Fashion Music Review

Era Review: Base by Jonghyun

Yay! We’ve made it to post 100!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉

So this post has been in the making for like years. I mentioned back in my “She Is” post how much SHINee & Jonghyun have influenced my 20s. Technically, me and SHINee go further back than that, but I’ll talk about that in a future SHINee post. It’s on my CVS receipt sized list of blog post to write. Back when I decide to make a blog dedicated to Kpop and later Kpop fashion, I knew I had to cover my faves like BTS we’ll also get to them eventually, Seventeen, VIXX another group we’ll get to soon, and SHINee.

I noticed I was nearing towards my 100th post around February or March. I forget when exactly also this year, like the last five years, has just been so long. I can’t believe it’s August, but at the same time, it feels like it should be later in the year. Anyway, I was starting to brainstorm ideas for my 100th post on ATK. My initial plan was to revisit Base for Jonghyun’s 31st birthday. When Jonghyun’s birthday passed in April, I knew I had to save this post for 100. So yeah, we’re finally getting it done. I’m so excited, and I hope y’all enjoy this post!


I have so much nostalgia for this album. My first Kpop album purchase was from Ktown4u, and it was VIXX’s Boy’s Record and Jonghyun’s Base. I wanted to support both with physical copies that would count towards the Korean charts. Ironically, my first VIXX album is my least favorite of theirs. It makes sense because it was a cover, not an original VIXX song with Ravi’s magic. But the packaging was cool. Plus it was my first comeback from them and despite me not liking the song that much or album, I had fun.

Base however was a completely different story. I was just coming off Taemin’s solo debut and was hype for Jonghyun’s. I wasn’t expecting to fall so hard for him or the album. I replayed this album SOOOOOOOO much. My mom’s old car still had a CD player in it. So on days we didn’t want to deal with satellite radio, I’d put in my Kpop albums along with a few Western CD’s I still had in the mid 2010s. I’m always talking about how much I love R&B in Kpop and Jonghyun doubled down on that sound for his first solo. So big brain of him.

Actually, this whole album sound and visual concepts feels like it was handpicked for me. Jonghyun was like:

Alright, one more introduction before we actually get into Base. This post is gonna be formatted slightly different from my previous album reviews. I’m going to talk about each track, talk about the styling, then showcase my favorite videos and moments of Base era. But before we get into that, I want to give credit and shout out fyjjong on Tumblr. The absolute QUEEN of Jonghyun content.

They continue to run the blog as a memorial and gives updates to things related to Jonghyun’s legacy. I’ve been consistently followed their account since 2015, and I have nothing but respect for them. If it wasn’t for their account, I wouldn’t have had access to this era in full as an international fan. I can’t even begin to articulate how important they are to the fandom and me personally.

Alright, let’s get into it for real this time.


Info Dump About My Copy Of Base & Merch From This Time

Pic also from fyjjong. This is the photocard I got with my album, but I didn’t want to take a pick of it, lol.

I will include pics of my “SHINee” Closet, though.


BASE – The 1st Mini Album : Track By Track

Déjà-Boo – Featuring Zion. T

Coming out the gate, swing with “Déjà-Boo”. Okay, I know I was going to talk about the music first, but I have to give context to why I chose the Picnic live version for this song and “Love Belt”. The Picnic special was one of the first ways I watched Jonghyun perform these songs. Back in 2015, you didn’t have Vlive to watch a comeback or debut showcase. You pretty much had to wait for music show performances if you were an ifan.

I was immediately obsessed with this set and Jonghyun’s simple, but stylish outfit during these performances. I alway was way too emotionally attached to his dark blonde hair. His hair was part of why I decided to go blonde in 2015 and nearly destroyed my hair in the process lmao. I recommend listening to the studio version of course but if there’s a live video performance, I’m gonna embed it.

