SHINee is a South Korean boy group signed under SM Entertainment. Originally formed as a five-member group in 2008, they were introduced as a contemporary R&B group by the agency with the goal of being trendsetters in all areas of music, fashion, and dance among others. The group debuted with their first EP, Replay, in May 2008 and has steadily risen to global popularity since. They are known as one of the best live vocal groups in K-pop and has earned the title “Princes of K-pop”. SHINee is currently composed of four members – Onew, Key, Minho, and Taemin – after Jonghyun’s passing in December 2017.
2008: SHINee Official debut, the “SHINEE Trend” and Replay
Prior to their official debut, SM Entertainment introduced an upcoming contemporary R&B group with the goal of being trendsetters in music, fashion, and dance. Their group name, SHINee, is a combination of the word ‘shine’, which refers to light, and the suffix ‘-ee’, which translates to “one who receives the light”.
On May 25, they released their first EP, Replay, with the title track of the same name. The album, which consists of five songs including a remix version of their lead single, debuted at number 10 on Korean music charts. It then peaked at number 8, selling almost 18,000 copies in the first half of 2008 (less than a month since their debut).
Shortly after the release of their EP, SHINee had their first stage performance of “Replay” on SBS’ Inkigayo, with a choreography by Japanese dancer and choreographer, Rino Nakasone.
True to their goal of being trendsetters in music and fashion, SHINee’s fashion style during their Replay promotions also gained attention. Created by designer Ha Sang-beg, their style which features high-cut sneakers, skinny jeans, and colorful sweaters, created a fashion trend among students later on dubbed by the media as the “SHINee Trend”. Following the success of their debut, SHINee was chosen as endorsers for several brands such as Reebok and Nana’s B.
In June 2008, the group won their first award – Rookie of the Month – at the Cyworld Digital Music Awards and also won the Hot New Star award at the Mnet 20’x Choice Awards in August of the same year.
On August 28, SHINee released their first full-length album, The SHINee World, which debuted at number three after selling 30,000 copies. The title track “Sanso Gateun Neo (Love Like Oxygen)” is the group’s cover of the song “Show the World” by Martin Hoberg Hedegaard. It also earned the group their first music show win on M! Countdown.
In October 2008, they participated in the 5th Asia Song Festival where they received the “Best New Artist” award alongside Japanese group Berryz Kobo. The group also attended the Style Icon Awards in the same month and received the “Best Style Icon Award”.
On October 30, A Mi Go, the repackaged version of The SHINee World was released. It features three new songs – “Forever or Never,” “Love Should Go One (remix),” and the lead single “Amigo”. A Mi Go stands for the shortened Korean phrase “Areumdaun Minyeoreul Joahamyeon Gosaenghanda,” which translates to “The heart aches when you fall in love with a beauty.”
In November, SHINee won the “Best New Male Group” award at the 10th Mnet Asian Music Awards, beating fellow newcomers U-KISS, 2PM, 2AM, and Mighty Mouth. They also won the “Newcomer Album of the Year” award at the 23rd Golden Disk Awards.
2009 to 2010: Rising popularity and Lucifer
In February 2009, SHINee won the “Best Newcomer” award, along with artists Davichi and Mighty Mouth, at the 18th Seoul Music Awards.
On May 18, they released the song “Juliette,” the title track of their second EP, Romeo, which was released on May 25. The group had their first stage performance for “Juliette” on KBS’ Music Bank in June, where they also won a music trophy for the song.
Later in the year, SHINee followed it up with the digital release of their third EP, 2009, Year of Us, on October 19 and the physical release on October 22. The lead single, “Ring Ding Dong,” meanwhile, was pre-released digitally on October 14 and ranked on top of several Korean music charts and became a hit all over Asia.
In early December, the boys were once again recipients of year-end accolades, this time bagging the “Popularity Award,” along with labelmates Super Junior, at the 24th Golden Disk Awards.
