Name: Lee Taemin (이태민)
Born: July 18, 1993
Blood Type: B
Height: 5’ 10”
Favorite Colors: White, yellow (color Taemin was assigned at first concert), red, blue
Languages: Korean, Japanese
Born/Raised: Seoul, South Korea
Fan Given Names: 역솔남 (Yeoksolnam / Legendary Solo Man), Magic Hand, Dancing Machine, Korea’s Michael Jackson, TaeMAN, Taeminnie, Fairy Prince
EARLY DAYS/EDUCATION/SM TRAINEE YEARS
It’s hard to separate Taemin’s schooling from his trainee days since unlike a lot of idols, Taemin spent much of his school years going back and forth between SM & school. Taemin attended Chungdam High School before transferring to Hanlim Multi Art School while working as SHINee (graduated 2012). He later went on to study at Myongji University as a musical and film major (attended 2013-2017?). In interviews, Taemin has said that he started dancing when he was around 10 years old after seeing Michael Jackson’s “lean forward” move in “Smooth Criminal”. Because Taemin’s mom knew he loved to dance, she recommended that Taemin audition to be a trainee at SM’s “2005 S.M. Open Weekend Audition Casting”. She said that if he got in, he wouldn’t have to go to cram school [hagwon]. He made it and became a trainee during grade 6 at age 13 (Korean age).
As a trainee, Taemin practiced dancing almost non-stop, building his skills so he could dance on any surface – including moonwalking on concrete while on the way to the bus stop. Taemin said that while leading up to debut he didn’t receive the vocal lessons that other trainees had because he was so young that his voice was still breaking. If he had trained his vocals seriously then, they could have been damaged. One of the songs that he practiced a lot during his trainee days was Yoo Hee Yeol’s “That I Was Once By Your Side” (There’s an old video of Jonghyun singing it as a trainee too). Taemin talked during 4 Things Show about times where he secretly stayed all night in the SM practice rooms, practicing until dawn, with fellow trainee EXO’s Kai even though the building closed at 9-10pm. It was during this time period as a trainee that Taemin also started learning piano (at 13 years old). He learned naturally in the industry instead of training formally (Blue Night 2014). In total, Taemin was a trainee for 3-4 years during his middle school years. During the variety program “Off To School” Taemin said that he didn’t really get to enjoy much of his student career because he spent it busily either training or being in SHINee.
“If you want to achieve something, you have to sacrifice something else.” – Taemin, Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook (2009)
Taemin first debuted with SHINee as their main dancer. When he was first chosen to be in SHINee, Taemin said that he protested it a lot because he felt he was too young and not ready. He imagined that he would debut with kids closer to his age. To this day, he’s still one of the youngest idols to debut in Korea. The SHINee members were all hyungs (older friends) he trained with prior to debut.
Vocally, Taemin learned how to sing after debut as mentioned before. It’s assumed he had vocal trainers he worked with at SM but he also mentioned practicing with both Onew & Jonghyun, Taemin’s dorm roommate. With SHINee’s first single, “Replay”, Taemin had a solo dance but his vocals were not prominently featured on the track. He said that he originally did have a part but it was edited out in the production process. After being told “Your voice shouldn’t stand out,” he decided from that point on to work hard to be an artist whose voice SM would need (iheartradio). Over the years Taemin built up his voice, appearing on shows like Immortal Song (2012) and doing collaborations with other artists: Henry “Trapped”, BoA “Only One”, OSTs “U” & “Steps”. Taemin’s first major solo performance was for SHINee’s first SHINee World Concert where he performed a solo version of SHINee’s ‘Romeo + Juliette’. For SHINee World II, his solo performance was a cover of Korn’s “Get Up”. Another of his more notable solo performances pre-solo debut was a song Taemin wrote with his brother for SMTown Week 2013 called “Cry for Me”. The song would become a good precursor for what his future work as a soloist would look like.
For Taemin’s dance contributions, while it’s possible that Taemin assisted with choreography modifications for some of SHINee’s songs, the only confirmed songs that he participated in SHINee’s choreography for were 2013’s “Dream Girl” and 2016’s “Tell Me What To Do”. Taemin said that the 2 most memorable moments while being in SHINee were the first Tokyo Dome performances & the daesang (Artist of the Year) award they won in 2013 at Melon Music Awards.
When talking about his solo career, Taemin said that the members have always genuinely supported his ambitions. When he first started out, he said that he had comfort in knowing that even if he failed, he always had a home to return to with SHINee. When comparing “SHINee’s Taemin” to “Solo Taemin”, Taemin said that together, SHINee is able to express a broader range of colors because the members are unique and the blending of them together makes something new. “Solo Taemin” has a more pronounced color that’s his own perspective. The SHINee members describe each other as family and often their own families go to each others’ solo events (Jonghyun and Onew attended Taemin’s first solo concert, Minho attended his second concert, and Key visited him during his practices for his second solo concert). For Taemin especially, he grew up with the members around him since before his debut at age 14 and was doted on equally by everyone.
