With over 3,000 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.
The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!
Year Released: 2009
Given their penchant for hiring international composers, a number of SM Entertainment hits are repurposed songs originally meant for an English-language pop star. But back in the day, this went even a step further. Occasionally, SM singles were direct copies of established hits, switching the lyrics but otherwise retaining the general production of the original. f(x)’s Hot Summer is probably the most notable of these cases, as it began life as a hit for German girl group Monrose. But SHINee’s Juliette (줄리엣) precedes it. This song was a 2007 single for American pop star Corbin Bleu (of High School Musical fame). And, this follows SHINee’s single Love Like Oxygen — itself a cover of Danish pop star Martin’s 2008 hit. At the time, a sizable chunk of SHINee’s singles run cast them as pop music vultures!
But, the act of covering and reinventing hits is as old as pop music. What really matters is what you bring to the composition to make it your own. SHINee have an incredible dynamic, and it’s no surprise that their career has far outlasted that of both Corbin Bleu and Martin. Their version of Juliette retains the classic funk pop stylings of the original, but imbues the punchy instrumental with their flashy vocal performance.
As with many SHINee tracks, the delivery is 100% rhythmic, as the guys twist each and every syllable around the groove. Juliette improves vastly under their watch. A palpable sense of passion transforms the song into a charismatic tour de force. Vocal ad-libs abound, careening through the climax with a forceful energy. And while the chorus may be a little one-note, that note is played to the hilt, buttressed by wisps of vocal layering that nudge us toward the hook with a supple delivery. Juliette pushes all the right buttons, even if SHINee would go on to deliver more classic material in the future.