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SHINee celebrates 15th anniversary of debut: 'It feels surreal'

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SHINee members during their concert at the Tokyo Dome, Japan, in 2015 / Courtesy of SM Entertainment
SHINee members during their concert at the Tokyo Dome, Japan, in 2015 / Courtesy of SM Entertainment

SHINee to release eighth studio album

By Dong Sun-hwa

This year marks the 15th anniversary of K-pop boy group SHINee, one of the marquee names in the K-pop industry and an act that has always been ahead of its time.

"It may sound obvious, but it feels surreal to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our debut," member Minho said in a recent interview through the band's agency, SM Entertainment. "I am happy and thankful that my dream, which I first had when I was a high school student, keeps on going."

Taemin added, "Our fans seem to be very loyal. Many of them have witnessed our growth, so I think they keep us in their hearts like their school memories."

SHINee arrived on the music scene as a quintet consisting of Onew, Jonghyun, Key, Minho and Taemin on May 25, 2008, with the EP, "Replay." The title of the lead single is "Replay" in English, but it is "Noona You're So Pretty" in Korean. "Noona" is a Korean word used by a male to address his older biological sister, or, more generally, a female who is older but of a similar generation to him.

The SM act first promoted itself as a band of young and adorable boys, thereby winning the hearts of female fans who were for the most part older than the members. Taemin, the youngest member, was 14 when he debuted. SHINee also became the talk of the town for its unique fashion style characterized by colorful skinny jeans, prompting a buying spree among teenagers.

Its first full-length album, "The SHINee World" hit shelves only three months after the group's debut. Fronted by the lead track, "Love Like Oxygen," the album won Newcomer Album of the Year at the 23rd Golden Disc Awards, a major music awards ceremony in Korea. Since then, the group has rolled out a string of hits including, "Ring Ding Dong" (2009).

Famed for its repetitive refrain, "Ring Ding Dong" took multiple music streaming charts by storm at home and abroad. It used to be a "banned song" in high schools as its catchy tune and lyrics could get stuck in the heads of college entrance exam takers, hindering them from concentrating on their tests.

The group extended its winning streak with "Lucifer" (2010) and "Sherlock (Clue+Note)" (2012). The latter, in particular, is known for its extremely challenging yet outstanding choreography crafted by internationally acclaimed choreographer, Tony Testa.

"Sherlock" is a mashup of two different tracks ― "Clue" and "Note" ― and is often deemed K-pop's first hybrid remix. The attempt to fuse the new jack swing and hip-hop elements of "Clue" and the vocal-driven character of "Note" turned out to be a huge success, with Rolling Stone picking it as one of the great boy band songs of all time in 2015 and in 2020.

In 2015, SHINee staged its first solo concert at the Tokyo Dome, the biggest baseball stadium in Japan's capital city that can accommodate over 40,000 spectators. After the show, it continued to take an experimental route in terms of music with the release of "View" (2015), which is considered K-pop's first venture into deep house. Thanks to these feats, SHINee has become one of the few K-pop acts that are both commercially and artistically successful.

For SHINee members and their fans, 2017 was a heartbreaking year. On December 18, member Jonghyun passed away. But SHINee still calls itself a five-member group.

Onew, the oldest member, started his compulsory military service in 2018 as did Minho and Key in 2019. After all three of them were discharged, SHINee dropped its seventh studio album, "Don't Call Me" in 2021, which debuted at No. 1 on the Gaon Album Chart. Soon after its release, Taemin began his military service and returned to civilian life on April 4, 2023.

SHINee is scheduled to put out its eighth full-length album in the second quarter of this year, marking the 15th anniversary of its debut. It held a special event with its fans in Seoul on May 27-28.

In the written interview, Onew hinted that the upcoming album will signal a new chapter in SHINee's career, adding that the pursuit of difference is the defining characteristic of SHINee.

Key said, "We will not rest on our laurels and continue to proceed."

Dong Sun-hwa


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