On to the song. I’m not the best at describing a song’s structure and influences and junk. Fortunately, when it comes to the inspiration for the songs on Base, Jonghyun went pretty in depth (for the most part) in explaining each song. I’m going to link fyjjong’s full post talking about what Jonghyun said about Base here. I remember reading it back in 2015, and I’m so happy the post is still up.

For “Déjà-Boo” it’s basically talking about the feeling of someone already being their lover. Like they’ve gone through this feeling before, hence the déjà vu reference. Boo being a pet name for your partner, and bam, you’ve got a med tempo r&b bop with Zion.T doing the rap. I love this song and live performance so much. Everyone needs to experience it once in their life.

Omggg how could I forget the best part. At the end of the song Jonghyun says,”Okay, next” and even if you aren’t listening to Base from start to finish, every song that plays after “Déjà-Boo” has this beautiful transition. I reference it in my head just as much as DPR Live’s “ight cool“.

Crazy(Guilty Pleasure) – Featuring Iron

The obsession with Jonghyun steadily began to grow for me with the title track “Crazy (Gulity Pleasure)”. In 2015 Iron (the rapper) was really starting to get mainstream in Kpop/Korean industry. I enjoyed his rap on the song. Unfortunately, later into Iron’s life he become quite controversial (assaulting a teenage roommate with a baseball bat, marijuana use, and assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend) and passed away at 29 in January 2021. Which is absolutely wild, how quickly the time has flown. When I first sat down to write this, I thought it was back in 2020, not January of this year (as of me typing this). So my nostalgia for “Crazy” is slightly tarnished because of Iron. It’s still a great song.

According to fyjjong, “Jonghyun said during an interview with “Pops In Seoul” that the song is about “a guy whose friends don’t approve of his girlfriend”, saying, “She’s not right for you! You shouldn’t be with her!” But that only makes him become more attracted to her.“ So, it’s literally about the girl the song is about being his “guilty pleasure”.

Which yeah, that’s basically what we see throughout the music video and hear in the lyrics. Fashion wise, we finally get to the suits!! I talk about this in almost every music video fashion review with boy groups or male soloist, but I love me a good fooking suit. I really do. And Jonghyun gave us like 20 different suits in this era. Maybe this subconsciously caused my attraction to male idols in suits.

Hallelujah

Any Jonghyun/Shawols around during Base era that tell you “Hallelujah” didn’t get them into their feelings at least once is lying. The way this man and song had us SNATCHED. Absolutely unreal. Also, straight king shit for this one. It’s not meant to be taken in a religious way. Jonghyun wasn’t a religious person, but he used religious terms to describe the way someone made him feel. It’s a very sexy song that he never really went into deep detail about. I don’t think he really needed to on this one. Innuendo, caught and understood.

Love Belt – Featuring Younha

My favorite song from Base has changed overtime. But for the longest time “Love Belt” was my most revisited song from the album. It’s slower paced and sweet, but not boring. I fell in love with Younha’s voice immediately, and I never checked for her music, but she’s easily one of my favorite vocalist in Kpop/Korean music.

More from fyjjong, “He mentioned during a mini fanmeet after his debut solo performance on “Inkigayo“ on January 11th that he wrote the song whilst recovering in the hospital after his car accident in 2013 – hence the alluding to cars, car related things, etc. in the lyrics, but he said that the song itself isn’t actually about cars. He went on to elaborate that a ”love belt“ is essentially something that can act as a safety device as you go on living your life and the song kind of morphed into someone using their lover as a ”love belt”. 

Me becoming a Shawol in 2015 completely missed Jonghyun’s 2013 car accident. I forgot which video it is where Jonghyun missed out on filming and promotions because he was recovering during that time period. I thought it was “Sherlock/Clue” but I went back to check and the man was there so idk. But I had no idea that was even a thing until reading that paragraph. The concept of a lover being a “love belt” is really sweet. The jazzy rainy day vibes this song gives me every time I listen to it is why it’s one of my fave Jonghyun songs ever.

