SHINee is SM Entertainment’s most ‘extreme’ group. With the crux of Ring Ding Dong, a song that drives like crazy all along, their songs have been the fastest in SM, and their dance moves the fiercest as the members do a tremendous amount of motion from beginning to end. If you can’t believe it, watch SHINee in casual outfits practice Sherlock dance in the practice room. Dancing without having to sing live, they move almost like beasts. As we know so well, however, SHINee is a male group with the tenderest image in SM. They were ‘shiny’ from their group name, and the members wearing ‘pretty boy’ outfits made by stylist Ha Sangbaek sang “Noona Is So Pretty.”
Extreme in Anything
Pretty younger brothers in a company full of charismatic ‘oppas’ to fans since H.O.T., or idols on stage in outfits that seem to be made for a fashion magazine. SHINee, a self-called ‘contemporary’ group, debuted to follow the trends of the time. Their songs and dance, however, advance SM’s peculiar style to its extreme end. ‘Sherlock’, a song combining the good parts of two different songs into one and the members moving from left to right as in 3D, is an extreme of SMP (a term for SM style music and performance). The group’s content is an extreme of SM, but its outward expression reflects popular trends. In the group coexist soccer mania Minho and fashionista Key. SHINee is something like SM’s laboratory.
The image on the jacket of SHINee’s new album, <The Misconceptions of You>, looks like SHINee’s image projected by the public as the title implies. Members’ images and several accessories form someone’s face. The jacket image is the most sophisticated among SM groups, and each member has a distinct personality. They are extreme in every area, the group name, performance, fashion, even Taemin’s slim body. If any of these grabs your eyes, you become a SHINee ‘deokoo’ (a slang for passionate fan). But it is hard to pick one image which can explain the group intuitively to the public. What SHINee needed was being easier rather than doing better, finding a solid axis to hold the various aspects of SHINee together–something like the mic stand in ‘Dream Girl.’
In ‘Dream Girl,’ SHINee wear suits of different styles and sing with mic stands. The group’s colorful feel maintained, the suits and mic stands deliver a more clear image of the group. Their fashion is still flashy but more of one team; their dance is fierce but with points for the public. Other members in certain dance motion form a background while a member is doing his solo dance part–this has become SHINee’s style from ‘Lucifer’ through ‘Sherlock. However, their dance for ‘Dream Girl’ is made of big and lively moves rather than minute hand motion. It is more focused on the other members playing the role of background for the member doing his solo part than on the complex and restless progress of moves. Their technique is advanced as they play freely with mic stands, but the way of showing it to the public is now easier and clearer.
Your and My Conceptions of SHINee
As the title ‘The Misconceptions of You’ suggests, the songs in the album reflect SHINee’s images conceived of by the public. SHINee’s style confirmed since ‘Juliette’ is to drive on in a crazy speed with a combination of funky sound and a vocal style like that of an idol group version of Michael Jackson. The percussion-like sound,used in the opening of ‘AMIGO’ and ‘Ring Ding Dong,’ remains in ‘Dream Girl’ like a symbol. But funky guitar sound makes an axis of ‘Dream Girl’ to balance with thin and light synthesizer sounds. If TVXQ is a group of weight, SHINee is one of speed. Songs, including ‘Dream Girl,’ in <The Misconceptions of You> are light and speedy. Their melody goes fast and slow following funky rhythm leading to a refrain lively and sparkling like carbonated water. SHINee’s title songs–’Ring Ding Dong,’ ‘Lucifer,’ ‘Sherlock’–form a performance trilogy to be recorded in the history of male idol groups but rather powerful, complicated, and difficult for a team named ‘SHINee’. ‘Dream Girl’ is lightest, intuitive, and easy while its making process is elaborate.
‘Dream Girl’ looks like balancing rather than completion of SHINee. SHINee has been hard to define, which could be a strong or weak point. They still have different colors, which are now more neatly arranged. SM merged what they can do best into what the pubic wants from SHINee. At a press conference for SHINee’s new album, Key said, “It is a new attempt for us to do it more easily. Our previous songs were difficult, but we aim to make it more lively and accessible.” As Key said, SHINee and SM maintain their identity and approach the public sentiment and trends, the self-defined ‘contemporary.’ In <SHINee’s One Fine Day> aired on MBC Music, members appear as young men watching soccer games on streets, not idols on stage. When ‘idol’ has become ‘I+doll,’ SHINee walk out into the streets as shy or lively young men instead of becoming shiny idols. SNSD’s ‘Gee’ or Super Junior’s ‘Sorry Sorry’ showed that SM can make a song accessible. However, not a song but the whole group of SHINee is approaching to the public. SM has made a significant move for the 2010s.
And SHINee’s <The Misconceptions of Me> is due out in April. As implied in the title, this album will present music as conceived of by SHINee or SM. ‘Dream Girl’ is the most public-appealing among SHINee’s songs, but not a mega hit. But it is certain that the song has broadened the contact surface between SHINee and the public, and someone whose eyes are drawn to any of SHINee’s song, performance, fashion, or nice figures will become a ‘Sha-deok’ (=SHINee deokoo). They maintain their fandom but don’t give up on the public; their growth is slow but with a distinct color. 5th year is a time some sunbae groups started declining. However, SHINee seem to be advancing toward their first climax only now. Indeed, there is nothing common with them.
Written by Kang Myoungseok (former editor of 10 Asia) / Trans by jujugal
*The translation may not be 100% accurate.
*The writer is a music critic well-known to music fans for his deep and meticulous analysis of music and respect for good music and musicians.
*I wanted to translate this column because I can sense how the writer respects SHINee’s music with a clear understanding of what they are doing with Dream Girl