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Key Kills the Retro Concept in Bad Love

SHINee’s Key has had his first official solo comeback. Two years have passed since his solo debut, thirteen years have passed since his debut with SHINee, and about a year since his military discharge. Key spent most of 2021 celebrating his reunion with SHINee, to now, releasing his first mini-album, Bad Love. This new album is a six-track collection of campy, 80’s inspired bangers, which Key has lovingly described as “retro space.”

He starts this album off with “Bad Love,” the title track that gave this album its name. This track starts off with a jarring rift and then dives into a retrofuturistic earworm of a song. With powerful adlibs and heavy synths, “Bad Love” creates an experience. This track sends you straight into the world Key has created with this sci-fi-inspired comeback.

Hate that…” is the ballad of the album, and collaboration with Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon. This was a pre-release to “Bad Love,” and is much more emotionally charged (a.k.a. sad) compared to ’80s, synthpop dance tracks the album has to offer. “Helium” is the English track featured on the album and my personal favorite. Key continues to bring the universe he created through the quirky ad-libs in the background – things that could only be described as growls and pitched alien language accompanying him. This trend is continued in “Yellow Tape,” which starts off with a siren. These oddities make this mini-album stand out from the rest. On the other hand, we get a refreshing, dream-pop track with “Saturday Night,” which is exactly has Key says in the chorus, “something sad but cool.”

In the final song on the album, “Eighteen (End Of My World),” Key speaks to his younger self. When Key was just seventeen, he debuted with SHINee and got dunked head-first into stardom. This is an intimate track where he re-visits his old self to advise him throughout the rocky terrain of the industry. It’s an END CREDIT screen on this era of Key, as well as an introduction of himself to the new generation of listeners.

Key continues to explore his artistry and solidify his spot as an icon no matter the year through Bad Love. Every song is unique while also creating the story Key has aimed to tell through this album. I cannot recommend this album enough and has slowly crawled its way up to one of my favorite albums of all time.

Hello!! I'm Hannah and I use she/they pronouns. :)) I'm majoring in Communications Studies with a minor in Creative Writing. I write about music, pop culture, and gaming! HMU if you want to discuss the Zelda timeline. Instagram: @han_bibbs.
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