SHINee are a group that are as consistently reliable as it gets when it comes to quality music, so I suppose KEY should’ve always been on my radar, but admittedly I didn’t really take notice of his solo work until 2021’s “Bad Love” (and even “Hate That“). But he certainly demanded my attention then and has continued to hold it since, with his latest effort in “Killer” being another impressive addition to his discography.
One surefire way to make it onto a playlist of mine one way or another is to evoke some kind of mood or imagery that makes it an easy listen at any time, so like a high-speed nighttime drive adjacent to the city lights, and that’s the tone the uptempo synthwave “Killer” sets.
Unsurprisingly for something in that genre, it’s not breaking new ground, and like “Gasoline” had “Industry Baby“, “Killer” will inevitably draw “Blinding Lights” comparisons. But, and I’m a broken record here, execution matters and KEY’s flair for the dramatic fits this sound like a glove as his vocals ride perfectly over the beat. Things really kick into overdrive during the soaring chorus with memorable “I’m the killer … pull the trigger … like a thriller” hook in the fleshed-out and undeniably addicting melody. It just feels like a song that easily could’ve been very generic and fine but instead KEY and the production pushes things to the next level and it’s so much better for it. Also the vaguely disco-aerobic sound — my metric is always see if I can imagine it being in Flashdance — is also buoyed by mood-setting music video and KEY’s own strengths as a performer.
It’s a straight-forward song, which is oddly unconventional in a way from SM Entertainment these days, but it’s also timelessly appealing and KEY puts his body and soul into the delivery of this one. As mentioned before, KEY has had a consistently great run of trendy releases the last couple years now and it’s nice to see that carry over into 2023 for a year that so far has desperately needed signs of life.