While I’m quite frankly still not over the stellar B-side “Another Life“ off the same ‘Gasoline‘ album, Key of SHINEE has returned with the title track of the album today. At first blush it’s not exactly the type of song that you’d expect me to warm up to immediately, but there’s a distinct and alluring anthemic nature that makes “Gasoline” undeniable to me.
“Gasoline” wants to be a hip-hop dance anthem and that it is, with a bold brass section that’s especially ear-catching, not unlike that of Lil Nas X‘s “Industry Baby“ (also great). That element combined with the hard-hitting beat alone basically makes the song, but add in Key’s effortless charisma, vocal performance, and at times matter-of-fact coolness to his delivery, and you have the formula for greatness.
Although my affinity for the production was almost immediate, I had noted initially that it seemed to be a great song without necessarily memorable hooks. But as I listened more, turns out that the call-and-response section with “champ” at its center was something I always looked forward to hearing, and the rhythmic delivery of “now I know know, it’s a go go, shoot my gasoline, yeah I got it got it got it baby” hook was also easy to nod your head along to. Fortunately, that took up large swaths of the song, so that only enhanced my enjoyment.
One odd choice was “Gasoline” lifting of the mood after the second verse, as it felt out of place since it’s such a departure from the aggressive and maximalist soundscape we were getting otherwise. Thankfully though, it was brief enough to not impact things much overall, and in a way it reminded me that it was the kind of track recent-gen boy groups want to (but usually fail to) achieve in terms of being bombastic and cool but still maintaining that pop melodic core to it.
The music video also deserves highlighting of its own, as it crafts a bit of lore, depicting Key as some kind of higher-being rising to prominence surrounded his loyal followers. It all ties into the lyrics that, while self-aggrandizing at times, comes more from a place of confidence and ambition, because it’s not the awards he wants but to fulfill his artistic vision. In a way then, this music video is a declaration of his passion and a showcase for it.
Even if you ignore any of that meaning, “Gasoline” is just beautiful visually to anybody watching. If Key wanted to show that he was in control, then he did so through a vast compliment of sets and costumes that are a treat in themselves, and they’re paired with choreo to drive the point home.
At least for my preferences, “Gasoline” is a risky single. Something like the aforementioned “Another Life” is basically right up my alley, but more often than not these bombastic, declarative tracks like this fall woefully short and end up being annoying more than anything. However, when it works the results can be special, and Key demonstrates as much here, delivering on the anthemic promise and tying it together with a visually striking compliment that makes it a complete package.