“An odd/ strange person…!? I don’t really know it myself, but I heard quite a lot people around me say so.” (S Cawaii 2016) Taemin’s personality is one of the most fascinating in SHINee because his on-stage persona (strong and fierce) and off-stage persona (cute, bright, and easily embarrassed) are wildly different. This “switch” is a charm that captivates many fans. Off stage, he keeps a lot to himself and does his best to keep his private life out of the spotlight. He didn’t have a public social media account until 2019, which he opened for his fans on his 26th birthday. For his overall personality type, it’s easiest to describe Taemin today as a well-adjusted introvert. To quote him, he has said that he’s not an introvert but definitely is a person who needs time to himself. (Arena Homme 2016) While it’s pretty unusual for him to be the center of attention in a group, he has amazingly witty one-liners that will KO any conversation. He spends a lot of his personal time with his small circle of celebrity friends and he doesn’t reveal many details about his family or home life.
Although he’s joked in recent years that age has made him cry more/be more sensitive, it used to be that he was the maknae-who-never-cried among hyungs who cried after every concert tour. Debuting at 14, you can watch him grow with confidence throughout all of the years he spent in front of a camera. Taemin is definitely one of the hardest working idols at SM. A lot of SHINee’s labelmates describe Taemin as being perfectly suited for the idol industry because of his diligence and hungry attitude towards career growth. He’s often called a workaholic & perfectionist by those around him – something he agrees with while recounting all of the extra time he spends in the practice room. When asked about how he perceives his own work, it’s rare for him to express satisfaction because he always wants to make his work better. Because of his vast and impressive improvement over the years as a vocalist – going from someone who could barely sing to being one of Korea’s most talented soloists – Taemin is known by fans as being a “genius of hard work”. When preparing for a concert, Taemin usually practices for 10 hours a day for about a month and he also watches video replays taken by staff after each of his performances to check for better ways to perform.
Concerning his image, Taemin has long been known for being a “male idol who was prettier than female idols”. This was especially talked about during Sherlock era when he had long hair. This image made him uncomfortable because he was still young and growing and wanted to be seen as more “manly” or grown up. With his current solos, it’s hard to picture him that way since he’s perfectly captured a middle ground between what’s considered a masculine & feminine appearance. When he’s not promoting, Taemin is quick to adopt hair colors that blend in with Korean society because he doesn’t like to stand out on the street (assumed in order to protect his privacy).
Taemin has steadily learned Japanese over the years while promoting as SHINee & solo. He often cites anime as one of the ways that he practices the language. Some of his favorites are: Dragonball (his “life pick” animation), One Piece, films by Shinkai Makoto & Hayao Miyazaki. Lately he’s expressed an interest in the Netflix sci-fi drama “Stranger Things” while studying English and he’s also mentioned that he loves Marvel films.
Hilariously, Taemin is wildly afraid of flying insects and has a tendency to lose anything he touches (he’s called “magic hand” for this reason). SHINee members say that Taemin has seen ghosts in the training rooms when he was younger. He loves horror movies and is an overall thrill seeker (skydiving, roller coasters, scuba diving, etc.). He’s not the type who’s scared of jump scares. Taemin is also quite clever and is described as someone who thinks outside the box/thinks differently from others. Taemin famously can’t cook. His friends have said that he’s both bad at it and has no interest in doing it. If Taemin had not become a singer, he said that he would have been a pilot and enlisted early (most Korean men do their mandatory military service after high school, before settling into careers). To destress, Taemin says that he likes to travel with his friends to places where he can get a lot of fresh air – usually doing physical activities like skiing or scuba diving. He also often gets a new ear piercing when stressed (he has had no more than 10 total as of 2017).
“In this life, the word ‘effort’ didn’t pave my way. I have my own standard of working hard, but to appeal to other people with it is something I don’t really like – telling people ‘I put in this much effort’. …Because whoever it is, people work hard on everything to be in the place they are now.”
– Taemin, 4 Things Show (2014)
ARTISTRY (Music / Dance)
Although Taemin is not an artist that often writes his own songs, he is heavily involved in the production of his albums. He starts by meticulously going through the demos available at SM (sometimes 100 of them) and choosing songs that he can imagine himself performing. Taemin has said that his preferred genre of music isn’t one that’s easily relatable for fans and for that reason he works with his staff a lot to find a middle ground that he and fans can both enjoy. (Grazia 2019) In the past, Taemin has shown a preference for hard rock: Linkin Park & Korn. One of the things that Taemin loves to include in his music is guitar instrumentals – often choosing songs that have an attractive guitar melody. At his request the guitar part was added to “Press Your Number” and he even used a live band for his Off-Sick concert. As a songwriter, Taemin has penned lyrics to “Press Your Number”, “Soldier” & “Day & Night” and additionally worked with the other SHINee members on writing the lyrics to 2018’s “Sunny Side” & “Our Page”. As a vocalist, Taemin’s voice has always been attractively breathy, but over the course of his artistic career he’s widened his range and strength dramatically (Ex: Romeo + Juliette 2011 / Sayonara Hitori 2016 ). Also it’s worth noting that Taemin plays piano by ear exceptionally well (V Live+ Ep. 1) and he occasionally performs covers of popular piano pieces like Yiruma’s “The River Flows In You” & Hideaki Tokunaga’s “Rainy Blue”.
