Song Review: SHINee – Hard

Thanks to the group’s exquisite vocal harmonies and the song’s infectious energy, SHINee’s The Feeling has developed into a highlight of the early summer. I’m really grateful that it exists, and in the joyful (deluded?) parallel universe I’ve created around SHINee’s latest album, I’ll be presenting it as the official title track. Unfortunately, the album’s actual title tune falls victim to many of the SMent song clichés I detest the most.

My standards for SHINee are really high, and I work the hardest on the things I love the most. But hey, they caused it themselves! They’ve put out far too many classic tunes in the past.

Hard attempts are made to turn that legendary reputation into a haughty hip-hop dance battle, spurred by the group’s signature odd production embellishments. However, the song itself comes out as tepid and monotonous. This method feels beneath a group of SHINee’s level since there is too much saying and not enough showing. They don’t necessarily need to demonstrate their “hardness.” To do so feels almost stupid.

I enjoy some of the song’s strange instrumental sections. The piano adds a lovely touch, and Hard shines anytime it transitions into a 90s hip-hop sound from the past. But I detest the chorus. A pattern we’ve seen many times before is followed by the spoken-word hook. It compromises SHINee’s greatest strength, their incredible voices, and is bland and apparent. The K-pop sector is one of already stuffed with groups who chant and swagger. Do we really need SHINee doing this, too?

The song sounds like the softer gentler version of “Sticker”. Still all off-kilter and quirky and packed with novel custom-made samples, but using a more sonorous grab bag of sounds, piano line being the most prominent.
As a Sticker person, I think it is =fine=. Not quite full SHINee, but I’ll take it anyway.

I think “Sticker” is better than “Hard”, tbh!
I just loved Doyoung, Haechan, Taeil getting into their vocal fry. and I think “Sticker” is more concise on first appearance.
A lot of the production ideas on “Hard” feel much more grab bag.

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