Saturday, March 6th, 2021

SHINee – Don’t Call Me

But we were just about to press your number!


Dede Akolo: I have emerged from my depression solely to speak about how this song is changing my life. I love drama in K-pop. Many groups have a knack for the dramatic and we can probably thank SM Entertainment seniors TVXQ/DBSK/Tohoshinki for this. It must be said that the entire modus operandi of this current generation of male idols hinges on the success of SHINee. While this would have been swallowed by BoA if she accepted it, I love the fullness that this iteration of the song has with a group of talented vocalists. Thank God everyone in SHINee can sing. I feel like given to any other group with more members where more bits would have to be split, it would ruin the fullness that this song holds. I do think NCT-123ABC or whoever would have also eaten this song up, but feel it would still have faltered. If you’re not following me, read this article about why KARD, and other co-ed groups, take forever to release music. In reference to SHINee, I think they have been together for so long and have the advantage of being a smaller group (formerly five members, now four, R.I.P. Kim Jonghyun). In this smaller group, where they are so used to performing at an incredibly high level — look at their song “Everybody” — they can contribute fairly equally to this song. This doesn’t come to the detriment of their individuality, however. Taemin slides in with grace on his lines, Key’s English ones are fun and bratty in a good way, Minho… Minho is so hot *shakes head* and Onew sounds angelic. I have to stop typing at some point. I have nowhere to vent all my K-pop opinions except here. Please accept this.

Jessica Doyle: Reportedly “Don’t Call Me” was originally offered to BoA, and that chorus feels like a sibling to EXO’s “Overdose” and “Monster.” It doesn’t scream SHINee, which is actually its greatest strength — from NCT or EXO it would feel a bit rote, but from SHINee, who could have been shunted off into a power-ballad purgatory, it feels expansive. And since I once docked points for Key seeming tired and bored, it’s only fair that I add points for Key seeming to be having a grand old time.

Rachel Saywitz: It’s hard for me to tell whether the members of SHINee — back together as a foursome after two years since they released the beautifully elegiac “Good Evening” — actually believe their PR marketing “Don’t Call Me” as signifying a new era for the group, or if they know deep down that this must have been an NCT 127 reject. The moody, restless track is certainly a different step for the group more known for melodic hooks and riffs than chaotic, punchy instrumentals, and I might find it a welcoming change of pace for them if that concept hasn’t been recycled through SM boy groups for years. That said, SHINee have been around for so long that it’s impossible to erase their presence through music — they’ve been able to hone their craft for so long that even jerky choreography looks graceful, Key and Minho’s grating raps more familiar than awkward. There’s no denying it: “SHINee’s back,” and we should be all the more grateful for their continual dedication to performance. 

Anna Katrina Lockwood: SHINee’s back, and they’ve got a fourth-gen-sounding title track. Really, though, the dominant compositional attribute here is Kenzie’s distinctive detailing — often the case with SHINee, and SM Entertainment groups generally. Following Taemin’s dalliance with the NCT boys in their SuperM unit, their aim is transparent. Onew, Key, and Minho have returned from military service to a vastly different Kpop landscape, and their wish to demonstrate their contemporaneousness with their colleagues surely makes sense. And yeah, it’s proven here — however, among the tracks from their album, I would not choose “Don’t Call Me” as the single. It is, though, a good song — appealingly catchy, rather than vexingly so. There’s a well-placed piano break, and all the vocals are excellent, especially from Onew and Key. It is thrilling to see SHINee make such a change in their 13th year, and do it with their customary stylish excellence. However, this is just not a top-tier single within SHINee’s jewel box of a catalog. 

Alfred Soto: Lasciviousness without malice: SHINee’s métier for a decade. Voice to voice they maintain the pitch of desperation. The production hiccups work.

John Seroff: I’m not sure if it’s a question of my sample size or just some element of the band that doesn’t jibe with my aesthetic but I have yet to be wowed by SHINee. “Don’t Call Me,” a cranky and bombastic amalgam of K-Pop clichés and 90’s boy-band swagger, didn’t change that.

Juana Giaimo: When I listened to this for the first time two days ago I thought it was a [4]. My favorite SHINee songs are smooth, nothing like the dark trap of “Don’t Call Me”. But, after listening to the whole album, and especially after watching this interview, my feelings have changed. There, they say that they believe every track could be the title track (and indeed, they are all very straightforward songs), but that they chose “Don’t Call Me” because they wanted to make a performance with a lot of impact for their comeback. Even when it’s musically something many K-pop bands have tried, SHINee always has a delicacy that makes them unique. Here, they work really well in giving some airiness to a song that is so intense. In the pre-chorus, Onew’s warmer voice breaks with the hip-hop flow of the verses. And then, instead of the chorus (as could be expected), the introduction appears again as a kind of second pre-chorus, like a bomb ticking ready to explode. When they use the same trick again in the bridge, they add a piano solo that is playful but also quite unsettling. Even when I wish the chorus didn’t feel so fragmented, I still appreciate the song structure enough to forget about it and come back again to this song — and its amazing choreography.

Edward Okulicz: Initially coming across as too steely for its own good, in as much as SHINee are capable of carrying such a thing off, “Don’t Call Me” eventually melts through a series of increasingly clever change-ups. It’s all grey chrome and frowning faces, but I particularly love the piano that comes in over the last chorus, like a smile cracking gradually over the whole thing.

Reader average: [4.83] (6 votes)

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3 Responses to “SHINee – Don’t Call Me”

  1. @Anna I had the same feelings about “CØDE” (though I admit “Don’t Call Me” grew on me while I tried – unsuccessfully – to write a blurb for it)

  2. Same, Austin – I had a kind of negative first impression of “Don’t Call Me” actually, but I’ve come to think it’s quite good. Seems to be the dominant theme for a lot of folks?

    I’m almost comforted by the fact that I prefer the b-side – it’s extremely on-brand for SHINee to have at least one absolute banger of a b-side per release. And of course they’re promoting “CØDE” also, so I’ve really gotten everything I want out of this comeback :D

  3. They recently uploaded a video of how they recorded the vocals and they talked about singing in a funny way, which I think makes the song even better (and that piano solo has even more sense now)