SHINee, who made their debut in the Japanese market in June this year, recently released their first full length Japanese album, The First.
Three versions of the album were released; the normal version, the first press limited edition, and the special box limited edition.
The album consists of 13 tracks and each edition comes with different extras such as a longer photobook or a playback music button.
Out of the 13 tracks, 7 tracks were originally Korean singles. These are Lucifer, Amigo, Juliette, Replay, Love Like Oxygen, Hello and The SHINee World. For me, it was definitely strange hearing the new Japanese version singles due to the language, unlike Replay and Lucifer which had been released earlier in the year as EPs. But they still follow the same melody as the original Korean versions, with the only differences being the occasional change in who sings which line.
The other 6 tracks on the album are original Japanese singles. These tracks are really catchy and I’ll be surprised if an original Japanese track isn’t used as the title track for the album.
Track number 4 on the album, Better, is the 1st original Japanese single on the album. This song has a very elegant piano intro which is soon accompanied by a heavy drum beat. The first part of the song reminds me of the start of Kim Hyun Joong’s Please; slow and mellow. The end of the chorus, which includes the hook, is definitely very catchy and the repeated “better” easily gets stuck in your head. This slow ballad has a lovely RnB twist to it and it is seems to be a new style for SHINee but it sounds lovely.
The second track, which is track number 5 on the album, is called To Your Heart. I have been listening to this track non-stop since the release. The beat is really catchy and short “to-to-to-todoke, to-to-to-to your heart” intro seriously sticks in your head after hearing it once or twice. The chorus is pretty catchy and lyrics in the song are also really cute and romantic. This is a great pick-me-up song.
Always Love is the 3rd original Japanese track on the album and it is track number 6. Just like Better, it has a heavy drum beat and a piano intro but it is a chord riff instead of a melody. So you can see that similar styles are being used in the album but the tracks don’t sound the same. This track isn’t as catchy as Better or To Your Heart but it is nice to listen to and you can hear the members 5 distinct voices really clearly as it isn’t packed with instruments and effects.
Start, track number 8 has a contrasting sound to Better and Always Love. The intro is unaccompanied by any drums but the drums don’t take long to enter and the song becomes so upbeat. Jonghyun’s “oh”s in the chorus are pretty catchy too. I can guarantee you that you will find yourself singing along :P
Seesaw is the 5th original Japanese track on the album. This is definitely a different style in all aspects to the other songs on the album, including the Japanese remakes. The melody isn’t something that’s easy to describe as it is full of different elements, so it’s something you can understand by listening. In my opinion, it did sound strange the first time I heard it as it wasn’t a style SHINee had tried out before but it did grow on me.
The final original Japanese track is the bonus track, Stranger. The intro has an anime style mood but then all the effects in the intro lift off and leave the beat before Key starts singing. It has a similar style to A-Cha by Super Junior but definitely more anime theme tune-like during the chorus. I can pick out a really RnB influenced beat, loads of different, what seem like, clipped samples that have been put together and a vocal melody line. It is a strange mix but somehow it seems to work.
This album has so many different styles featured in it, for both the old tracks and new tracks, ranging from ballad to dance pop. You can easily experience the diverse musical characters and hear all 5 members matured and improved voices. It is definitely an album I have been looking forward to and it hasn’t failed to impress. I would definitely recommend that you listen to it ^^