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Music worth a listen: Key on his 2nd LP ‘Gasoline’

 
Key of Shinee poses during an online press conference on Tuesday. (SM Entertainment)
Key of Shinee poses during an online press conference on Tuesday. (SM Entertainment)

To make the case that his presence is the one and only and greatest of all time in the cutthroat K-pop industry, Key of boy band Shinee welcomed the beauty of the new season with his second LP, “Gasoline,” released Tuesday evening.

This marks a return for the singer-turned-soloist nearly 11 months since he dropped his first EP, “Bad Love,” in September 2021. It is also his first full-length studio album since his first LP, “Face,” in November 2018.

“It’s an album I set a great value on. I’ve poured in so much effort. It’s hard to see 11 tracks in an LP these days, but mine is a jam-packed album,” Key said, gushing about his new music.

During Tuesday’s online press conference, the musician described his new album as “peppered with various musical colors,” saying it felt like an extension of “Bad Love.” He went on to say the term “retro” was the biggest inspiration in bringing his sound to the world.

“Retro is not something new to me, but it’s just me. I love old-fashioned things, and it’s what is to my taste. I didn’t want to hide my identity from music listeners. It’s what I wanted to show as a soloist, and I worked on the whole project with a humble attitude,” he said.

The soul in retro, in particular, caught the singer’s attention. As someone born in the 1990s, the old-fangled style and design get him nostalgic.

“Technology makes everything possible today, but the retro style of drawing using a colored pencil is a charm,” he said. “Those reminiscences inspired me.”
 
Key of Shinee poses during an online press conference on Tuesday. (SM Entertainment)
Key of Shinee poses during an online press conference on Tuesday. (SM Entertainment)

But landing on a title track with Key’s definition of retro was a long row to hoe. Finding something of high value took a year, and the slot remained vacant for a while.

“A song doesn’t come out quickly. It requires a lot of time and effort, and composer Kenzie couldn’t work on composing for some time due to her injury. I had to wait, and thankfully, she wrote this song for me while she wrote Girls’ Generation’s ‘Forever 1,’” he said, giving credit to the producer and composer under SM Entertainment.

The namesake track is a hip-hop-based beat interweaved with brass and drum sounds, completed by an addictive hook in the chorus. Key is also listed himself as a lyricist for the song. As the title suggests, he likens himself to the explosive power of gasoline to show how he aims to craft his own path.

“I heard the static spark can ignite gasoline vapors and cause a flash fire. I wanted to show my energy and confidence,” Key said.

When asked what the driving source is behind his energy and confidence, Key said without hesitation: his fans.
 
Key of Shinee poses during an online press conference on Tuesday. (SM Entertainment)
Key of Shinee poses during an online press conference on Tuesday. (SM Entertainment)

“I know it sounds corny, but fans are the only ones who can root for and support us in any given circumstances and situation. That means a lot to singers. When it comes to myself, I like to show myself. I feel accomplished when I see my final outcome, which is like a present I give to my fans and me.”

Other songs on the album are: “Bound,” “Villain,” “Burn,” “Guilty Pleasure,” “G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time),” “I Can’t Sleep,” “Ain’t Gonna Dance,” “Another Life,” “Delight” and “Proud.”

Key thanked Jeno of NCT Dream for featuring in “Villain,” the third track on the album. “Jeno had something that I didn’t. Not only can he sing and rap, but he has a husky voice. The two contrasting voices turned out well, and I liked it because we are the complete opposite.”

Speaking about why he decided to prerelease the track during SMTown Live Concert, he said he missed being on such a big stage and wanted to share the moment with fans.

“It’s rare to meet such a big audience these days in the first place. I wanted to show it, although some people in the company worried about performing the track 10 days before its official release,” Key added.

Going back to “Gasoline,” Key said it’s an album with various tunes anyone can enjoy. “It’s hard to ask people to listen to my music these days, but I always want people to revel in the songs as much as I did in making them. Then you’ll be able to see Key as an artist,” he said.
 
Key of Shinee poses during an online press conference on Tuesday. (SM Entertainment)
Key of Shinee poses during an online press conference on Tuesday. (SM Entertainment)

“Some people say I have a certain music style, but I don’t. I continuously study for the best with a little bit of my touch, and that’s retro, which is uniquely mine. If I brought something similar to ‘Bad Love,’ people would say I’m doing the same thing, but my next song could be a rock genre, ballad or urban dance.

“My role as an artist is to pick a good song and deliver it as a well-made package to people. I want my music to be worth paying for.”

At the end of the conference, Key expressed hope that his album would be something people enjoy.

“It’s hard to ask people to listen to my music these days, but I always want people to revel in the songs as much as I did in making them,” he said. “Then you’ll be able to see Key as an artist.”

The 11-track package hit global music platforms on Tuesday at 6 p.m.



By Park Jun-hee (junheeep97@heraldcorp.com)
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