Slightly more than a year after their comeback with their tenth studio album, The Return, Korea’s longest running idol group Shinhwa continues their legend with their latest release, THE CLASSIC.
In the lead up to the album release, Shinhwa’s leader Eric was already saying the songs in this album are all so good that one would want to listen to them again and again. Having been given such high expectations, I made some room for a little disappointment. As it turned out, that was not needed at all.
I can loop the album in its sequence in my player, and have no desire to skip over any track.
There’s nothing not to like about the individual songs. There’s also a good mixture of up-tempo and easy listening songs in the album which maintains a comfortable pacing on the whole. With their talent and experience, it’s almost a given that their vocal delivery do not disappoint. They certainly did not. In fact, I got goosebumps on a few occasions during the first few listens of the album because the singing or rapping made me go: “Wow, that’s really good!”
Although the songs are all good, there are a few songs that I do like better: “아는 남자”, “This Love”, “New Me”, “웃다가…” and “Mannequin”.
One of the slower tracks on the album, “아는 남자” has a really nice, smooth groove to it. The music arrangement is simple with just a consistent, uncomplicated drum beat and keyboard playing the chord accompaniment, which allows the vocals of Shinhwa to shine through.
Between “This Love” and “Scarface” which were in the running for the title track, I think Shinhwa made the right choice to go with “This Love”. This song is simply addictive, yet melodically interesting. It also has a great choreography to go with it, but more about that later.
Simply, “New Me” is a mid-tempo pop song with a good hook.
“웃다가…” is one of the tracks where I thought Shinhwa brought out the emotions of the song superbly – with the ad libs and the way their vocals layer over one another’s.
Maybe it’s the saxophone and the trumpet which feature very prominently in the music arrangement, but “Mannequin” has a bit of a jazzy feel to it. It’s upbeat and makes you want to move to the music – in the same vein as how Jason Mraz’s “Butterfly” makes one groove to it.
There aren’t many albums that make me do this but after every listen of THE CLASSIC, I just want to go back to the first track and listen to the album all over again.
I won’t go so far to say this album’s a classic but this is certainly Shinhwa’s best album yet. How will they surpass this with their 12th album?
A little sidetrack to talk about the performance of their title track.
Shinhwa’s desire to stay on top of the game is shown in the performance of “This Love”, where they did vouging – a dance stylised by the incorporation of model-like poses – which apparently no Korean group has ever attempted before. The choreography is nothing but awesome, with detailed attention paid to the synchronisation of the movements with the music. And every set of movements is like turning to a new page in a magazine – it’s (almost) never the same.
Watch the music video to see what I mean. In fact, until a dance version of the music video is out, watch some live performances (here’s one) to get a better picture of the choreography.
01 – 그래 (translated: That’s Right; romanised: Geurae)
02 – 아는 남자 (translated: The Guy That I Know; romanised: Aneun Namja)
03 – This Love
04 – Scarface
05 – New Me
06 – 웃다가… (translated: Smiling…; romanised: Utdaga…)
07 – Mannequin
08 – Hurricane
09 – I Gave You
10 – 사랑 노래 (translated: Love Song; romanised: Sarang Norae)