Six years ago, on February 16, 2016, SM Entertainment released the second main teaser for Taemin's 1st Full Album - Press It, with the title track 'Press Your Number,' which shows two different Taemin's, lips almost touching for a kiss.
Listen to "Press It - The 1st Album" here:
Fans worldwide had mixed reactions - some, seeing it for the first time, are in disbelief thinking it was a fan edit, while others are nostalgic about how six years have already passed since it dropped.
Everyone agreed on one thing - the fact that it was game-changing and iconic.
While some fans related this photo self-love, in the same way, the young Narcissus in Greek mythology falls in love with his own image; this is not a tragedy. Taemin's is a marriage of his two sides: the strong and the vulnerable, the good and the bad.
This teaser aptly foretells the events in the music video of his title track, "Press Your Number," where he finds himself a criminal and a hostage by his own hand.
Watch "Press Your Number MV" here:
The Genre, TAEMIN
For the years to follow, where Taemin immerses himself more in the creative process, this duality will be a recurring theme in his discography - whether in the storytelling of his cinematic music videos or the lyrics of his songs, creating the GENRE that is Taemin.
This concept is not new to him, though. In Taemin's debut and 1st Mini Album, ACE, Jonghyun writes the song Pretty Boy (2014) to express the prejudice Taemin received as a male idol with a pretty face, rejecting the stereotypes people put him in, and asserting that a person can look delicate and be strong and virtuous at the same time.
Watch: Jonghyun on writing Taemin's Pretty Boy:
PRETTY BOY (2014)
She says, “you’re a guy so…” like a habit
Why is being sensitive the opposite of being a man?
Cause I do it I do it for you
I won’t pretend to be innocent like a puppet
Everyone talks so easily
I may always seem pretty, I may always seem good
I may seem nice, I may seem soft, But that’s all a part
Of your imagination that’s over my head (Pretty Boy)
They say pretty boys are always like this
They say pretty boys just follow along the flow of things
I’m above the imaginations in your head (Pretty Boy)
Lyrics from: https://genius.com/Taemin-pret...
Unlike powerful and explosive choreography, prevalent at the time, Move expressed strength and seduction through elegant, soft, and subtle moves and fashion that makes his silhouette similar to his female dancers.
In one scene, Taemin's face is covered by a mask, and his female dancers' faces are blurred as if to say - erase labels and distinctions - male and female, but focus on them as performers.
Watch the music video here:
Written by Kami Kaoru, the song portrays the two sides of fame, one that is 'fabulous' and one that is lonely from the 'incessant dissonance' of an artist's celebrity persona and their real self.
"Famous (I'm so fabulous),
Famous (I'm so dangerous)
Famous (So famous)
A lonely drama (so famous)
Watch me (All alone) intensely
Awakening with the crowd cheers (it's awakening)
Who I am anymore
I still don't know
Famous famous (I'm so)
Famous famous (Famous)
The incessant dissonance, I’m starting to get a headache
Famous famous (I'm so)
Famous (So famous)
Until I break (So famous)
No drama, no drama
Lyrics from: https://genius.com/Genius-engl...
Watch the music video here: https://youtu.be/F32hhOsJ14k
In Taemin's Criminal, he created two characters - a criminal version of himself and a victim version. As the story progresses, he intended to blur the lines and make it difficult to distinguish between the criminal and the victim. The victim assimilates to the criminal, similar to Stockholm Syndrome.
Watch the Music Video here: https://youtu.be/hFQL
Watch Taemin's Criminal MV Commentary here: https://youtu.be/L6snbR67ljs
In his commentary, Taemin also explained how duality is expressed in the photo teasers, how he utilizes fashion to present these characters in the MV, and how the concept is incorporated in the choreography, where he kneels down with hands tied.
In the show Kpop Lyrics Helper, writer Lee Heejoo shares her experience working with Taemin in the process of her writing 'Criminal' based on the concept: https://youtu.be/GuiP9oi7meM
Based on Plato's Theory of Forms, where a perfect world beyond the physical exists, through 'forms' or 'ideas,' the music video utilizes the images of Hell and Heaven to show the path of redefining himself to find perfection.
Watch the Music Video here: https://youtu.be/KUvOQlkLNhE