KPop’s longest running idol group, Shinhwa, has returned bright and early in 2017 with their 13th full album, Unchanging, to start the year off right. Unchanging combines 5 new tracks (including their title Touch) with a re-release of the 5 tracks from UNCHANGING PART1. Part 1 was a fun, contemplative yet slick dance party then the new tracks display the suave, smooth, confident and sexy sides of men in their late 30’s.
The album begins with Heaven, a melancholic tale of a past lover who has moved on. The words are remorseful as the members croon about the loneliness they now experience and it’s beautiful yet tragic in how the men deliver the emotionally fuelled lyrics. This single definitely tugs on the heart strings.
Touch is next and it’s a production heavy song that utilizes the future bass sound. There’s barely any melody and no chorus but the men navigate it effortlessly with their classic Shinhwa swagger. The lyrics also reflect a dead relationship but this time, the focus is on Shinhwa as they repeat that this mystery women should walk away and not come back. Touch is smooth and sexy and encompasses a cold, winter feeling that Shinhwa has not shown before.
The next single is Super Power and it is a highlight of this album. They’ve mentioned that they initially chose to promote this song over Touch but in the end, went with the unknown instead of a concept that they’ve done before. I respect the decision but I will revolt if we do not receive a live performance of this song. Super Power is high energy from beginning to end. The lyrics are fitting for men at their age as they let us know what they like, in many ways, throughout the song. Sex may be a taboo subject in Korea but this song is all about the act. And the explosive singing, especially near the end, reminds us that their singing chops have not faltered over time.
Tonight is next and it’s another song about sex! Where Super Power is aggressive (like their previous title track, Sniper), Tonight is more charismatic and romantic. Written by Lee Minwoo, it’s a song created with the member’s unique colours in mind and that is why it shines.
Bye Bye Bye is the last of the new songs and honestly, I had a reaction to the lyrics. KPop is known for being melodramatic with the singers always feeling sorry for the end of a relationship but Bye Bye Bye is not that song. The lyrics are honest and display men who are tired and bored of a failed relationship, they want the end to come swift and soon so they can forget the woman in question. It’s brutal and would certainly be harsh if you are on the receiving end of these lyrics but I’m sure many of us have wanted to say these exact words before. It’s great to have a relatable song.
We is a party song that is meant to pick you up after a long day or week. The lyrics stress that being surrounded by loved ones always makes for a great mood and atmosphere. The chorus is where the song truly catches your ear with the lyrics, “We love, we love 2 party” begging you to sing along.
The title track for Part 1 is Orange and it’s a cute song dedicated to the fans. Orange is the official colour of their fan club and it means everything to both Shinhwa and Shinhwa Changjo’s (the name of their fans). The lyrics are touching and the orange themed video is fun.
She Said was actually released as a special single before both albums had been released and it’s more along the style of Shinhwa’s previous pop/r&b influenced albums. The song reflects on a relationship between a man and a woman that is still in that awkward stage where you can only be defined as acquaintances even though you want it to be more. The song is sophisticated and ponders on a subject that is not easily discussed by idols. It’s still considered a scandal if an idol is found to be in a relationship, so they must navigate the space described in this song frequently.
Like A Star is a romantic song and the members sound amazing on it as they enhance the lyrics with their emotions. It’s quite unique how Shinhwa manage to fit 3 rappers into every track and it never feels forced, even on a ballad song like this one. Leader Eric’s rap actually stands out the most in this song.
We end the album with #Chocolate and it’s fitting that this funky single is how we say good-bye to their 13th album. Shinhwa constantly asks, “Why are you so pretty” and contemplate on how their feelings grow more and more for this person. It’s the best to end with a happy heart and #Chocolate certainly does that.