SHINee’s Japanese debut MV, Replay, was released on 26 May 2011. If you haven’t seen it yet, or want to refresh your mind, take a gander:
I have waited six days to write this, and I still do not think it is safe for me to post this. Please (t)read cautiously. If there was only one thing I was allowed to say about the Replay Japanese MV, it would be this:
Taemin was pushed to the front, and shoved up our faces.
Initially, Replay was supposed to be rewritten to take into account SHINee’s improved singing, which I thought was code for “Let’s have Minho and Taemin sing a few solo lines!” which really meant, “Let’s just have Taemin sing Onew’s and Jonghyun’s parts! Minho can just stew in the back with his chesty shirt!” Not only did the S.M. neglect Minho, they also gave Taemin two of the most iconic parts in Replay. In the Japanese version, Taemin sings the beginning, originally sung by Jonghyun, and Taemin sings the middle part in verse two with the high note (around 1:33sec), originally sung by Onew. I am most irritated by Taemin singing the beginning, because in an interview,* Jonghyun once said that Replay is the song with which he has the deepest emotional connection, and whenever he hears the beginning, his feelings are indescribable–a mixture of anticipation, pride, happiness, gratitude, humbleness. As Jonghyun-biased, I am deeply annoyed that S.M. would take that away from Jonghyun.
Speaking of which, the first time I watched the MV, I paused the video after the first verse. After the initial head shots of the five members (classic S.M. style), I did not see an individual shot of Jonghyun at all, and I was beginning to seriously doubt Jonghyun had even sung in the first verse. I went back and listened to the music and then found Jonghyun singing the measly four-second lead-in to the chorus in a fleeting shot that gives prominence to the group, not Jonghyun. In fact, the scene before Jonghyun’s part? Taemin‘s super-long Matrix-style-camera-shot (also irritatingly, classic S.M.). Guess who was given the first full frontal head shot? Taemin! Who is stuck in the center for group dance every single time? Taemin! And guess who had five individual head shots in the first two minutes compared to Jonghyun’s lonely single head shot?! Taemin!
Of course, Taemin is SHINee’s “dancer” and is usually in the center for the choruses, but if you look at the original video, at around the 1:57sec mark, guess what you see?! Jonghyun in the center and singing his part! In Japanese Replay, we see Taemin in the center and Jonghyun singing his mercifully unchanged part.. but now, unfortunately, in the back..
So not only musically we are assaulted, we are pummelled by Taemin visually as well. I would be less sore about Taemin singing the parts of Onew and Jonghyun if Minho had sung something substantial as well. However, Minho got ignored, and so all this put together can only mean one thing: Taemin got pushed to the front.
Now that we sorted that there is some sort of favoritism going on, the next question to ask is why? Why Taemin? Well, if we look at Google Insights, Taemin ( テミン) is the most Googled member in Japan, followed by Key. In an interview with Y Generation Magazine:
SHINee: We think Taemin has the highest popularity in Japan because when we had activities in Japan many fans will scream the loudest when he appears on the big screen!
Oho. So someone’s doing their market research at S.M.! Wow! Instead of working hard to make all of the members liked, let’s just pile everything on Taemin! The visual and the aural! Even if it disrupts the group dynamic of SHINee, this is swell! We will just capitalize on status quo! Terrific! Best marketing plan evarr!! Fame is not transitory!! Not at all!!
- Why Yoona? I do not have anything against her, but I thought it would be a nice gesture if the featured female was Japanese. DBSK succeeded in Japan because they had an authentic J-pop style, while SHINee just seems like a glossy import by just sticking to Koreans.
- Four members acted terribly. Onew: creepy, Taemin: flo-mo killed it, Minho: too much lovelorn-doe googly eyes, and Jonghyun: I’m-watching-you-as-I-wash-windows-even-though-the-windows-are-already-clean-and-I-have-no-idea-how-to-clean-windows-in-the-first-place-creepy. Key was the only one who rocked it, because he fits naturally in his designer concept.
- The style was just a reblurb of past SHINee trends. Also, the sets, though detailed, are not memorable.
- Jonghyun is always cut off in the framing of his shots, unlike say, Taemin. This might seem trivial, but honestly, why aren’t we ever granted a view of the top of Jonghyun’s head as well?! He’s not going bald, is he?!
Before Shawols trample me, I will highlight a few good things about the MV:
- EMI Japan uploaded the MV in 1070HD. Bless them.
- Taemin’s new hairstyle makes him look more manly. Or it makes him look more butch. It could go either way.
- Jonghyun’s individual-shot hairstyle actually does draw from Japanese influences (manga! anime!).
- Dork Jonghyun is adorbs!
So I bet you are itching to tell me I am wrong and that the MV is perfect and you hope I grow a pig snout the next morning. If you are seriously contemplating on cursing me, listen to this audio guide first. If you have further concerns, please leave a comment or ask anonymously on formspring!
*It was a spoken interview from around 2009, so I am having trouble finding it. If I do find it, I will update accordingly.