Monsta X are one of a few new-wave boy groups who have enjoyed steadily increasing success since their debut. Their pursuit of a harder-edged sound hasn’t always been to my taste, but as they progress it feels like they’re beginning to incorporate some very BTS-like emotional weight to their music. While this seems like the next logical step for their growing sound, I can’t help but feel like they could use an additional spark to distinguish themselves from other similarly pitched groups.
So far, the uniqueness in Monsta X’s sound has been their tendency toward aggressive, noisy instrumentals and the unmistakable one-two punch of rappers Jooheon and IM. This has allowed them to transform relatively generic material into something that feels cohesively on brand. With “Shine Forever“, they’ve taken that same template and laid it over a slower, more emotive song structure. It’s an admirable shift, but the track itself is among Monsta X’s weakest singles to date. This is largely the fault of the song’s chorus, which takes the frustrating approach of mostly repeating the same two words over and over. This can work well if the refrain has an addictive hook, but the “shining forever” melody feels monotonous and forgettable.
Without a strong chorus at its core, the verses are left to do the heavy lifting. Things start promisingly, with a striking, percussive synth riff. But in this case, the rapping comes in too early, overtaking what might have been an impressive opening melody. The pre-chorus is the song’s strongest moment, building dramatically with a pounding drum beat and kaleidoscopic synths. It’s hard to fault the guys’ dynamic performance, especially as their vocals explode at the song’s climax. But something about “Shine Forever” feels oddly hollow, like the shadow of a superior song we’ve heard before.