Fifteen years in the industry, K-pop boy band SHINee are still ahead of their time. In fact, they’ve always been, since their early days.
Recounting a moment from the 2015 Dream Concert when the quintet was performing View (2015) with members dressed in sleeveless tops and jorts, they recalled they felt out of place. But ask anyone on the streets now, and they’ll tell you jorts are in trend.
It is not only their fashion that was avant-garde, their music has been experimental in its own right.
Their new concert film, My SHINee World, accurately and succinctly portrays that. Taking fans down memory lane in a chronological fashion from their debut in 2008 to the present, it splices snippets from their various concerts, with members Key, Taemin and Minho reflecting on their journey thus far.
Trainee days, long-awaited debut
It all started in 2008 with their debut track Replay (2008). But SHINee’s journey started much before that, tracing back to when they were still trainees under SM Entertainment. Though their trainee lives were not specifically detailed, members touched on it briefly.
Then came their debut day, a day that would still vividly be “right in front of my eyes,” said Taemin. A group of fans greeted them after their filming, and they were waving balloons, as there was no light stick then.
SHINee moved on to something different musically with Juliette (2009), a song that Key said he’s still proud of now.
The 7th year curse, and finding their identities
As SHINee got mainstream attention, they also pushed out many other tracks along the way, like Hitchhiking (2013) and Everybody (2013). While they have more or less solidified their status in the industry, their journey thereafter did not come without challenges.
Speaking about the infamous 7th-year curse, where it is commonly thought that K-pop groups would disband after seven years, member Minho joked that the curse vanished with SHINee.
However, they were faced with other challenges along the way, where members struggled to find their identities.
15 years on, now’s the real start of SHINee
What really stood out for me in the film, other than the adrenaline-filled live concert clips, was the visual representation of how their fans, affectionately known as Shawols, grew up with them. Earlier in the film, we see a teenage girl playing their songs on her iPod as she navigates through her schooling years.
As they recounted their story nearer to the present, the girl appears in office wear, listening to her AirPods, presumably playing SHINee’s songs too.
That’s the power the group has, I realised, to accompany their fans through life’s different stages — to inspire, motivate and cheer fans on. And it seems to be a mutual relationship for the boys of SHINee.
“I love doing concerts the most, because of the fan chants, the screams, and just seeing our fans in person,” member Minho said. “That’s the biggest driving force that gives me strength,” he added.
Now, it is “just the start of SHINee,” the band said at their recent sixth concert tour named Perfect Illumination. “If you trust and wait for us, we will repay you with more performances,” they promised.
Many K-pop idols have dropped their concert films and documentaries. It’s heartwarming, though, to take a trip down memory lane with the boys of SHINee, one of K-pop’s biggest music maestros, as they walk fans through their hit tracks, recounts and more.
In the 112-minute film, there’s a perfect balance of concert content and introspection. Because of what they’ve been through, whether individually or as a band altogether, it makes their perspective very heartwarming and emotional.
SHINee, quite a household name in itself because of their earworms back in the 2010s, are not resting on their laurels. They continue to experiment with music, like in their latest release Hard (2023), and there’s much to look forward to from one of K-pop’s longest-standing groups.