SHINee’s Key is slated for his mandatory military enlistment soon, but before going on hiatus he’s teased a repackage of his excellent debut album. “Cold” is a prelude to that, digitally released as part of SM Entertainment’s Station project. But unlike the retro-pop and EDM found on his album, the song is downbeat and emotional.
Taking on a loungy approach, “Cold” remains subdued throughout most of its running time. Key sounds wonderful as usual, and played a part in writing the lyrics. Unlike his flashier material, “Cold” definitely digs a little deeper into his thinking as an artist. But, the song itself leaves me (no pun intended) cold. For fans of this kind of mellow r&b sound, I’m genuinely curious what the appeal is. I get the sentiment, and the oft-repeated “I’m so cold and alone” refrain really drives it home. This is mood music, tethered to a low-key, coffeehouse groove that never draws much attention away from the performers.
Speaking of performers, Key is joined by rapper Hanhae on the track, who supplies a brief dose of emotive hip-hop during the second verse. In another world, these two would have collaborated on something much funkier and dynamic, like Phantom’s “Dutch Pay” or “Baby Please“. But alas, Hanhae’s compositional input was likely limited to his rap verse. Instead, “Cold” follows the SM Station template too slavishly, relying more on atmosphere and tone than compelling songwriting and arrangement. It’s just too melancholic for me.