SHINee Hard Single Review

SHINee Go Hard With Comeback Single

Grab your lightsticks Shawols, because SHINee is back! The legendary K-pop group has finally made their long awaited return with their eigth full-length album, HARD. The album marks the group’s first album release since their repackaged album Atlantis in 2021. Although the group has already released one of their new songs, “The Feeling” earlier this month, the album’s title song, “HARD” is where the group is really kicking off this album cycle.

Opening with an interesting and instantly attention-grabbing jazzy piano, the song quickly jumps into a mash-up of 90’s hip-hop and R&B, with touches of snappy drums. If there was only one thing SHINee could be described with, is unique. Their approach to music production has always been an interesting mix of multiple genres, and it’s done in an unexpected way, opening their catalogue for infinite replays. On “Hard,” however, the interesting and captivating track is mostly focused in the verses, and then we get to the chorus, while still fun, doesn’t have that “SHINee” touch. It goes for the ever popular anti-drop and the members opt for a speak-singing delivery, that while definitely catchy and solid for a dance break, it sounds similar to what a lot of other SM Entertainment artists have been doing recently. The guys nail the delivery, but it just sounds like this chorus could belong to any other group.

The similarities to other SM releases doesn’t stop with the chorus. Lyrically, the song is a classic hype and braggadocious affair. “Made it through the long nights / All those scars, still you shone so bright,” member Key declares in the first verse. The lyrics are fun and catchy for sure, I definitely caught myself singing along even during my first listen through, but again, there’s nothing particularly distinguishing this as a SHINee song. The lyrics make it sound like the group has something to prove, which by all means, SHINee has nothing to prove. With that said, the vocal performances from the members are as strong as ever, with a solid power note from Onew in the bridge adding a nice moment of release from the hip-hop track.

“HARD” is definitely a fun song and an enjoyable listen. I can just see the dance challenges and social media posts featuring the track now playing in my head. I just wish it had more of what has made SHINee such a standout group throughout the years. Other songs on the album, particularly the previously released “The Feeling,” has more of that vibe, but for some listeners, this song could be their first exposure to the group, and again, it sounds like a song that any number of other groups could have done. It has moments of those unexpected production choices, but opts for following trends rather than setting them. As Taemin states in the chorus, we definitely wanted this, but it still would be nice if the lead single from this album had a bit more uniqueness.

Featured Image: SM Entertainment


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