look kind of cutesy and dorky but not in a SHINee-style way. It’s hard to explain because SHINee’s style keeps changing anyway. But at least everyone’s hair looks acceptable (though I miss Taemin’s extensions, sigh).

SHINee Dream Girl
Minho, Onew, Jonghyun, Taemin, and Key.

I prefer this more modernist style:

SHINee Dream Girl
Minho, Onew, Jonghyun, Taemin, and Key.

Which member stood out the most?
Taemin’s my bias, but in this instance, I think Jonghyun stood out most to me.

SHINee Dream Girl Jonghyun
Even when they digitally rearranged his clothing.

Do you like it enough to buy the song?
Yes. It’s not my favorite, but I’ve learned my lesson with “Sherlock” to never underestimate the catchy potential of SHINee’s songs.

Any ending thoughts?
Those stupid ads on SM Entertainment’s videos are a never-ending nightmare. And hard-embedded, too, so there’s no getting rid of them, and screencaps are impossible on those scenes....It just seems so...mercenary, so against the art of a music video to hard-code ads on there. I strongly disapprove, SM.

Fiancé’s one-liner:
“Can you count the number of triangles in that background neon triangle?” (Sorry, he’s a math major.)

SHINee Dream Girl triangle background
(I think it’s 27.)

Thanks for reading! Please share your comments below, and feel free to request a review if you would like! :)

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