Stef Recommends: “I Want You” by SHINee

Writing about music is hard when you are not possessed of the Legit Music Criticism Vocabulary — but I’m trying my darndest now for SHINee, the inimitable South Korean boy band known as the “Princes of K-pop,” who are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year with a series of EPs entitled The Story of Light. The Story of Light EP.2 just dropped on June 11, and its lead single, “I Want You,” is a sweet, heartfelt tropical house bop that will no doubt make it onto the soundtrack of your summer. I’m not ashamed to say that the first time I heard it, I cried tears of joy, and I’ve had it on repeat ever since.

SHINee’s strength has always been the seemingly effortless blending of their vocals, and those harmonies are on display here in full force. “I Want You” starts off with a fairly standard trop house beat — but it’s when that full-bodied, smooth-as-butter oh na na na hits in the pre-chorus that the song opens up into something truly magical, wistful and reaching, before breaking into an eminently danceable chorus. I’ve described this song elsewhere as feeling like I’m splashing around in a swimming pool with all my friends, with beach balls and unicorn floaties and glasses of mango juice. Now, I think I also want to say simply that this song makes me feel loved. There are few other words I have to describe it. It’s that good.

I can’t deny that this comeback is a bittersweet one; I’d be remiss in writing about SHINee without briefly mentioning Jonghyun, the fifth member of the band who passed away late last year. In the wake of his passing, SHINee asked their fans to never forget Jonghyun, and to always think of them as a five-member band. So I’d like to think Jonghyun is proud to see what they’ve done, and is smiling and singing and dancing right along with them, in the space that they’ve left for him. Dear boys — you’ve all done so, so well.

Enjoy the colorful, ridiculously wonderful retro music video for “I Want You” here:

(Song recommendation by Stef Tran)

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