Neon

Imma keep it real with ya chief, I on’t listen to this song unless I’m listening to Base in full. It’s not a bad song. It’s that song you skip all the time, and then one day you listen to it and remember it’s a good song and that’s why you have it saved. It’s a similar sound to the rest of the album. I just don’t really listen to it. Yeah. That’s all I have to say on it.

MONO-Drama

fyjjong, “This is another one that he hasn’t spoken explicitly on, but I do recall him mentioning during an interview or appearance (though I can’t place where or when it was exactly) that he wanted fans to try to come up with possible meanings behind the song. Nothing’s been confirmed or spoken on since then, but so far I’ve seen speculations that range from: the song being written from a fan’s perspective about a one-sided/”unattainable” love for a celebrity/ idol, [to] it being written from a point of view of either narcissus about his own reflection or narcissus’ reflection about narcissus or it simply being a song about unrequited love. Knowing Jonghyun though, it would be as simple as the latter [unrequited], especially if he asked fans to “think” about the meaning.

I don’t remember how it happened, but one day after listening to “Mono-Drama” I remember immediately pressing repeat on it. And then I did it again, and again for about six times. Since then, it’s been my favorite song from Base and probably my most listened to next to like “Red” and “Dress Up”. Actually, “Red” might be the one “Mono-Drama” ties with. One day I’ll do a full album review of She Is.

Anyway, I definitely see the one-sided love meaning of “Mono-Drama” on a surface level. A literal level like a love belt being a literal belt of love from a lover protecting them on a particularly lousy day when you need that extra assurance. And “Crazy (Guilty Pleasure)” being about a guilty pleasure (a love interest) driving the protagonist crazy.

However, I agree closer with a few of the comments on this video talking about the perception of self. How you see you versus how everyone else sees you. This internal struggle, I imagine, is even more difficult when you throw in a third level, being a celebrity/famous/some type of public figure.

The parts where Jonghyun sings about wanting to be like you (the idol) and it being ridiculous for wanting to be like them because he/the protagonist can’t compare, is the biggest evidence I have to point to this secret meaning for “Mono-Drama”. We call musicians within Kpop idols. Typically, when we say idol it’s in the form of a perfect being, something or someone you’d want to be or be like. And not being able to attain that idealized version of yourself is the single player drama, a mono drama. Which Jonghyun also sings about more near the end of the song. And now I’m sad having this additional information.

My other favorite part of the way “Mono-Drama” is structured is how it just sounds like an album is ending. Everything is beautifully wrapped up, and I feel content with the journey I’ve been on for the last like 20 something minutes. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Beautiful Tonight + ????

So I said I don’t listen to “Neon” for no particular reason. Well, I don’t listen to “Beautiful Tonight” mainly because it’s really repetitive and just Jonghyun doing vocal runs for days. Which is great, but it’s not something I’m gonna listen to regularly outside of like the other solo songs of his and the times he’s a vocal slayer on SHINee’s songs. I do have to mention and important thing with “Beautiful Tonight” though, the kazoo.

Idk why the video looks like it won’t play, but the link is fine. I forgot the exact story, but Jonghyun picked up the kazoo as an instrument to learn and for live versions of “Beautiful Tonight” he would do the ending instrumentals with his kazoo 😭😭😭😭 he just looked so happy performing with it. So, although I don’t really care to listen to the whole song, I love watching live versions with his kazoo. Okay, enough crying about Jonghyun and his kazoo.

Fortune Cookie

The chokehold Jonghyun had on me in this video!!!! I love the dance version of “Hallelujah” but “Fortune Cookie” is what really set me off. I love the beat and 70s Funk/R&B vibes the song has. “Fortune Cookie” is a physical album exclusive. It’s paired with “Beautiful Tonight” one of those where it’s like the song is six minutes long and if you want to hear “Fortune Cookie” you have to skip to it.

