SHINee – not your typical idol boy band

We round up 8 different ways the boyband has broken out from the typical idol mold

SHINee – not your typical idol boy band
SHINee – not your typical idol boy band
21 May 2016

SHINee – not your typical idol boy band

From being one of the youngest groups in the industry when they debuted (youngest member Taemin was just 14 when the group debuted in 2008) to pushing the boundaries with their quirky stage concepts and dances, SHINee has been carving out their own unique spot in the ranks of Korean superstardom from the start.

With the group’s eighth anniversary happening tomorrow, we take a look at other instances where SHINee has broken what is accepted as ‘typical boyband behaviour’.

Photo: SM Entertainment

The first facet - Age
The first facet - Age
21 May 2016

The first facet - Age

What were you doing when you were 14? While many of us would have answered studying or out playing with friends, SHINee’s Taemin was already out making his mark in the world. In 2008, Taemin debuted as the youngest member and dancing machine of the boyband SHINee, capturing the hearts of older fans around the world.

At the time of his debut, Taemin made waves (and broke records) for being the youngest male idol in Korea (labelmate BoA took the crown for the youngest female, having debuted at 13 in 2000). In the course of 8 years, the shy mushroom-haired lad has blossomed into a confident performer who can hold his own as a solo artiste, with two solo albums under his belt.

Not bad for a ‘scrawny teen’, eh?

Photo: SM Entertainment

The second facet - Performance
The second facet - Performance
21 May 2016

The second facet - Performance

You name it, and they’ll do it. The quintet first drew attention for their dance in the 2009 hit song ‘Ring Ding Dong’, and then upped the ante with 2010’s ‘Lucifer’. Now, under the guidance of choreographer Tony Testa, SHINee has gone on to impersonate detectives and even dancing robots - complete with a propeller-powered human machine (and by propellers, we mean leader Onew’s pinwheeling arms) in their songs ‘Sherlock’, and ‘Everybody’. After his stint as a pair of propellers, Onew managed to gain the power of flight in the group’s latest title track, ‘Married to the Music’, where he was literally swept off his feet by four backup dancers, and hoisted up to ‘fly’, all while singing.

SHINee’s musical offerings do not pale in comparison to their complex choreography as well, in case you were wondering. Long hailed as their company’s “experimental group”, SHINee has constantly released new and innovative songs and music videos to complement their dances, with ‘Sherlock’ being a mix of two different (and thematically-named) songs, ‘Clue’ and ‘Note’. In ‘Married to the Music’, the group played with the theme of horror and re-created a horror film in the music video, with the members literally losing their bodies in the admittedly unnerving, but weirdly upbeat video.

Photo: SM Entertainment

The third facet – Mutual Respect
The third facet – Mutual Respect
21 May 2016

The third facet – Mutual Respect

No idol fanmeet or concert is complete without the pre-requisite of shoving and screaming from fans trying their best to gain the attention of their favourite member.

In Korea, however, Shawols (the official name for SHINee’s fans) are often known for their calm and respectful behaviour, even in the presence of their favourite oppas. This respect is manifested during fanmeets and concerts in Korea where fans basically self-regulate and create their own lines that they will not cross, resulting in a very calm meeting with the group. Yes, we’re not lying. You can indeed see your favourite Korean idol group without being squeezed or shouted at.

The calm behaviour of the fans has its perks too, with increased fan interaction.

As a result of the fans’ calm behaviour, the relationship and trust between SHINee and them are visibly different, with the members happily perching on a stool in public to chat with the fans when their schedules are delayed. Member Jonghyun also willingly stuck his head into a crowd of fans during a concert once, to get close to the fans.

Photo: SM Entertainment

The fourth facet – Social Media
The fourth facet – Social Media
21 May 2016

The fourth facet – Social Media

In the realm of Korean idolatry, social media is often used by the stars to post updates about their lives, or maybe to thank the fans collectively for their support. Once in a blue moon, some idols might take it a step further and reply a couple of fans, but SHINee’s Key went even further than that.

Two years ago, trilingual Key (he’s fluent in Korean, Japanese and English) left a comment on a photo of a fan whose scars from self-harming were visible, urging her to stop doing so. The comment, which was posted entirely in English, not only encouraged the fan to stop self-harming but also shared the singer’s own personal experience when he was younger, which alluded to the fact that he used to self-harm as well. Key’s comment then started going viral, with many commending him for what he had done. But that’s not all! The 24-year-old also kept his word, and checked up on the same fan a year later, showing his continuous support for her when he liked a picture she had posted to update everyone on her progress.

