SHINee – Live Performances Review, Part I: 2008

by: Raine

Here is Part I of my review. It all began in 2008 when 5 wee teenagers had dreams of being K-pop idols and decided to sing…and dance. Yes, in brightly colored shirts and pants and suits. Why? No one knows, but it began the SHINee style and we will roll with it. It all started with Replay

Replay/누난 너무 예뻐 – May 25, 2008

Single off of their debut mini-album Replay that dropped digitally on May 22, 2008.

When SHINee debuted May 25, 2008 on SBS’s Inkigayo, they were young, relatively inexperienced, but hugely talented. Their debut song is the noona-winning song, “누난 너무 예뻐/Noona Neomu Yeppeo/Noona, you’re so pretty/REPLAY.” Rino Nakasone Razalan choreographed the dance, which was pretty complex for a rookie group. In their introductions you can see how painfully young they are! Taemin was a month shy of his 15th birthday (he’s 21 this year, 2014!) He was a skinny little kid with a bowl cut. All of them look eager to please and not like the seasoned professionals they now are! It’s weird for me to look back on it ’cause they definitely seem like eager, young boys back in 2008.

Enough of that, let’s watch their first official live performance as SM’s 2008 rookie group, SHINee!

( EUN JI-WON! Former 90s idol in Sechs Kies and actress Heo Yi-jae are hosting! EEEE!)

What did you get after watching that video? I got, “Rookie group, eager to please, lack of finesse, great voices, some talented dancers, in need of polish….SO much potential.” It surprises me still how eager to please they were back then and show their chops because now they are confident idol performers who have a worldwide following and are probably one of the ten most popular Korean groups in Asia. If you compare then to now, it’s astounding how much they have improved, and that is why I love them. They’ve worked their asses to get from May 25, 2008 to now.

The concept was definitely a youthful concept from the staging, to how they were dressed super casually, no hair dying, and back-up dancers to beef up the performance.

Let’s point out a few things so we can watch them change over time (Note- I’m critiquing them in comparison to idols, not normal people because they debuted into an idol world!) :

  • Performance as a group: while they are solid as a group, the routine is generally together, they generally have awareness of the other members, and they generally sing well, they aren’t tight knit. The routine doesn’t have the snap and pizzazz that it does today (5 1/2 years later!) or compared to other tight groups at the time, TVXQ (pre breakup. Wasn’t SHINee supposed to be their replacement or something?) or Super Junior. They seems more focused on doing things right than really interacting with each other. In other words, it was a pretty rookie performance that showed lots of potential. They just need more vocal and physical control. They most definitely have the “it” factor. Oh, and they rock Rino Nakasone Razalan’s choreography. She did quite a bit of work for them in those early years. It seems really geared towards Taemin’s fluidity.
  • Jonghyun (18 at the time) – has a naturally powerful instrument and still moves like all of his energy is going to burst from every crevice of his body – it’s just not polished yet. He has trouble negotiating the intonation in his upper register (in live performance. The recording was great!) That means he sang out of tune on the high notes. He is every bit an unbridled teenage talent.
  • Onew (18 at the time, 19 at the end of the year) – Still dorktastic. He definitely wasn’t much of a dancer, which doesn’t meant much because they’re all more skilled than most of us will ever be. But in comparison to NOW, the change in his dance skills is HUGE. His voice is a naturally large instrument and he has mostly great pitch except for a few sour notes here and there. The biggest change I’ve noticed while watching this video, compared to now, is his phrasing. What that means is that he doesn’t just trail off the ends of his sentences/phrases like he did in this video. He ends them properly without just dropping off.
  • Taemin (14 at the time, 15 in a month) – Amazing dancer. Still has what Lil’ Raine calls “the bitch face” and I call “the game face.” When he dances, he gets this look that shows he’s in dancin’ mode and ain’t there nothing gonna stop him! He was insanely talented then and it’s hard to picture that natural skill getting better, but it does! His voice is very weak here. It’s pretty, but ain’t nothing to write home about. He definitely improves over the years.
  • Minho (16 at the time) – No rapping in this song, so we didn’t get to see that, but we did see how he struggled to sing on stage and keep a steady tone. Dancing and singing ain’t easy. His vocal improvement is HUGE from then to now. And his dancing is also pretty clumsy. He’s so confident in it now.
  • Key (16 at the time) Awesome dancing, confident singing…but….not so in tune. Key struggles with intonation consistently through the song. He and Onew have the strongest stage presences, in my opinion. They get off from being on stage. Lil’ Raine and I call him “the diva,” but in the most endearing of ways. The way that Mariah Carey is a diva. Talented, beautiful, powerful, and loves the stage.