Taemin’s music videos are often described as theatrical, dramatic, & artistic. Taemin himself describes his artistry as one that “draws a picture. Music that when you hear it activates your imagination.” His music is heavily performance-focused – meaning Taemin’s music is not complete without watching his performances – a true showman! Taemin himself captures simultaneously a dual essence of femininity & masculinity in his appearance and performances. He said that since his slim figure is one that’s well suited for being a dancer, it isn’t one that naturally comes off as being masculine. Because of that, he chooses a presentation that takes advantage of his image that’s a bit more androgynous than most. (10Asia 2019) Lately, he’s been working with female choreographer Koharu Sugawara (“Sayonara Hitori”, “Flame of Love”, “MOVE”, “WANT”, “Good Evening”) who he credits for helping him realize the unique image we have of him today. (The Korea Herald)
Taemin’s dance can be described as an elegant and fluid modern dance that also incorporates a lot of popping and locking. He’s constantly improving his skills & learning new tricks – like B-Boy moves. When dancing, Taemin says he doesn’t just do a set of movements, but figures out the meaning behind why certain movements are happening at specific points in the song in an attempt to express a character – much like acting. When asked what he thinks about while performing [in order to achieve such an intense image that sharply contrasts his bright personality], Taemin simply said that he just immerses himself in the song and whatever expression is on his face is what he’s feeling. He said the feeling for him is “sort of like spacing out but it’s hard to describe”. There are also often times that he’ll include improvised dancing in his choreography – especially during song openings & endings.
As a choreographer, Taemin has mentioned participating in “Dream Girl, “Tell Me What To Do”, “Guess Who”, “Day & Night” & “Artistic Groove” (and probably many others). Here are some dance covers that he choreographed in 2018: “Closer” & “Leave the Light On”. Even when he doesn’t do the choreography officially, he is often a part of the creative process. A good example of this are the many changes that were made to “Day and Night” – sometimes changes were made on a daily basis because Taemin was unsatisfied.
Taemin said that he would like to create a “Taemin Genre”, like Michael Jackson, where the person comes before the music and isn’t tied to a specific genre. The person is the embodiment of the music – where the music becomes background to the person “Taemin”. Because performance is such an important facet for him, he wants to show who he is in front of everything else.
- Taemin’s Music Industry Inspirations: Rain, Michael Jackson, Sia, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Jaurim’s Kim Yoon Ah, BoA, Chris Brown, Boyz II Men
It’s widely known and expressed often enough that Taemin is a Catholic (Christian) and he commonly wears a rosary bracelet and ring for good luck – assuming he hasn’t lost them. “진인사대천명 – Do your best and let the heavens do the rest,” is one of Taemin’s popular phrases. “ ‘Man proposes, God disposes.’ I think is right. Sometimes you try very hard but the results do not come out well. But I think if you try very hard without pressure, you will be rewarded for that someday.” – Taemin Sellev 2017
Since 2013, Taemin asked that fans give gifts on his birthday to people who need them instead of to himself. Because of that, fans often donate to charities in his name. With SHINee, Taemin has participated in quite a few charity projects for UNICEF ( “Together For Africa”, #HelpNepalChildren, “Make A Promise”, 2017 Gala). He also performed at Lee Dong Woo‘s 2018 concert series where proceeds went to suicide prevention charities and is a regular participant in the Shinin’ Foundation’s projects (Jonghyun’s family’s charity).
“Taemin’s Motto: You must love yourself properly.” – Taemin, Kangta’s Starry Night (170810)
Taemin has said he does have a desire to act, but for now he wants to settle into his career as a singer first. (Grazia 2015) The most recent of his dramas is a J-Drama called “Final Life” that can be watched on Amazon Prime. Other Korean dramas that he’s filmed as a guest appearance are: Hilarious Housewives, Athena: Goddess of War, Moon Night ’90, High Kick! 3, Salamander Guru and The Shadows, & Dating Agency: Cyrano. He has also made solo appearances on these popular variety shows: Dream Team, Immortal Songs 2, We Got Married, Match Made in Heaven Returns, Off to School, Hit the Stage, The Unit, & Why Not? The Dancer. So far, Taemin has won 2 MBC entertainment awards for “Star of the Year” in the variety category (2013 & 2014). To date, he has participated in just one musical, “Goong” (2014).
1st Korean EP: ACE (2014)
Taemin was the first SM group member to have a solo debut while still promoting as a group member. Since solo debuts were so rare at SM, Taemin said he took the opportunity very seriously and humbly. Lee Sooman told him to record a song as homework (Taemin chose Ne-Yo’s “Sexy Love”) and not long after, he was given the opportunity to release a solo album. For Taemin’s first album, he said that the company made the song choices and he didn’t have as much input compared to what he would have with later albums. With his first album Taemin wanted to create an image sharply different from what the public knew him as through SHINee, but he was also worried about turning away fans who liked his cute maknae image.
His title track “Danger” was first premiered at SMTown in Seoul days before the album was released. “Danger” was choreographed by Ian Eastwood – who also went on to choreograph SHINee’s “View” the following year. With “Danger”, Taemin won his first music show and went on popular programs like “Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook”, Blue Night Interview w/ Jonghyun, Running Man (Ep. 209), & 4 Things Show (Official Clip). A few other songs of note from the album are “Pretty Boy” & “Ace”. “Pretty Boy” was written by Jonghyun with Taemin’s input about wanting to break free from his “pretty boy” image. This song was performed with his best friend, EXO’s Kai. Another notable collaboration is the song “Ace” which was written by TVXQ’s Changmin (the song includes Changmin’s background vocals) and the song had a separate music video. Overall, the EP is a very good reflection of the type of musicality that Taemin would end up building on in future albums: ranging from modern dance tracks to RnB and acoustic ballads.
