What I’m Listening To: Soulmate, Shinhwa

Source: http://mtvk.com/2012/02/27/details-about-shinhwas-comeback/

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.  I make no distinction between idol and non-idol Kpop, popular and obscure, mainstream and indie. It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too. With Minwoo’s release from military service, the mighty Shinhwa is now complete and poised on the brink of a legendary comeback in March.  It seemed only fitting to share one of my favorite Shinhwa songs.

What I’m Listening To

Who Does It

Shinhwa holds the distinction of being the oldest Kpop male group of the Hallyu era that has maintained its original lineup.  I think many people wrote them off as part of that first generation of Hallyu groups (i.e. H.O.T., SES, Fin.K.L.).  I might have agreed with you. Have you gone back to see “Resolver,” (1998) their first video?  Remember those shiny suits? That swinging pendulum? You know you thought that was hot. Ok, in some ways, I still think it’s hot.  However,  Shinhwa has stood the test of time, through ups and downs, even through having five of the six members undertake military service.

Shinhwa is made up of three rappers (Eric, Andy, Jun Jin) and three singers (Minwoo, Dongwan, Hye Sung).  Since debuting, they have produced their own music and starred in Kdramas.  One of the other things that distinguishes Shinhwa from other groups of their era is their legendary exit from SM Entertainment.  Rather than sign a contract without some group members, Shinhwa walked out, and later sued SME for the right to use their name (all Tina Turner-like) and one. They’ve tried just about every concept in the book and lived to tell the tale.

Their last Korean studio album was released in 2008, and at one of their last concerts, they promised their fans, called Changjos, that they would return. Some may have been skeptical, as military service has broken up many a male group.  However, even before the release of Andy and Jun Jin, rumors started flying about a reunion. In late 2011, members of Shinhwa began confirming plans for a comeback.  In May 2011, Eric and Minwoo formed Shinhwa Company, and by October 2011, Hye Sung confirmed a Shinhwa comeback during his Japanese concert.

Why I Like It

“Soulmate” is a single from Shinhwa’s 2002 album, Wedding, and in many ways, exemplifies the best of the group. Shinhwa features three rappers and three singers, and one might think that the singers would overshadow the rappers, or the rappers would steal the spotlight from the singers.  One of the things I like about Shinhwa is that they do a good job of balancing these talents, and “Soulmate” is a nice example of that.

The song begins fairly mellow with individual singers.  It features simple instrumentation throughout.  The tempo picks up, with harmonization by singers, followed by a brief,  rapid-fire rap, and then a return to the up-tempo pace.  This completely works for me.

Several customer reviews on YesAsia suggest that the album takes multiple listenings to really appreciate it. I concur. When I first listened to it, I completely disregarded “Soulmate,” but thanks to the sneaky iTunes shuffle feature, it popped up one day, and I was hooked.

Sources:

Shin Hye Sung Confirms Comeback Date for Shinhwa, allkpop.com

Eric and Lee Minwoo form “Shinhwa Company” for Shinhwa’s 2012 Comeback, koreaboo.com

Customer Reviews for Shinhwa’s WeddingYesAsia

Polishing My Tiara, or What It’s Like Being An Orange Princess Today

Yeah, I know all the cool kids are into SNSD and Super Junior and BigBang and SHINee. I like them too. You get to see them doing stuff nearly every day.   But it takes commitment to be a Changjo, a fan of Shinhwa, an Orange Princess.

Cassies always keep the faith and all, but try being an Orange Princess. It is no secret that I LOVE Shinhwa. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: Andy, Eric, Dongwan, Minwoo, Hyesung, Jun Jin:

While I love the individual members of Shinhwa, you know there is always your bias.  You hear that, Andy? It’s you and me, baby, YOU and ME! It’s true, I have a thing for the maknaes….

Read more at KPK: Kpop Kollective (Originially published on June 22, 2011)

Polishing My Tiara, or What It’s Like Being An Orange Princess Today

Originally published on KPK: Kpop Kollective on June 22, 2011 by CeeFu

Yeah, I know all the cool kids are into SNSD and Super Junior and BigBang and SHINee. I like them too. You get to see them doing stuff nearly every day.   But it takes commitment to be a Changjo, a fan of Shinhwa, an Orange Princess.

Cassies always keep the faith and all, but try being an Orange Princess. It is no secret that I LOVE Shinhwa. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: Andy, Eric, Dongwan, Minwoo, Hyesung, Jun Jin:

While I love the individual members of Shinhwa, you know there is always your bias.  You hear that, Andy? It’s you and me, baby, YOU and ME! It’s true, I have a thing for the maknaes:

Because Shinhwa is “inactive” and scattered across the Kpop universe, it takes a certain amount of determination to keep the love alive. Ok, not really, because there are so many reasons to love Shinhwa that are not affected by space and time. One of the reasons why I hold Shinhwa so dear (you know, other than the fact they are very attractive and talented men in THE legendary Kpop group) is the sheer diversity of musical styles they attempt.  Like most people, I have playlists on my IPod, and one of my playlists is Kpop, of course. It’s huge, but it never fails that when some song comes on I can’t place, the answer is ALWAYS Shinhwa.

Who is that with the gospel-esque track laced with some rap? Shinhwa! They get all revival-y with this one. My Everything is a song that always throws me, especially when I forget which playlist I’m on. Fo’ real? You go!

Who is that with the classical intro that turns into heavy metal that turns into a rap? Shinhwa!  All Your Dreams is the kind of song you want to blast on your boomin’ system in the car, just to see people’s faces when they pull up next to you at the light. Is that guitar AND Korean rap? The only thing better than this is the remix, which is heavier in all the best ways.

Who is that with the groovy dance track? Shinhwa!  Oh. this applies to so many songs, but one of my favorites is Thanks! I do wish there was some video for this, but it is one of my favorite songs by them, so enjoy!

Who is that with the dance-y dance track? Shinhwa!  I’m still trying to convince the rest of KPK to start a dance cover group so that we can get our own chair dance on like Shinhwa does in Wild Eyes!  Why are you looking at me like that? Look, I got a chair right over here…..Why do they think it’s such a weird idea?

Who is that just having a little chit-chat in Korean? Shinhwa! Who else would think they could get away with some conversation in Korean like the one on Tansaeng? Dudes, I don’t even KNOW Korean!!!! What are you talking about? Whatever it is, it seems awfully funny, and I’m steadily listening to whatever Shinhwa is putting down on that track!

This small sampling of Shinhwa offerings is not just representative of the wacky stuff on my IPod. It shows the sheer diversity of stuff Shinhwa did in their 13 (and counting) years. They literally hit every musical genre on the planet, except maybe for monk chants, and I’m not sure, there may be one tucked away on some Shinhwa album not in my heavy rotation. In a day and age where some groups are so careful to try to meet the expectations of listeners, Shinhwa reminds me of what it was like to set the expectation.

Oh yeah, and I’m waiting for my comeback, patiently waiting, but waiting nonetheless. My tiara is all ready.

So, Shinhwa, where you at?