Friday, June 15th, 2018

SHINee – Good Evening

A well-received comeback.


Joshua Minsoo Kim: “Good Evening” is to “View” what “Shinin'” was to “She Is”: a solid but familiar retread of sorts that isn’t terribly exciting. Even so, it seems like the wisest decision SM could’ve made. For one, hearing this gives you a sense that the members are successfully powering through whilst recalling the times they’ve had with Jonghyun. It’s appropriate, especially since this coincides with the group’s 10th anniversary. More importantly, it makes it fairly easy to imagine where Jonghyun’s voice could’ve been inserted, granting the song a more pronounced wistfulness. Ironically, the element that’s most crucial to the song’s success is one that is identifiably not K-pop: an interpolation of 112’s “Cupid.” It’s nostalgic and intimate; a heavenly melody that immediately flashes Jonghyun’s face before my eyes. As I hear SHINee declaring that they’re going–running–to him, I become overwhelmed by the song’s English title. It’s not a final “Good Night” or “Good Bye,” but a cordial reunion: “Good Evening.” I sense him in the pre-chorus and the garage house beat that follows. He seems happy–his face glowing as in the video for “Shinin'”–joyful to be freed from the pain he endured for so long. For a few seconds, the song acts as a celestial oasis, one that allows the band members and fans to grieve and find comfort. One where we can tell Jonghyun that it was not his fault, and never will be. Where we can tell him that he did go through a lot, that he did work hard. Where we can tell him that he did well. Where we can tell him that he did a good job. 종현 형 수고했어요.

Alfred Soto: At once wistful and fingerpoppin’, “Good Evening” relies on the glide of those vocals, which have the tug of classic New Edition or N Sync at their infrequent best.

Jessica Doyle: It feels a bit limp, a bit familiar; but really, did we actually want something banging and explosive? Perhaps they threaded the microscopic eye of the needle as well as they could. I don’t know; I’m angry. I know: if depression is an illness, a still-poorly-understood pattern of misfiring synapses, than it is no more just or rational for me to be angry at Jonghyun than it would be for me to be angry at my mother for dying of cancer. But I was angry at my mother; justice and rationality were beside the point. (Also unjust: that no one could possibly be angrier at Jonghyun than he was at himself; an anger so persistent it swallowed him whole; that was the problem.) Meanwhile Onew and Taemin and Minho and Key, who have the right to anger if anyone does, are not performing anger–grief, yes, and resolution, and love, but not anger, not in this song. So anger is inappropriate. Yes? But oh how much this sounds like “View” and even “1 of 1,” how much it feels like a point on a line that stretches a long way back and thus includes “Lucifer,” a good portion of whose brilliance came from Onew and Jonghyun trading off. And so I hear Onew singing here, especially in the first chorus, and some small part of me still thinks Jonghyun is coming next no matter how many times I hear Key’s part. Not Key’s fault; not even Jonghyun’s fault; the whole concept of fault does nobody any good here. To say “It should not be like this” does nobody any good. But…

Anna Suiter: The idea of a comeback in K-pop, to many people who aren’t familiar with it, seems a little diluted. Sometimes people ask, “Why it’s called a comeback if it’s only been 3 or 4 months?” In SHINee’s case, it’s been about a year and a half since their last group promotion in Korea — but it isn’t the length of time between promotions that makes it seem like a comeback. It’s that they’re coming back as four, not five. It’s that even if the song is well produced and sounds complete, you still can’t help but try to fit a fifth voice in. But Jonghyun’s voice will never be in a new SHINee song, and it feels strange to admit that SHINee can exist as a group that makes really good music without him. SHINee have always held a peculiar spot in my heart of nostalgia, long before Jonghyun’s death. That nostalgia probably colors parts of this song for me, and maybe it’s part of why it’s viscerally upsetting to engage with too closely. Some of the visuals in the video and choreography suggest moving forward, but some of the lyrics suggest something different. The ending verse in particular speaks to desperately reaching for someone far from you, and while maybe that isn’t looking back, it isn’t moving forward, either. But sometimes, that’s okay.

Anjy Ou: The thing about this song that makes me emotional is the urgency of the whole thing. You can imagine someone getting off a plane, or finally getting off work, at first walking quickly, but then skipping, running, leaping, anything to close the distance between them and their person as fast as possible. The song is that taut string pulling two people together. It’s a song about missing someone so much it hurts, but also celebrating the connection you have with them – all that joy and pain and longing mixed together. I don’t think it’s “about” Jonghyun, but I do think his passing casts a particular light on it that maybe wouldn’t be there if he was singing it with them. Anyway, it makes me happy and teary and also makes me dance, so obviously, I love it.

Ryo Miyauchi: Though this group can bring maximalist charge if they want to, what impresses once again about this round of SHINee is their effortless grace. While the verses hint at a spark more intensely magnetic, the ebullient garage-house production and that comedown of a chorus soften their emotion into something much more delicate. It’s not a dressing down of what’s at stake, but rather a proof to how they finely perform desire: sensual but not desperate, sensitive but not vulnerable.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: It’s such a bittersweet sensation to have the great SHINee return. On one hand, we just lost Jonghyun last December, and we’re still processing the idea of the group without him; on the other hand, SHINee are still the true masters, a band comprised of some of the most talented singers, songwriters, and performers in South Korean pop history, and there’s a seal of quality in every release. “Good Evening” is an impressive return to form, reaching back to the deep house-oriented sound of previous smash “View”, but with a more reflective approach. The production, from the melodic refrain to the vocal layering, is simply gorgeous, highlighting the strengths of a group that is all about power and complexity.

Reader average: [7] (13 votes)

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