‘ACE’ was an incredibly well received album for him, earning him 2 Popularity Awards in Korea (Golden Disk & Seoul Music Awards) as well as 1 Bonsang (sales award) at the Golden Disk Awards. To date, the album has sold just under 100,000 copies. On Billboard, “ACE” was #20 Heatseekers, #2 World Albums, & #4 World Digital Song Sales.
1st Korean Full Album: PRESS IT (2016)
“Press It” was Taemin’s first full length Korean solo album released in early 2016 – about 1.5 years after his first solo EP “ACE”. The album features dual title tracks “Press Your Number” & “Drip Drop” whose MVs were both filmed in Los Angeles. “Press Your Number” was a Bruno Mars written demo track that Taemin participated in the lyric writing for with 2 other writers. He said it was a track that had been at SM for a long time and had originally been for SHINee (but didn’t work out) before it was placed with Taemin. The choreographies for “Press Your Number” & “Drip Drop” were done by Just Jerk’s Young J & Choi J Ho (Just Jerk were his backup dancers for both Press It & Danger). You can see them dancing with Taemin on Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook.
Taemin said that “Press It” is an album where his thoughts are more reflected (compared to “Ace”). Often times SM produces albums with a “concept” but Taemin wanted to make songs with a more personal feel. He personally handpicked all of the songs for “Press It” and contributed to the choreography. In addition to “Press Your Number”, Taemin also wrote the lyrics (fully) to “Soldier” and described it as a song he wanted people to listen to from the album. Another popular track from this album is “Already” which was written by Jonghyun for Taemin. Jonghyun also wrote “Cocktail” for this album but Taemin didn’t feel it was a good fit for him. Jonghyun ended up putting it on his own album “She Is”. Taemin picked “One By One” for fans as a message of wanting to get to know fans.
This album sold over 100,000 copies and won him “Best Solo Dance Performance” at MAMA and a Bonsang (sales award) at the Golden Disk Awards 2017. Some of his most notable performances were from MAMA and Dream Concert 2016 & 2017. On Billboard, “Press It” earned Taemin #7 Heatseekers, #2 World Albums, #31 Independent Albums, & #3 World Digital Song Sales with over 1,000 copies sold.
- Blue Night Interview w/ Jonghyun, V App Showcase, Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook, SNL Korea, Dream Concert
1st Japanese EP: Sayonara Hitori (2016)
Following his success with “Press It”, Taemin’s next project took him to Japan where he made his Japanese solo debut with his EP ‘Sayonara Hitori’. The album was released around the same time as his 23rd birthday and many later Japanese releases would also fall around this time of year for him. For his first EP, Taemin focused on an “oriental” concept with a dance that highlighted emotional expressions. This was his first time working with Koharu Sugawara who he would continue collaborating with on future releases. With her choreography, Taemin said this was his first time working with a more androgenous albeit powerful choreography.
About the album, Taemin said that he recorded it with songs while thinking ahead to potential stage performances he could show. The album was recorded in Japanese with his Japanese production staff. For the title track, Taemin said that the lyrics are open to interpretation but he personally felt it was a song about “walking your own way”. “Sekaide Ichiban Aishitahito” he described as a J-pop ballad that he especially liked and wanted to sing relatively plainly & candidly.
He debuted “Sayonara Hitori” at SMTown in Osaka, promoted the album on various Japanese radio & TV programs, held a private showcase for fans, and rounded out his promotions with a performance at A-Nation – one of Japan’s most popular music festivals. ‘Sayonara Hitori’ ranked #3 (both daily & weekly charts) on Oricon and was ranked the Oricon #88 album of the year! Physically, the album has sold almost 50,000 copies. The lead single ‘Sayonara Hitori’ was also released later that year as the Korean digital single “Goodbye” and was performed briefly on Korean music shows and dance program ‘Hit the Stage’ (with choreographer Koharu). The single has been received well in both Korea and Japan, with many Korean idols covering the song. On Billboard, “Goodbye” charted #14 on the World Digital Song Sales chart.
2nd Japanese EP: Flame of Love EP &
1st Solo Concert: Nippon Budokan (2017)
Taemin’s next project came a year later with the release of his 2nd Japanese EP “Flame of Love”. The music video was released on June 26th leading up to his first ever solo concert at Tokyo’s Budokan. The concert was performed for 2 days (July 1-2) to a sold out crowd of 28,000. A Behind the Scenes series was aired on V Live covering from Budokan to his next Korean project “MOVE” & “Off Sick”. Budokan was broadcast worldwide live online via Line Live nearly in full (cutting off the final song) and Line also aired a special Documentary of the concert. The venue stage at Budokan was a unique 360 degree stage and the concert showcased a very artsy production much like what we call “performance art”. To make the concert even more spectacular, staff had a scent made for the concert that was wafted through the venue and bottled for the fanclub limited edition DVD release. The concert was directed by Rino Nakasone (choreographer for SHINee’s “Replay”) and preparations were done simultaneously with shooting Taemin’s J-drama “Final Life”. You can read Taemin’s Model Press interview about Budokan here. When asked to describe which stage performance from Budokan Taemin would recommend, he said that he couldn’t pick one. Taemin said that he was really satisfied overall with the staging/direction of the concert and worked hard to live up to the great staging.
