It’s Friday, so let’s round out the week with a, gasp, boy group video. Or, to be more accurate, a man group video. To put it succinctly (and give you a TLDR version of this review right off the bat)”Sniper” is a video that allows Shinhwa’s to shine by getting out of the damn way and letting the veterans handle their business in a calm yet foreboding manner that balances out incredibly well.
There is a deliberateness to “Sniper” that is especially fitting given the song’s title. The beat thumps along with all the inevitably of a booming metronome and low electric thuds are contrasted wonderfully with a playful yet ominous whistle that sounds voyeuristic in the best way possible. In many ways, the production borrows many of the same tricks that worked for Brown Eyed Girls’ excellent “Kill Bill” as “Sniper” wisely keeps a heavy beat from becoming dreary through a nice dash of whimsical whistling and assured vocal performances.
There’s no “wow” vocal moment in “Sniper” but that’s entirely fine because the beat is already so dense. Instead, Shinhwa understands that they don’t need to prove anything to anyone on “Sniper.” Their resumes have long been secure. Every member sings and raps with purpose but there’s no “reaching” or extension of range. While that would usually be a point of criticism, it works due to Shinhwa’s ability to insert some enjoyably stylized suffocating swagger (the synthesized “Whoa-ooo-ooh’s” are great in this regard). The group’s confidence shines through the hard-hitting bass and percussion and that’s all that “Sniper” needs to be successful.
The video is a standard dance-in-a-box affair but it’s well-made. The sets, aside from the choreography set, are dynamic and look great – from the museum exhibit which is snowing (?) to the kitchen from hell, each set has plenty to enjoy visually. Blue light dominates “Sniper” which allows the group’s red ensembles to pop without the need of any super-outrageous outfits or gimmicks that a younger group may have had to rely on here. The perfunctory dress and choreography (by K-Pop standards) could have come off as lackluster but through the combination of “Sniper’s” determined beat and Shinhwa’s self-assured performances, “Sniper” manages to impress.
If it is possible for a song to prove that a group can age with grace, “Sniper” is it. It is a single which could have had many pratfalls. It could have been tempting to up the menacing nature of the beat with more theatrical vocals but Shinhwa smartly avoids that because there’s something much more thrilling at being on edge than having a threat constantly shoved in your face. The video could have gone way too literal with its theme but the steely-coldness of “Sniper’s” direction is far more effective in evoking danger than camo pants. The more measured performances of “Sniper” serve multiple purposes as it demonstrates Shinhwa’s undeniable cool and it gives the song an edge that doesn’t let up for its run time. “Sniper” hits its mark (and there’s the pun that I tried so damn hard to avoid).