Tuesday, December 28, 2010

#2: SHINee - Lucifer

Several people have guessed that this would be my #1 song, but I'm afraid it isn't - keep guessing! Although that most definitely does not mean that it's not any good. It's more than good actually, it's fantastic.

When I first got into kpop last year, I was concentrated on learning the history and grasping the sound throughout the years. This year, because I had already practically mastered the history and was writing about what would become history, I was concentrating on looking at current k-pop, sound-wise. And the result of that? My current opinion on Lucifer.

I and a whole swarm of bloggers adore the song to bits, obviously, and practically the entire blogosphere, fans included, went wild with the release of this. When I brought out my review I was focused on the song itself, and there's obviously nothing wrong with that, because all anyone had at that point was the song. The technicalities of the song were spot-on - the production brilliant, the arrangement very tight and the delivery fantastic.

Question my taste level all you want, I still think that Lucifer is one of the, if not the, most solid and representative pop songs South Korea has brought out this year. Lucifer is another one of those "this is where kpop is" songs, but unlike the others that I just accept, I adore Lucifer. In a sense, it's because of songs like this that I'm still writing about kpop.

Lucifer is a feast to the ears and an absolute pleasure to listen to, whether recorded or live, and you don't have to say that "oh, I like it better live" or "oh, the recording's a gazillion times better" because the song allows for both mediums to sound fantastic in their own ways.

Which brings me to a point that I heard my dad raise earlier this year - a recording is different from a live performance. OK, of course it is, but if you think about it, there are times when I, and a lot of other people, compare the two then deem one inferior. But you can't do that. OK, you can, but logically speaking you can't. You've all heard of hi-fi, right? High Fidelity, it means that you somewhat "strive" for what's called a "real" sound, a recording that's closest to the actual sound of instruments, whether they be voice, drums or whatever. I only found out what it really meant when my dad raised that point.

So everyone goes on and on and on about hi-fi, speakers are advertised with it and equipment guaranteed to provide hi-fi, but with all this recording technology nowadays, it's hard to differentiate real from not? The vocals, like any other pop song this year, have been put through processing - whether obvious or not. The instrumental is 75% computerized at the very least and all the instruments have also gone through computer processing. Can you call these real? WHAT IS REAL?

But anyway. In simpler terms, the point I'm trying to make is that critique-ing live performances and recordings can no longer go hand-in-hand - you cannot compare them anymore, because the recording studio and the performance studio are two different environments, and their technologies have gone in two different directions.

So what does this have to do with Lucifer? Well, it has proven that point. SHINee are fantastic live singers and performers - they know exactly how to sell a song, and they do it extremely well. Other bands of their stature are still struggling with vocals (ahem2PMahem), but these guys just sing like it's second nature, and it's supposed to be. But no matter how good they are live, the trends dictate that their vocals be processed, obvious or not. There is a difference between their live performances and their recordings. They sound good on both, of course, but good in different ways.

I do have one tiny little problem with the song though, that has ultimately prevented it from being fiercer competition with my top song of the year. I got a physical copy of the Korean release of Lucifer for Christmas a few days ago (along with Rising Sun! My cousin just came back from Korea), and I noticed something very interesting about it - I listened to the album on my dad's nice speakers and I noticed that Lucifer has no depth. I listened to Rising Sun (the single, let's be specific) before that, and I heard things I had never heard on the MP3s - the CD quality version of Lucifer was essentially the same sound, except for the fact that everything was crisper. It's not that big a problem if you look at it, but for me it makes all the difference - I value the little details in a song, it's what separates CD from digital for now, and what makes CD much more superior.

No comments:

Post a Comment