After Budokan, Taemin continued his promotions by performing at SMTown in Osaka & Tokyo. Simultaneously, he appeared on various TV and radio programs, but not as many during this promotional cycle as “Sayonara Hitori”. His “Flame of Love” EP was released on July 18th, Taemin’s birthday, and a birthday event/public radio broadcast was hosted for him by ON8＋1 Radio with Miyazaki Miho (AKB48) where 12,000 total fans attended in Osaka and Tokyo.
With “Flame of Love”, Taemin said that he wanted to work with choreographer Koharu Sugawara again and asked her to make a dance that would highlight the lyrics to “Flame of Love” well. Because the song is ballad-like, Taemin said it was more difficult to dance to and required more attention to emotional details. When asked to describe the difference between his Korean & Japanese releases, Taemin said that the Japanese releases are more emotional and his Korean releases tend to have more dance tracks. For “Flame of Love”, Taemin wanted to create an emotional expression that “only Taemin could perform”. About the other tracks, Taemin wanted “I’m Crying” on the album ever since the first time he heard it. “Do It Baby” is a song his manager recommended to him and “Door” was a song that expressed his deepest inner-most thoughts. “Itsuka Kokode” (Someday In This Place) is a song that expresses his relationship with fans.
“Flame of Love” was ranked #1 on Oricon daily (#2 weekly) and was the Oricon #83 album of 2017. Physically during its first week of release, “Flame of Love” sold over 59,000 copies according to Billboard Japan Soundscan (50,418 Oricon).
“[On grading himself] I’m not sure it’s something I could express in numbers. I can’t do it. I don’t want to set a limit for myself. I just believe that I can do much more… I hope this opportunity marks my true start and that I will be able to visit more and more fans from all over the world.” – Taemin, Budokan Documentary
2nd Korean Full Album: MOVE / MOVE-ing &
1st Korean Concert Tour: Off-Sick (2017)
Starting with “Flame of Love”, Taemin flowed right into Korean promotions in the Fall for his 2nd full length album “MOVE”. Taemin started by announcing his first Korean concert “Off-Sick” – named after the feeling of “being sick of what’s average or obvious” and using the catch phrase “Sick of it all”. The concert director this time was Hwang Sanghoon who had been working with SHINee since “Replay” and retired as an SM back-up dancer with Taemin’s “Danger”. For the concert, Taemin prepared a lot of remixes and showed new songs from his “MOVE” album. He performed with a live band (similar to some of SHINee’s Japanese concerts). The original show in August was sold out for 3 days with an attendance of 12,000, had an additional 2 day encore with an attendance of 20,000, and had 3 shows in Japan which brought an estimated 30,000 fans. You can see behind the scenes of Taemin’s concert preparations and “MOVE” recording on Vapp+’s “The Taemin: Xtra Cam”.
Unlike past releases, Taemin premiered “MOVE” at Seoul Fashion Week (Supercomma B). The MV was recorded with choreography once again by Koharu Sugawara and filmed in Chinatown in Korea. The duet dance MV was also with Taemin and Koharu. Koharu: “I really wanted to bring out a Taemin that was different from the previous two releases. I thought about it, and I thought that fans and everyone knew about Taemin who danced energetically, filled with energy so [I went for] something different; like Taemin’s androgynous sensuality (seductiveness), and/or making him appear somewhat feminine and mysterious even though he’s a man. Like [situated in] the middle? He’s dancing to “MOVE” coolly, but it doesn’t really matter if you’re a woman or a man.”
For MOVE’s choreography,Taemin wanted to have a simpler choreography where the energy was more inward/condensed with an understated sexuality. Taemin described “Move” as a dance that expresses self-love where the focus is more on expression than on choreography. It became a dance that had a lot of public appeal and sparked many covers by celebrities like Suzy, Twice, comedian Gookju, etc. The reaction of listeners swaying along with their own sensuality while listening to “Move” became popularly known as “Move Disease”. At this stage in his career, Taemin was a judge on “The Unit” and a lot of younger idols looked up to Taemin as their role model (“Taem-ddo-rol”).
For this album, Taemin wasn’t as involved with the composition & lyric writing, but he was very involved in the lyric selection process. As a whole, the album is more mature than his past releases. When showing the song selection to SM CEO Lee Sooman, Sooman suggested that “Love” be Taemin’s title track but Taemin said that “Move” would fit his image better and thus was chosen. The motif for “Rise” is based on the Greek mythology of Icarus. Taemin likened the lyrics about “rising toward the sun” to his ambitions as an artist and it was the song he used to open his “Off-Sick” concert. Taemin said with “MOVE” he felt like he was truly showing who he was.
For the repackage, “MOVE-ING”, Taemin prepared the title song “Day and Night” very quickly. Originally, the concert rearrangement of “Hypnosis” was going to be chosen for the title track but Taemin didn’t want to use a song that was already on another album (“Press It”) for his title track. So instead, he quickly wrote “Day and Night” and that was chosen as his new title track. “Day and Night” was Taemin’s first time participating in both the composing and songwriting for his title track. He also suggested the sun/moon/sunset glow concept and prepared a proposal draft. The choreography wasn’t ready in time for the MV (shot at Jeju Island) and was constantly changed during the 2 weeks of promotion on music shows. Between MOVE & MOVE-ING, SM released the concert version of “Thirsty” with a performance video.
