10/25/2017 by Tamar Herman
Upon first glance, Taemin is the epitome of a K-pop star: poised and polished after nine years in an industry built just as much on its appearances as its musicality. And he definitely is very much that. But speaking with the musician, it became apparent that his bright smile and boyish charm belie an introspective personality as he questioned the career path he has pursued since he was a teenager.
“I wanted to go beyond what K-pop typically is perceived as, and through 'MOVE' I was able to show a concept that’s more edgy, more powerful,” Taemin told Billboard, referring to his newest song. “Not only that, but regardless of the gender, I believe that all of the audience will be able to enjoy and listen to this as something different from most of what’s coming out in K-pop.”
Sensual in its subtlety, the latest single from the SHINee member is a retro-vibing R&B attempt at pushing the limits of what K-pop is in 2017. Leading his newly released album MOVE to No. 3 on the World Album charts, the track was released with three choreography-focused music videos as the 24-year-old Korean artist aimed to break gender stereotypes and the perceived limits of K-pop’s artistry.
Working with Japanese choreographer Koharu Sugawara and a team of female dancers, the choreography for Taemin’s “MOVE” is filled with smooth moves and lacks the aggressive flare featured by many contemporary performances. It’s intentional on Taemin’s behalf, with the star using his lithe frame as a jumping off point to counter the gender norms typified by many K-pop dances. “My aim was to find a middle ground, mixing both masculine and feminine movements into the choreography together.”
“My body shape is like that of a dancer’s,” he said. “It’s not too masculine or overly muscular and I wanted to take advantage of that. I thought I could show the soft lines like the dance movements of a ballet dancer by adding subtlety to my choreography. I wanted to break the idea of what male performers are supposed to show, what performances girl groups are supposed to show. I really wanted to break those labels, showing that dance is a form of art.”
Along with his attempt at breaking dance stereotypes, masked scenes in “MOVE" were included to match Taemin's vision for a K-pop industry where artists aren't as tied to their appearances as they currently are. This was inspired in part by his love of Sia, who he called his favorite musician, and her approach to (mostly) faceless musicality. He said, “I really wanted my fans to understand that outer appearances really don’t matter. A lot of K-pop fans tend to react to what is shown on the outside due to appearances, and influenced by Sia, I wanted my fans to see that what I bring on the inside is more important than the outside.”
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