SHINee’s Key reveals the group had no real input for the first seven years

“We had a set image and songs that went along with it”

Iconic K-pop boyband SHINee had barely any say in their work for their first seven years together, according to member Key.

In a newly released essay for Allure, the South Korean singer revealed that it wasn’t until their 2015 album ‘Odd’ that the boyband had a major influence on their own music and image. They first made their debut in 2008 with the mini-album ‘Replay’, released under SM Entertainment.

“I don’t know if this is the right word, but SM made us. We didn’t create [SHINee]. We were a produced group. We had a set image and songs that went along with it,” he wrote. “It wasn’t until 2015, seven years after my debut, that our staff asked for our opinions. I think that was the epiphany moment, like, ‘Okay, I need to make these decisions’.”


“The other members and I picked ‘View’ as the single [from ‘Odd’], as well as the whole concept, and the costumes were based on my ideas – a vintage, old-school [aesthetic] that might be new to our audience,” Key added. The singer also noted that the concept had been “shocking” for South Korean audiences, describing it as “too forward for the times”.

“But I don’t regret it,” he remarked. “Going onstage with those outfits for the first time, I recall thinking, This is SHINee. We’re back. I decided to express everything – my music, my identity – [through my look]. Beauty and fashion became tools for me to emphasize certain things about myself.”

Key then attributed the group’s edgy style to their fans, as well as iconic K-pop girl group 2NE1. He compared how the style of their female fans would be influenced by the boyband and, similarly, how he would draw inspiration from 2NE1, calling the blurring of femininity and masculinity a “symbolic moment” for him.

“I would look at what 2NE1 was wearing during a performance and be like, ‘Oh, that looks really cool. I would wear that’,” he said. “For me, there’s no boundary between femininity and masculinity, and I try to be even more natural in my own reactions to people expressing themselves.”

Elsewhere in the essay, Key also talks about life as a K-pop idol, the road to his debut in SHINee and more. Read the full essay at Allure here.


Earlier this month, SHINee hinted at their long-awaited comeback as a group with a number of teaser images. The group are set to release their seventh studio album ‘Don’t Call Me’ on February 22, their first project since 2018’s ‘The Story Of Light’.

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