Combined together, MOVE & MOVE-ing have sold a little over 160,000 copies and won Taemin awards at MAMA 2017 for Best Dance Performance Solo and the Seoul Music Awards’ Popularity Award. “MOVE” is currently Taemin’s highest viewed MV on YouTube. On Billboard, Taemin ranked #3 (MOVE) & #11 (MOVE-ING) on the World Albums chart and #4 on the World Digital Song Sales chart.
- Programs of Note: The Unit (Mentor), The Taemin Xtra Cam (Vapp+), D-cumentary, V app Rooftop Live, Happy Together (w/ Kai), Seoul Mate, Wednesday Food Talk (w/ Jonghyun), Billboard Interview, & NBC’s The Today Show Interview (Olympics)
1st Japanese Full Album: TAEMIN
1st Japanese Hall Tour: SIRIUS (2018)
A year after his first concert at Budokan, Taemin chose to upgrade his performances with a hall tour for his new release “TAEMIN”. Taemin stated that he wants to become an artist like BoA who is known by the general public in Japan and started with a hall tour (instead of arena) in order to build his foundation as a live solo performer. His new tour name was titled “SIRIUS” after the brightest star in the sky in hopes of creating his brightest moments with fans. With SIRIUS, Taemin wanted to get away from the preconceived notions of what an “idol” is. SIRIUS was also his first time doing a long tour: 32 shows, 18 venues, 16 venues, Sold out, with an estimated 100,000+ fans. Taemin said that at first the hall tour was unusual/nerve-wracking for him because the venues were small and the fans were really close. But as he performed each show, he got used to it and came to enjoy the experience. He monitored his shows after each performance and made changes to make the show more fun – like adding an acapella sing-a-long to his talks during each show that was different every time. The tour showcased 6 of Taemin’s new songs: “Into The Rhythm”, “Better Man”, “ECLIPSE”, “MARS”, “Under My Skin”, & “HOLY WATER”. During the tour he started using the SHINee Official JP Instagram account in order to communicate more with fans (he made his own account in 2019).
His album “TAEMIN” was released following the conclusion of his SIRIUS tour. “TAEMIN” is an album that consolidates and shows all of Taemin up to this point – his color, world view, and sound. Because the album is meant to be Taemin’s “first step” in showing Taemin’s identity, they simply titled it “TAEMIN”. The album includes hit songs from his first two EPs along with the new music performed during SIRIUS. With his previous two Japanese releases he showed music with an Asian flair, so with the new songs he said he wanted to do something different. He focused on songs that he could show on stage and create together with fans during the hall tour. The MV for the title track “Under My Skin” was made during the middle of his hall tour and was filmed near Narita, Japan – 神栖市 波崎海岸 Hasaki Beach, Ibaraki. “Under My Skin” contains the message from Taemin to fans that “everyone is my hope” and is notably Taemin’s first solo release since Jonghyun’s passing. The song is both a little dark and deep but Taemin felt that the song represented his feelings. “Into the Rhythm” is a song with a type of music that he hadn’t done before in Japan – a song that was more pop. “Holy Water” and “Mars” were songs chosen for their ability to be performed on stage. The stage performance version of “Eclipse” was released on YouTube worldwide for fans. Overall, “TAEMIN” was ranked #1 on Oricon’s daily chart (#2 weekly) and was ranked Oricon’s #70 album of 2018. Physically, “TAEMIN” has sold 67,000 copies as of 2019.
“My final goal? I don’t have one. Because I want to keep doing this forever. I want to always continue like this making lots of memories with everyone. Without choosing an end, I want to challenge myself and see how far I can go.” – “TAEMIN” LE DVD, 2018 (Trans. @mredwardsanders)
2nd Korean EP: WANT &
2nd Korean Concert: T1001101 Concert (2019)
After Taemin’s successful Japanese Tour, he returned to Korea with a new EP titled “WANT”. Taemin said he felt it was a bit of a pity that “MOVE’s” promotion period was so short. So he was hoping with his new “WANT” release that he could stay close to the image that “MOVE” created for fans to enjoy it longer. He described “WANT” as being halfway between “MOVE” and “Danger”. The title track “WANT” was choreographed once again by Koharu Sugawara and his pair track “Artistic Groove” was choreographed by Taemin himself. The dance intro to “WANT” is a freestyle and improvised on the spot while feeling the rhythm of the music. The scenes in the MV where Taemin dances alone against a white background were Taemin’s idea during the filming. He said that shooting with a live snake was a really memorable experience and that it was cuter than he thought it would be. The making films for the photoshoot and MV behind the scenes were intentionally made to be like art films to go along with Taemin’s artsy image. As a song, “WANT” is made to inspire new listeners who have never heard Taemin before to want to see more of Taemin and it is notable that it’s the first of Taemin’s music videos to have English subtitles on YouTube.
Like with his previous Korean release, Taemin once again went with an androgenous style costuming likely inspired by GmbH’s genderless suits (as found by fans) – with an added single glove fashion point. Taemin said that he likes for viewers to be able to identify a song by just the clothing highlights alone (ex: “Danger’s” leg belt).
