Pentagon really fell off my radar after proving themselves to only be enjoyable because their debut was so downright laughable. Amazingly, “Shine” has not only impressed me, but has me playing catch up on their other releases as a result.
What works solidly throughout in “Shine” is the spacious and theatrical instrumental that could easily be seen as ‘La La Land‘ inspired. Depending on what you think of theatre music, some of you might think I’m being insulting when I say that, but on the contrary, I think theatrical instrumentals like this work exceptionally well within the realm of K-pop, and it’s something we’ve sourly been missing since Seventeen have chosen to take their music elsewhere. Just as the instrumental gets on the border of being overly repetitive with that piano line, the pre-chorus breaks things up just enough. As it drops right back into that the same piano line, because of the pre-chorus, the light, bouncy, and fun feeling it originally had is revived, right up to the ending “na na” refrain that directly mimic the piano notes.
I really want to point out that while the chorus melody overall is definitely enjoyable, it wouldn’t be nearly as catchy as it is without this kind of backing. In fact, that can go for a lot of the vocal elements in the song, especially the sing-songy talking and rap sections. Even in the middle of the chorus they have their rappers just short of shout things out just-in-tune, which could’ve killed the vibe had the instrumental not allowed for such playful choices. They are just short of taking it too far, but that’s what makes this so fun and successful. They worked this right up to the edge, and I love that they really went for it. They could’ve played it much safer having only their vocalists sing everything pitch perfectly, but it really would’ve lacked in comparison to what we ended up with.
I also really enjoyed that as the song progresses we get more of the shouts and exclamations in between the empty spaces of the track and more anthemic group singing, which helps push things to the songs peak. By the end, after the final break into the final chorus we see the strength of all these elements at work to bring everything to a fulfilling ending.
The music video was equally as successful for me, and this is almost what I’d imagine a male Red Velvet concept meeting upbeat BTOB/early Seventeen looking like.
Perhaps I’m simply out of touch with K-pop and that’s why I think that, but for me it’s got that same whimsical quirk to the concept that Red Velvet have come to be known for, from the styling to the makeup, but also a lot of the boyish playfulness BTOB and Seventeen have shown in their stages.
They definitely made this their own, though. I loved how a lot of this felt like watching a bunch of kids on a playground, and I loved even more that they mixed a lot of that vibe into the polished choreography as well.
Both musically and visually, Pentagon stood out to me with a playful, theatrical, and solidly catchy single in “Shine.” Looking at their past few singles, it seems I’ve missed a lot coming from them as they’ve been releasing relatively solid tracks. With the over saturation of the market being what it is, I can only hope the industry can shed some light on Pentagon’s “Shine” as it certainly deserves it.