Friday, December 14th, 2018

Pentagon – Shine

And this lot lost a member last month, but they got reviewed by us this month, so they’ve come out ahead.


Joshua Minsoo Kim: Much like offerings from Block B and iKON, Pentagon’s “Shine” feels like K-pop’s attempt at approximating 2000s pop rock. Like those songs, the instrumentation here feels deliberately chosen to best portray its narrative. The clinking piano and light/heavy dynamic at play is at once cartoonish and true to life: a K-drama in miniature. The guys sing with a nervousness about approaching a girl, and it manifests in the form of cleared throats, pounding drums, and dramatic vocalizing. Kino and Yeo One’s singing in the second pre-chorus illuminates the tenderness of their statements, and hearing them call themselves losers reads as self-deprecating defense mechanism. In other words, their only expectant result is of failure, so they’ll speak lowly of themselves to mitigate any disastrous effects. But like many who engage in such behavior, there’s an oscillation between depressive pessimism and hopeful positivity, and it’s beautifully depicted in the chorus. The latter ultimately triumphs, and the bridge becomes a moment of self-reflection and confidence building. As it builds, the anxiety-filled boom of the pre-chorus’s drums are replaced with something far more levelheaded. The final chorus thus feels like a reset of the previous ones; it may not be that different, but it feels like they’re more confident than ever when singing, “I’m only yours.” And with the final line, they refuse to call themselves losers once more, instead proclaiming that they’ll shine.

Maxwell Cavaseno: Deliberately pathetic, with the intent of finding charm in its enfeebled clumsiness and heartsick puppy dog love, “Shine” is just maybe a little too dedicated to its sweet spots to stick a landing. Yes, the trap drums feeling more or less like a mechanical toy box and hearing the boys in Pentagon constantly shift into infantile stress is well-thought, but for the most part all the playfulness reads a little too hollow. It’s a good step in the direction of good corny boyband songs done in the last year or so by the likes of Block B and iKon, but in Pentagon’s case it doesn’t feel as if they can execute it just as well.

Jessica Doyle: At this point I’ve all but given up on trying to trace direct lines between song releases, profits, and subsequent corporate decisions, given that so many measures of artist popularity — album purchases, music-show wins, YouTube views — can and will be gamed. So there’s no point in trying to assert that if “Shine” hadn’t been released when it did, Hyojong (I think Cube kept “E’Dawn” in the divorce; whatever, I’m just so glad Hyuna was able to keep her dancing team) would have less leverage now to work on mixtapes on his own. (Although if “Shine” hadn’t been released when it was, we might never have gotten to hear it; and you have to wonder how many songs Hyojong might have written or co-written that Cube might now be sitting on.) Independent of the drama that followed it, “Shine” is just a lovely mix of piano and exuberance, a joyful exclamation of “I’m a loser who loves you” with no dissonance. In the context… it’s too soon to say. Years from now we might point to “Shine” as proof that Korean idol pop can only allow creativity within certain carefully prescribed customary relationships between labor and management, and if you want to listen to lovely songs you’ll have to accept the restrictions placed on the people making them. Or we might get to say that “Shine” was the beginning of the end for the exclusive funneling of idol pop through the centralized management company/music-show/Loen distribution lock. Is it foolish to hope for the latter? Probably. But being a fool can be fun.

Alfred Soto: That thrusting house keyboard does the work of ten men, but Pentagon do their work.

Iain Mew: A Saturday morning “Diamonds and Guns” lope of a piano beat and a self-effacing lyric is good material to work with, but not that good when the rest of the song is going through such familiar motions. It’s a credit to Pentagon, then, that they still get so much charm out of it.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: We can talk about the mid-range harmonies, the sparse, chill vibe, or even E’Dawn’s triplets in that rapped bridge, but let’s face it, this track’s entire appeal rests on the piano riff. It turns something so middling in quality into a catchy tune and allows for many kinds of flow. Sometimes Pentagon themselves sound like they’re trying a bit too hard, but the result is generally pleasant. 

Reader average: [6.16] (6 votes)

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4 Responses to “Pentagon – Shine”

  1. this is a [9], i say!

    An interesting thing to me about “Shine” is that the Japanese version alters this song quite a bit. For one, E’dawn’s fantastic “ummm” doesn’t read as a hook or a tic of nervousness as a matter of fact, because in the context of it as a Japanese dialog, it would instead have to be changed to “etto…” And that would holds less physical quality as expressed as what E’dawn achieves with “ummm.” (Though, is it the same in Korean? I’m just following the subtitles here.) What’s hilarious is how they keep “it’s Yuto” with him announcing his rap section with “Yuto da!” and it’s kinda awkward in a funny way.

    But a big curiosity in the Japanese version is them going away with “I’m a loser in love,” a detail that not at all appears in the Japanese version. It’s a pretty surface comparison to the, as Joshua said, the the defeatist, depressive pessimism and the self-deprecating mechanism that really writes the personality in the original. I think the reframed chorus in the JP ver. is still charming, turning the jijiri into onomatopoeia of a heart being shock by electricity. Though the sincerity kinda gets in the way if you’re looking for that aforementioned self-deprecation and such to translate too.

    And man, does this thing sound cheesy in Japanese! But I feel like corniness is kind of a given for Japanese Kpop singles.

  2. Given that image, I’m a little disappointed that the subhead wasn’t “Come on, baby, America”

  3. shine was released before u.s.a actually! and the shoot dance, of course, precedes both ;)

  4. The corny japanese versions are hilarious sometimes though. Take Oh My Girl’s Banana Allergy Monkey – the original version is about a monkey that’s allergic to bananas and can only enjoy artificial banana flavored milk but the japanese version flips it on it’s head and becomes a plug for the Japan Banana Importers Association that encourages delicious banana smoothies for all! It’s so amusing and I love it

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