Aside from “WANT”, Taemin said his favorite song on the EP is “Artistic Groove”. It was the first song he chose for the album (although “Monologue” was the first song recorded for it). Like with the songs he chose for his previous Japanese release, he chose “Shadow” because he wanted to perform it at his upcoming concert as a way to interact with fans during the call and response part of the song. Taemin gave a lot of input on “Truth” during its production and is a song dedicated to fans that he used for the finale of his concert “T1001101”. “Truth” is a song that expresses love without calling it love and instead refers to sincerity. “Want [Outro]” was actually a teaser for his new song “Identity” that was performed at his T1001101 concert the following month. The two songs that Taemin said he wanted to have when he first heard the demos were “WANT” & “Identity”. “Album Runthrough”
Following promotions, Taemin held a short Korean concert for 3 days at Seoul’s Olympic Handball Gymnasium called “T1001101”. T1001101 was named after the planet that the little prince lived on in the French novel “The Little Prince”. Many fans will know that “The Little Prince” was a favorite book of Jonghyun’s. “I am the Little Prince and you are my guests invited to my planet.” At the show, Taemin performed 3 new songs: “Identity”, “Heaven”, & “사랑인 것같아”. During the concert, he mentioned having participated in the lyric writing for “Heaven”. He opened the show with “Identity” and performed on a slanted stage hanging from wire supports. For this concert, Taemin chose not to have a band backup because he wanted to introduce a lot of new songs. In total, there were about 15,000 fans in attendance for the concert. There has been no mention since then of a release date for the 3 new songs he performed. At the time of writing, “WANT” is Taemin’s highest selling individual album with over 120,000 copies sold and is Taemin’s fastest trending music video on YouTube. Before his next promotion cycle, Taemin stopped by Los Angeles in March for a performance at the Korea Times Music Festival – his first solo gig in the US. This release has been Taemin’s biggest performer on Billboard charts to date earning him #47 Emerging Artists, #5 Heatseekers, #4 World Albums, #17 Independent Albums, #90 Top Current Albums, #5 World Digital Song Sales, & #15 Social 50 (SHINee), selling over 1,000 digital copies during its first week.
3rd Japanese EP: Famous &
1st Japanese Arena Tour: X™ (2019)
Following his very successful Korean “WANT” release and only half a year since his last Japanese release, Taemin began a new tour “X™” in Japan – this time an arena tour. The name comes from ™ for “trademark” and the “X” represents the value of everything (fashion, music, dance) that only Taemin can express. The tour began in June and had 17 sold out shows in 7 different locations across Japan, bringing in an audience of 150,000 attendees. The concert showcased 2 new songs, “Colours” & “Slave”, for the first time before the new EP “Famous” was digitally released August 4th – after which his title song “Famous” was added to the setlist. The title track “Famous” was premiered at SMTown in August before being shown at his final concert stages for X™. The concert itself was directed by Rino Nakasone, famous for choreographing SHINee’s “Replay”.
For “Famous”, Taemin wanted a choreography that would stand out and catch the viewer’s attention. So he expressed these ideas to his choreographer, Rikimaru, who was also Taemin’s choreographer for his Japanese songs ‘Tiger’, ‘Into The Rhythm’, ‘Mars’, ‘Eclipse’, and ‘Slave’. Rikimaru said that the choreography was inspired by Medusa’s snakes turning people to stone in Greek mythology, wanting Taemin to entrance his audience. The dance and practice were prepared during the tour so the process took a bit longer than usual for Taemin to learn. The first time Taemin heard the demo for “Colours”, he knew he wanted to put it in the album. Thus far, “Famous” is Taemin’s 2nd fastest growing MV to date. Although the song is Japanese, the MV was made in Korea this time by director JaKyoung Kim. In the DVD MV shooting sketch, Taemin says that it’s his first time working with this director. Digitally, “Famous” ranked #2 on the Oricon Weekly Album chart and #9 on the Daily Digital Singles Chart. Physically during its first week, “Famous” ranked #1 on Oricon Weekly & Daily Album charts with 51,000 total sales for the week and ranked 2nd on Billboard Japan with 54,305 sales. Outside of his tour, Taemin has appeared on Abema & other radio/news programs.
SuperM USA Debut &
“We Are The Future” USA Arena Tour (2019)
Taemin debuted in the US through a new SM All-Star group called “SuperM” in October 2019. The 7 member group consists of Taemin, EXO’s Kai & Baekhyun, NCT’s Taeyong & Mark, and WayV’s Ten & Lucas. The announcement came in Los Angeles at Capitol Records’ annual 2019 “Capitol Congress” presentation where Lee Sooman was present to introduce the epic “Avengers” level group. According to their documentary, “SuperM: The Beginning”, SuperM was project conceived of between Capitol Records & SM. Capitol wanted to collaborate with SM in producing an idol group and thus the “All-Star”/”Avengers” concept was created, using popular members from each of SM’s youngest boy groups. Taemin said that he was the first of the members to know about the project and shared his opinions about how the team should be formed. Baekhyun said that if it had been proposed as a short term project, he wouldn’t have wanted to join while Kai said he had always been interested in promoting in the US market.
