Ashley Kumar, New Delhi
SHINee’s KEY came back with his first mini-album, BAD LOVE, on 27th September 2021 after releasing his first full album, FACE, back in 2018. This is his first solo release after discharging from mandatory military service in 2020.
This time, the whole album is conceptualized through KEY’s style. It overturns all normalcy of typical album concepts and that is what makes this release especially eye-catching. It contains exceptional retro style, crazy sounds, alien mood, unique album versions, and a mind-blowing music video that portrays KEY’s creativity in immensely distinctive ways (trust me, it’s pure art).
“I was able to say what I wanted to do, what I wanted to create, and what my vision was.” – KEY
The album contains 6 tracks that get better and better with every listen. They contain KEY’s deep emotions and outstanding vocals. Every track on this album is a perfect puzzle piece that makes it complete. These songs are absolute no-skips and here’s why!
Serving as the title track, ‘BAD LOVE’ became a phenomenon. It’s like watching the future from the past, in other words, it’s retro-futuristic in nature. It is a retro disco-pop track that talks about, well, bad love and being trapped in a toxic relationship. The music video is based on old MTV music style, using 70s-80s props. The music contains a very crazy vibe which is a definite ear-catcher. All fashion and style have KEY’s influence and it shows through and through. He even shows a fresh side of his vocals in this track which makes it even more addictive to listen to, especially his special high note in the end. The dance choreography is also very unique and goes immensely well with the song.
This track is a pop-dance track with head-bopping beats throughout. This song is perfect for a long drive with your friends. It will definitely make you feel like clubbing. Its powerful vibe will energize you and keep your spirits high. You’ll find yourself singing “breathe in, breathe out” at least twice a day.
Hate That… (feat. Taeyeon)
Released as a pre-release single, ‘Hate That…’ became the collaboration dream come true between SHINee’s KEY and Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon. It is an R&B track composed by Stephen Puth, which talks about a break-up and them hating the fact that the significant other is happy without them. The music video is beautifully portrayed using space and water elements which makes it a very unique and aesthetic watch. KEY’s vocals blend perfectly with Taeyeon’s and both of them deliver a perfect harmony.
‘Helium (헬륨)’ serves as KEY’s signature English track in ‘BAD LOVE’ after ‘Imagine’ in ‘FACE’. This is a space-retro track that gives justice to the futuristic-space concept of the whole album. It has a very sexy vibe to it and KEY makes it even more irresistible. You’ll find yourself making your own dance moves and going along with KEY’s adlibs throughout the song.
KEY wrote these lyrics while wondering about a break-up during the pandemic. It is a funky-synth pop song giving retro vibes all over. The lyrics are sad which talk about missing small, obvious things which were taken for granted before the pandemic, but the song is really fun to listen to. Definitely the perfect track for a Saturday Night.
Eighteen (End of My World)
“It’s okay if the world ends because I already enjoyed it with you.”- KEY
The album ends with ‘Eighteen (End of My World)’ which is a song written by KEY to his 18-year-old self. He gives strength to his younger self and tells him that it’s okay to fail sometimes, but never to get discouraged by that. All anxieties, doubts, and apprehensions he had that time, now he can let go of all that. This track is full of emotion that makes the listener think back to their youth. I would recommend this song when you’re feeling down. The music is calming, yet powerful. This track will definitely give you strength.
“Fly more while dreaming, my eighteen.” – My Eighteen (End of My World)
KEY earned a new nickname with this release which is “Retro King”, and rightfully so. This album took 14 years to prepare according to KEY and the efforts can be seen crystal clear. The vibe that KEY was aiming for, was definitely achieved. He has set the bar high for future retro concept albums to come, all thanks to his unbelievable creativity and intellect. Do give this album a listen and tell me about your views and favorite tracks in the comments below!
“With ‘BAD LOVE’, I finally became me.” – KEY