The fact that Jonghyun hid this sensual song is hilarious because we didn’t realize it was the beginning of the end for stans. Once he started being [redacted] on main, it was game over for everyone. I remember watching this video all the time back in early 2015. I reblogged so many gifsets of it on Tumblr.

Alright, let’s get to the fun stuff. *Jonghyun voice* Okay, next


Styling During Base Era

Blue night radio ♡ 160429 Jonghyun revealed that, when preparing for his “Crazy (guilty pleasure)” stages, he wanted to channel a confidence similar to that of prince in terms of both his outfits and overall aura / stage presence. He went on to state that it’s not possible to talk about prince without mentioning, alluding to both his confidence and stage presence. [fyjjong]

Jonghyun’s fashion choices during Base were talked about so much at the time. They’re truly iconic now. You can’t think of Base without thinking about the colorful suits, pussybows, turtlenecks, chunky sweaters, belted jackets, and skinny jeans. I talked a lot about Jonghyun’s dark blonde hair, but his gray hair was iconic too. This was around the time a few idols would start dyeing their hair gray, and I lived for it.

I’ll link the translation to the post about Listerine’s marketing department sending Jonghyun a bunch of Listerine for free because Shawols were comparing his suits to the different flavors, here. But I took a screenshot of one of the posts about it.

Idk if I really have anything else to add to the fashion section. I’ve talked so much about it already, lmao. Let’s move on to fave videos and moments of mine.


Favorite Videos & Moments During Base Era

SHINee’s Surprise Party for Jonghyun

The best ot5 video imo. There’s so much chaos going on in this short video. There’s also a few fandom memes/jokes that come from this video as well. I don’t want to spoil too much if it’s your first time watching it, but you’ll enjoy it.

150305 Picnic Live Full Video

As mentioned earlier, this is my favorite performance showcase for Base. I highly recommend watching the whole concert.

JongHyun – Juliette / Crazy (Feat.Iron) [Yu Huiyeol’s Sketchbook]

Such a beautiful performance. I cry every time I watch it. I love watching Jonghyun give his all on stage.

[ENG] 150530 SHINee SNL Korea – [The ill brothers] part 1

This skit is so goofy and brings some more SHINee callbacks. Another iconic moment for the fandom.

[ENG] 150530 SHINee SNL Korea – [The ill brothers] part 2

And this of course is part two of the clip.

[150216] SHINee JONGHYUN 종현 – Congratulatory Message to Grazia Korea

I just think he looks stunning here lol.

My favorite pic of Jonghyun during this era

Idk why I was so obsessed with this photo. I had it as my lock and homescreen on my phone for the longest time. Remember when we used heavy Insta filters on every post? Good times…

Alright, we’re finally at the end of this post! I have a few more things to link. fyjjong has a masterist of all the video from this era. So if you want to get more of a visual experience of this era, definitely check that out. They also made a master list of all the achievements Jonghyun and SHINee reached during this time. It could easily be another like 500 words with me going into detail of all this stuff. So I’ll just leave the link here for those who are curious about it.


Idk if I was fully able to share how much Base means to me in this post. There were some parts I left out for time. But I think I did a decent job sharing my love this is album and man. If you’re new to Kpop or don’t really know Jonghyun or SHINee, I hope this was a great introduction for you! Let me know what y’alls fave song is from this album or Jonghyun’s other solo music.

This was such a long post omgggg. I’ll be back with June and July’s best comebacks and debut posts next, then it’s back to some “throwback” posts.

Until then,

Take care!

Ash🐙

3 thoughts on “Era Review: Base by Jonghyun”

  1. I randomly came across your review. I love it! I’m totally going to have to re-listen to the album. I know I was more into listening to his She Is and OPs, that I didn’t listen to this one as much besides the odd song here and there.

  2. This randomly popped up on my suggestions but I enjoyed reading this because I first watched them back in 2011 and fell in love ever since. SHINee was my first favorite group and Jonghyun was my first bias. I absolutely love them now and forever.

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