After holding a quick press conference in Korea on 10/2, it was announced that SuperM would have their first North American tour, launching in November (with tickets going on sale 10/5). SuperM held their first event stateside on 10/3 for the premiere of their first EP & MV release. A small audience was invited to Capitol Records where they answered questions submitted by fans and then watched the MV together for the first time. The day after the album release (10/5), SuperM’s debut performance showcase was broadcast live on YouTube from Capitol Records in Hollywood. The showcase event was held at the Capitol Records building and part of Vine St. was shut down for a festival-like atmosphere where food trucks, merch, and street events were held. Their final major promotion schedule for their debut was their American TV debut on The Ellen Show where they performed “Jopping” and “I Can’t Stand the Rain”. “SuperM: The 1st Mini Album” charted at #1 on US Billboard’s “Billboard 200” album chart, “Artist 100” Chart, Album sales chart, and 5 other charts. They were the 2nd Korean act to reach #1 on the “Billboard 200” and the 1st Korean artist to debut at #1. To date, they have sold over 200,000 copies in the USA alone. [Read more here]
- SuperM: The Beginning, SuperM: The Story of ‘Jopping’, SuperM MV Premiere Q&A at Capitol, SuperM Showcase at Capitol Records in Hollywood, The Ellen Show, Billboard Q&A
3rd KOREAN FULL ALBUM: Never Gonna Dance Again (2020)
Taemin released “Never Gonna Dance Again” as a 2 part series (Act 1 & Act 2). Originally, “Never Gonna Dance Again” was meant to be the title of his 3rd Korean solo concert that was planned for March of 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the show to be canceled and the album release was postponed until Sept. 2020. Taemin kicked off the release, with “2 KIDS” as a pre-release single on August 4th, 2020. “Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 1” debuted on US iTunes as the #1 album on the All Genre chart, SHINee’s first #1 on US iTunes and highest to date. “Criminal” also peaked at #56 on the All Genre song chart. The album ranked #1 in 31 other countries on iTunes including Japan, Canada, & Mexico. Domestically, “Criminal” topped 3 Korean charts (Bugs, Genie, & VIBE) and the album became Taemin’s highest 1st week selling album with 116k physical sales on Korean Hanteo charts (137k Gaon monthly). To date, “Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 1” is Taemin’s highest selling album. Conceptually, Taemin wanted the album to have the feel of a series of stories told through a movie inspired medium. This is Taemin’s most hands on album to date – he personally picked the MV director Jo Beomjin (“Press Your Number”, “Drip Drop”) of VM Project Architecture and worked with him helping give input for editing of the MVs. He also contributed ideas to the choreography for “Criminal” (the hands tied idea was his) even though choreography credits go to Kasper & Koharu Sugawara.
Act 2’s release is anticipated for Nov. 2020.
Kai (EXO), Ravi (VIXX), Jimin (BTS), Timoteo (HOTSHOT) and Sungwoon (Wanna One) – Aka. “The Padding Crew”
FAMILY & UPBRINGING
Outside of music, Taemin said that family is a big influence for him. Besides his parents, he has one older brother and two dogs: Adam & Eve (both are male). In his family unit Taemin is also the youngest (maknae) with his nickname at home being “puppy,” a common Korean nickname for younger family members. Taemin has said that his family members are also very independent minded so it’s not that unusual to him that he too started his own path at an early age.
As a kid, Taemin was shy but mischievous. He tells stories about hiding behind his mom’s skirts and skipping kindergarten/going home early, and being scolded for it. He also often played pranks on his older brother. Taemin’s mom is really supportive of him, attending many of his concerts. She even wrote comments during one of his live radio broadcasts for his solo debut in 2014. Taemin’s mother is the one who encouraged him to try out for SM and even went with him to the audition. Taemin’s parents supported him with the mindset of “If he enjoys it, shouldn’t Taemin do what he likes?” Not a lot is known about his brother but Taemin did say that they wrote “Cry For Me” together which Taemin performed at SMTown The Wizard (2013) and he’s often seen at Taemin’s concerts.
Taemin didn’t live in the dorm for very many years with the members. Instead he lived more often with his family (parents & brother). Taemin said that he gives his family all the money he makes, paying for their living expenses and buying them a house, & car (Radio Star 2012). Recently, sometime in 2018, Taemin moved out to live on his own. You can see a little bit of Taemin’s family home on Vapp’s “The Taemin: Xtra Cam”.
TAEMIN & SHINEE WORLD
Sirius Tour: Taemin’s Love for SHINee World (2018)
- Show Champion feat. Shawols (2016)
- Billboard: Taemin Reading Shawol Comments (2017)
- WANT Showcase feat. Shawols (2019)
(Korea Times Music Festival in LA – 2019)
OTHER ACTIVITIES OF NOTE
- “The River Flows In You” piano cover (2009)
- “Romeo + Juliette”, SHINee World I (2011)
- “U” To the Beautiful You OST (2012)
- Immortal Songs 2, contestant/performer (2012)
- “Maxstep”, Younique Unit (2012)
- “Spectrum”, SM the Performance (2012)
- “Trapped”, Henry feat. Taemin & Kyuhyun (2013)
- “Cry For Me”, SMTown the Wizard concert (2013)
- “Reality”, KCON France (2016)
- The Unit, mentor (2017)
- “Pinocchio”, “니가 내 기준”, & “Like You” – The Call, participant/performer (2018)
- Why Not: The Dancer (2018)
- “Despacito” KCON Chile (2018)