[Review] [Album] Shinhwa – ‘The Classic’

2013_shinhwa_the classic

written by: McRoth
Artist/Album: SHINHWA – 11th Album,’The Classic’
Genre: Dance, Pop, Ballad
Release Date: May 16, 2013

There was a heavy dose of nostalgia listening to Shinhwa‘s ‘The Return‘ last year that, while prominent, was itself mostly generated from an interesting blend of audience emotional investment and old-school production value. It was an act of synergy that although executed in bare, simple, and trend-heavy mediocrity (it was old-timers attempting to keep up with a younger generation a la NKOTBSB), something about it felt right – right here, where it mattered.

The Classic‘, Shinhwa’s 11th studio album, continues this trend of striking a nostalgic nerve. But the difference here is that it does so with more gravitas and finesse.

For one, ‘The Classic’ reduces the dichotomy in cohesiveness – a flaw found in ‘The Return’ – that leaves a stronger impression upon first listen. From the opening measures of “That’s Right” – a broad pop-rock ballad with a strong emotional punchline – to the new jack swag of “Mannequin” that closely resembles their 2002 sound (i.e., “Perfect Man“), Shinhwa’s holding on tightly to their roots and not letting go. And for good reason, as it would work to their detriment to change the formula now. But this isn’t a bad thing, because it’s when they fuse classic foolproof technicality and modern style that we get things like “This Love” to happen.

Acting as the lead single of the album, “This Love” is a great example of what clean mid 2000’s minimalism and soaring melodic grandeur sounds like under today’s tight production hand. The template is just bare enough to allow movement in the most important moments of the song (like the pre-chorus and hook), and tightly wound when emphasis is needed (Eric‘s epic rap section). Much like the name of this album, “This Love” is a true pop classic in every musical shape and form without sounding outdated. And I think that’s what Shinhwa’s bringing to the table. Or at least is attempting to.

If anything is lacking in Shinhwa’s ‘The Classic’ it’s a bit of unpredictability, as contradicting as that sounds. Mystery and intrigue make up a lot of what keeps Korean pop music listeners on their toes and this album does its job of filling that void with unmistakably mundane details for you. It’s not necessarily a bad thing per se, but it’s not groundbreaking work either. Songs like the piano ballad “Laughing…” and mid-tempo “New Me” are so plain in composition they could easily be scooped up by any, yes any, other boyband and executed the same way – perhaps better. There’s a unique Shinhwa touch that appears in a lot of this album, but when that touch gets hazy is when these songs become blank and uninteresting.


Regardless, there’s a sweet fluidity about ‘The Classic’ that makes listening to it a gratifying experience. Be it Shinhwa’s recognizable vocal delivery or the overall pace at which it chugs along – the song distribution and movement between tracks is pleasant and tight, paramount when crafting albums – one thing’s for certain: Shinhwa and company know exactly where their strengths lie and in what forms to showcase them for great results. They’re manipulating our nostalgia by building upon their legacy, and that’s kind of fascinating.



That’s Right
An Acquainted Guy
This Love
New Me
Laughing …
Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
I Give You
Love Song
Total Points

Points to stars conversion: [(5.5/10) x 5] + 0.25*


*there is a 0.25 bonus for every album. The logic is that, if every song were “pretty good”, it’s a 4-star album.

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6 thoughts on “[Review] [Album] Shinhwa – ‘The Classic’

  1. We may not see eye to eye on the best and worst of this album, but I do think your overall perception of “The Classic” is spot on. It’s good at being what it is, nothing more, nothing less.

    • Totally!

      Even if this album wasn’t excellent, I still enjoyed it.

      Also, I didn’t get into Shinhwa’s vocals here, but that alone is worth giving this album a spin. Junjin and Hyesung (plus the rest of the gang) sound amazing.

      • That’s totally true. I spent an eternity talking about how good Minwoo, Dongwan and Hyesung sound in my review of the album.

        I’d compare “The Classic” to eating cotton candy; it’s fun while it lasts, but it has minimal lasting impression.

    • By the way, great blog! I was just talking with an old K-pop blogger friend of mine about the diminishing number of K-bloggers in today’s day in age, but I’m so glad you dropped by. HOPE IS NOT LOST.

      Thanks for commenting and I’ll drop by more often and leave some comments of my own :D

      • I’m glad you stopped by and liked what I had to offer. I’m very much a novice at all of this, but I can’t deny that it’s much more fun that I ever thought it would be. I’ve been dropped head first into the K-ent blogosphere, and I really can’t look back.

        It is sad though that this world of K-pop blogging has become quite stagnant. I still love the staples like your site, but it would be nice to see some fresh blood around here.

        May I ask who this old blogger friend of yours is? I’d love to check out what they have to offer.

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