Monday, October 12, 2009

SHINee's Vocal Prowess

There's more to SHINee than a bunch of young guys thrown together and told to open their mouths to sing. Believe me, these guys are very, very good.
SHINee are SM's young boyband (although the oldest member is just two years younger than Changmin DBSK if you put things into perspective) but nothing about their abilities even hints that they're inexperienced or without talent. These guys can sing, and they can do it extremely well - I'd say they're a slightly younger version of DBSK by vocal ability, not quality.

They're different from DBSK vocally - DBSK has Jaejoong who can sing anything, Junsu who's good at what he does and Changmin who takes care of screaming. SHINee has different voices but they mesh together really well. Individually they sound good but together it's like there's something else - isn't that the whole point of a vocal group?

If I were to describe SHINee's vocals in one word I'd say it has dimension. They don't all have predominantly smooth, strong or excessive voices or even beautiful timbres but each voice gives the group another dimension. Because they have different qualities to their voices the end product is multi-dimensional and you have to really think to properly understand what the crap they're doing.

Their vocals are the main reason why I faint when they sing all those R&B ballads and why my mind explodes when they sing all these uptempos. To prepare you guys for what's to come, here are four examples - two ballads (live and recorded) and two uptempos (live and recorded) just so you know how good these guys actually are.

The ballad
Love's Way (2008)

The uptempo
Juliette (2009)

It was especially difficult to chose who was better than who because they all have their strengths so this list isn't ordered and my favorite voice is purely a personal opinion - they're all good and I all like them but I chose the one with qualities I liked. Shall we begin?

I have one complaint about Minho - the guy doesn't get enough singing parts. No seriously, before I started writing this commentary I thought Taemin was the marginalized one 'coz he only gets 3 - 4 lines on a song but apparently it's this guy! Yes, he's the resident rapper but to my utter surprise, HE CAN SING. The first time I heard his singing voice I immediately thought he sounded like someone but couldn't really wrap my head around who exactly. Then it hit me - he's like a fuller, less airy and smoother version of Kim Joon. I didn't expect him to have technique but he does and he delivers that deep voice of his very well! I now conclude that Minho is the most marginalized member of SHINee vocally - he deserves a little more attention for his singing.

Here's a fanmade collection of all his solo parts on the group's most recent release - forward to 0:11 for him singing.

I admit that before I started writing this I was a little biased with Jonghyun's voice - I thought it was excessive and airy.

There are times when his voice will just blow you away but sometimes I find his voice to be a little too much. He can do R&B ballads but the first thing that comes into my mind when I hear his vocals is that he sounds like a guy version of one of those excessive ballad singers here in the Philippines. However he has a nice range and the timbre of his voice can be both a blessing and a curse. The start of Love Like Oxygen, I understand it has to be powerful but why can Onew sing it smoothly and Jonghyun can't? If you compare him to Key, I do think that Key has the deeper voice with a deeper timbre and Jonghyun has the tendency to be a little on the nasal side. However he gives the band another dimension and for that the guy deserves the praise he gets.

I think I'm ready to faint now.

This guy is the big, extremely high ballad singer in the band - he can hit the high notes comfortably with little difference from the middle range when it comes to the the intensity of his voice. I know Jonghyun can do the same but I find Key's voice smoother with a nicer timbre and more fit for ballads like Romantic or their cover of DBSK's '믿어요'. Key is the guy with the insanely gorgeous timbre in SHINee - yes, his voice is smooth and he has a pretty wide range but the predominant quality to his voice is the timbre. It's that timbre that makes SHINee so good at ballads and it's that timbre that really contrasts Taemin's thinner voice and Onew's slick, smooth one. Jonghyun's good, yes but I do think Key's master of the ballads.

His voice in one word? Rich.

Taemin, dubbed the dancer in the band and confirmed by a friend of mine who knows how to spot a good dancer (she says but since I obviously know nothing about dancing, let's just say she's right.), is surprisingly very good in the vocal department and when I say very good I mean VERY GOOD. Taemin is the guy with the insanely smooth voice in the band but he's not like Jaejoong DBSK who can sing everything you throw at him (At least I don't think he is. He doesn't get a lot of solos either.). He's a year older than me and for effin' crap's sake the guy has one of the smoothest voices in pop. There are times when it can be weak but most of the time he knows how, how much and when to push his voice - the end product is stunning.

Below is A.MI.GO, the single that made me fall at his feet because of his vocals. Solos are at 0:59 - 1:06 and 2:21 - 2:29.

The perfect voice for SHINee songs - Onew deserves to be the leader because he pretty much embodies the group's musical style. It's very smooth but the quality that stands out is how he can have both smoothness and power in both ballads and uptempos. What makes him even more brilliant in my books is the fact that he can take the flow-y-ness he has with R&B ballads and put it into the uptempos - he doesn't sound odd like he's a ballad singer trying to do uptempos. I think slick is the right word for his voice. He's like the polar opposite of Jonghyun - when he pushes he doesn't overdo it. Love Like Oxygen shows the extent of their difference - Jonghyun takes the first part of the first verse and Onew comes right after him. My one and only problem with him is that he keeps on singing these ballads that should be for Key or Jonghyun - he does them great and all but SM has to give the guy a bunch of uptempos or midtempos because he can actually do a damn good job with them.

Solos are at 0:30 - 0:34, 1:09 - 1:14, 2:12 - 2:16 and adlibs from 2:58 - 3:05

Agree? Disagree? Like the previous commentaries, keep the comments coming people! I like to know that you guys are actually thinking about my commentary.

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