Photo: SM Entertainment

The fifth facet – Personal Opinions
The fifth facet – Personal Opinions
21 May 2016

The fifth facet – Personal Opinions

Another member of SHINee who believes in using social media not just for trite updates and fantalk is Jonghyun. This 26-year-old might be the shortest of the group, standing at 1.74m, but he sure isn’t afraid of speaking up for what he believes in! A large majority of those in the entertainment industry skirt around controversial topics relating to politics and the like, but not Jonghyun. The singer has taken to his personal Twitter account a number of times to state his stand on such issues. On Twitter, Jonghyun has shown his opposition to the government’s controversial education policy, which sought to allow the country’s children to enter school a year earlier to boost birth rates, as well as his support for the sexual minorities in Korea.

Much like any new-age activist worth their salt, the idol has also engaged in a few discussions regarding his beliefs with a few other social activists online, especially when he was accused of being a misogynist. Instead of flaring up or making a token apology, Jonghyun sought to directly message one of the many feminists who were criticising him, and engaged in a long discussion where the two tried to understand each other’s point of view. Kudos to Jonghyun for his level-headed activism.

Photo: SM Entertainment

The sixth facet – Trend-setters
The sixth facet – Trend-setters
21 May 2016

The sixth facet – Trend-setters

What would you wear to a Halloween party?

For SM Entertainment’s artistes, the answer used to be everyday clothes, with a couple of cat ears or masks thrown in.

For SHINee, the answer was (and still is) go big or go home.

Back in 2013, the entertainment company held their first Halloween party, where SHINee dressed to impress with their costumes, only to find out that they were the only ones in costume.

Fast forward to a year later, and everyone seemed to have taken their cues from SHINee, and dressed to kill as well, setting a tradition for future parties to come.

Photo: SM Entertainment

Special Mention: 2015's dancefloor battle between Key (Ronald McDonald) and Onew (Colonel Sanders)
Special Mention: 2015's dancefloor battle between Key (Ronald McDonald) and Onew (Colonel Sanders)
21 May 2016

Special Mention: 2015's dancefloor battle between Key (Ronald McDonald) and Onew (Colonel Sanders)

Last year, SHINee’s Key and Onew upped the ante yet again, when they turned up as Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders respectively, and even duked it out on the dance floor, with “Ronald” grabbing at “Colonel Sanders” to instigate the fight, much to the amusement of everyone else.

Photos: Key/Instagram

The seventh facet – Physical Adversity
The seventh facet – Physical Adversity
21 May 2016

The seventh facet – Physical Adversity

Two years ago, leader Onew backed out abruptly from his schedules to undergo vocal polyps surgery, a condition that he had been battling for six months. The singer had not said anything about his condition after his recovery six months later, but eventually let out that he had been unable to sing or even talk for three months after his operation.

At that point in time, the main vocal was faced with the possibility of losing his singing prowess, as well as his livelihood, something that has affected other singers who underwent similar surgeries.

However, the 26-year-old eventually stayed strong in the face of adversity, and powered through the ordeal. With the help of his industry seniors, Onew learnt how to sing again, all within three months, and is now back to performing regularly as the leader and main vocal of the group.

Photo: SM Entertainment

8. The eighth facet – Personal Ambitions
8. The eighth facet – Personal Ambitions
21 May 2016

8. The eighth facet – Personal Ambitions

While Minho was always praised for his good looks and height, the 24-year-old faced strong opposition in everything else he tried. At one point, the singer was panned for his poor performance in everything, from rapping to acting. However, Minho continued to practise and work hard in his rapping and acting, never giving up.

The naturally athletic lad (his father is a renowned soccer coach and former professional soccer player) made use of his sporting prowess to achieve success in the different variety shows focused on sports, breaking a number of records in the idol sporting world while at it.

In the meantime, Minho was constantly practising his rapping, by writing his own lyrics and spending long hours in the practice rooms perfecting his skills, and his acting as well, dabbling in a couple of dramas, and even landing the lead role in the 2012 drama, To the Beautiful You, where he played a disillusioned high-jump athlete.

Today, the 24-year-old has improved by leaps and bounds from his previous self, and has even garnered praise for his role in the drama, Medical Top Team.

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