산소 같은 너/Love Like Oxygen – September 8, 2008

Single off of their first studio album, The SHINee World, that dropped on August 29, 2008.

  • Performance as a group: Already they are so much more confident on stage and much tighter. Sure, they had time pre-debut to perform, but it isn’t the same as actively promoting a concept and then making a comeback with a wicked song with wicked choreography, also by Rino Nakasone Razalan. They have a more mature look and sexier hair styles,  they have experience from their debut stages and promotions. There is still a lot of shakiness vocally, especially with all the activity in the choreography. It surprises me how well-together they are with the choreography because they’ve improved so much that you’d think they’d be worse at the start. But no, they’re awesome. They’re just so much more fine-tuned now. Also, they don’t have the vocal balance that they have now. What I mean by that is when they duet, the voices don’t blend as well. When they solo, they don’t pass off as well, especially between Jonghyun and Onew’s HUGE voices and the other threes less powerful voices. (Less powerful just means their instruments aren’t as big, doesn’t mean they ain’t pretty!) Those are things that come with time, and as any true SHINee fangirl (er, fan noona?) knows, they totally grew with time!
  • Minho: This boy seriously turns on when he raps. He is shaky and loses tone when he dances and sings, even in the lower registers where he’s comfortable. But man, when he raps, it’s like he owns the world. He channels some of Key’s diva attitude! His dancing is still the most awkward of the group, maybe along with Onew, but that by no means indicates that he’s BAD. It just means out of the five IDOL stars, he’s the most awkward. Compared to me, he’s God! Hehe.
  • Taemin: Can this kid move! He’s totally boneless. How does he do those leg wavy/loopy things? Yes, that’s the technical term. I feel like this choreography is really geared towards his capabilities, the ability to connect movements fluidly. Vocally, however, he is pretty weak. His breath support is spotty and he has trouble sustaining while he dances. This is a huge skill he learns over the years, which just makes me impressed because he’s so damned good at it now.
  • Key: I love how this kid is a diva from the start. He pwns the stage hardcore. He gets high up there and he passes that along to his other members. His voice is already stronger in this one although he’s still pretty out of tune. But then again, those missed notes don’t phase Key. He keeps performing the shit out of the song.
  • Onew: The unique quality to his voice really strikes me in this particular performance. He has such a huge instrument that he never really has to try for volume. Over the years he gains a lot more control of it. Here you can hear him struggle to overcome some pitch issues although he’s the most solid. His phrasing also lacks finesse. But man, his voice is so pretty. And I love how he smiles when he sings, like he loves what he does. Wait…
  • Jonghyun: Oh, my man, you are so awesome, even in your early stages. Sure, your runs aren’t the glossy creatures of today, but what does that matter? I just love seeing him grow from his idol infancy to now. He has this raw talent and natural instrument and a quirky dance style all his own. Have you guys noticed how much he loves head flair when he dances? I love that. It’s his thing.

There you have it folks, my review of 2008. It’s based on two videos so it’s obviously not all inclusive, but I have watched many from that time period and these are generally representative IMHO. If you have other opinions, please KINDLY share. If not shared kindly, you’re comment will be deleted. If you have favorite performances from this time, please share! Or if you want to fangurl and gush, please share. No hating. I don’t do hate. Hate is bad. Love is good. Love SHINee.

SHINee – an introduction to my review of live performances from 2008 to Now!

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