On July 19, 2010, SHINee released their second full-length studio album, Lucifer, which topped physical and digital sales charts in South Korea. They made their official comeback on July 23 with a performance on KBS’ Music Bank. “Lucifer,” the lead single from the album, became widely popular because of its difficult choreography, earning the group a nomination for the Best Dance Performance category at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
Lucifer became the 6th best-selling album of 2010 in South Korea, selling more than 120,000 copies in total. In the middle of their promotions for the album, the group also took part in the SMTown Live ’10 World Tour on August 21, 2010.
In October 2010, SHINee re-released the album under the title Hello. On December 26, the group embarked on their first concert tour, SHINee World, at Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo with approximately 24,000 people in attendance.
2011: Japanese debut and promotions, more international activities
Ringing in the new year of 2011, SHINee performed at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul as part of their tour, SHINee World, followed by performances in various cities in Japan throughout the year. On January 25 and 26, they also participated in the Japan leg of SMTown Live ’10 World Tour in Tokyo, as well as in two more shows at Zenith de Paris in Paris, three at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, and another show at the Madison Square Garden in New York City.
On June 19, SHINee made history by becoming the first Asian artists to perform at Abbey Road Studios in London, where they held their Japan Premium Debut Reception.
On June 22, the group made their official debut in Japan with the Japanese version of their song “Replay,” selling more than 91,000 copies in the first week alone. The album was subsequently certified Gold by RIAJ after selling over 100,000 copies and became the highest number of sales recorded by Oricon for a South Korean group debut at the time.
They embarked on their Japan Debut Premium Reception Tour beginning on July 22 and held several concerts in various cities across Japan.
On August 9, SHINee took part in an effort to help African children, joining then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in the “Help African Children” project co-organized by the Korean Red Cross Society and the Korean UNICEF committee.
On August 28 and October 12 of the same year, the Japanese remakes of “Juliette” and “Lucifer” were released, respectively. In November, they were invited to be the opening act at The 6th London Korean Film Festival, which took place at Odeon West End Theater. They held an hour-long gala concert to open the festival with tickets selling out within minutes. This marked the first time that any Korean artist held an independent concert in London.
Towards the end of the year, SHINee released their first Japanese studio album, The First, featuring five new songs and seven Japanese remakes of previously released Korean songs. The regular version of the album also featured “Stranger,” the theme song of the drama Strangers 6, as a bonus. The album was another certified Gold by RIAJ as it sold more than 100,000 copies upon release.
On December 8, members Onew, Key, and Taemin debuted as writers and released the travelogue “Children of the Sun” containing stories from their trip to Barcelona, Spain. The members shot the photos themselves as well as wrote the commentaries. Also in the same month, SHINee participated in the 2011 Winter SMTown – The Warmest Gift album with their rendition of the song “Last Christmas”.
On December 24, the group held a commemorative concert in honor of the successful release of their first Japanese album at the Tokyo International Forum Hall A. The live performance took place three times in order to accommodate 15,000 fans who won a lottery to attend the show. They performed a total of six songs, including their Japanese debut singles “Replay (Kimi wa Boku no Everything),” “Lucifer,” and “To Your Heart”.
On December 28, Tower Records Japan announced that SHINee won the “Artist of the Year” plum at the K-Pop Lovers! Awards 2011.
2012: Sherlock, first Japan concert tour
SHINee released their fourth Korean mini album, Sherlock, on March 19 (digital) and 21 (physical), which eventually became the fifth bestselling album of the year in South Korea with more than 180,000 copies sold. On March 26, SHINee and some of their other labelmates became stockholders of SM Entertainment. Each of the members received 340 shares (around $13,600).
On April 25, the group embarked on their first nationwide Japan concert tour, titled SHINee World 2012, which included a total of 20 concert performances in Fukuoka, Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Tokyo, and Hiroshima. Their tour recorded the most number of people in attendance for a Korean act’s first Japan tour with a total of 200,000 concertgoers.
On May 16, they released the Japanese version of Sherlock, then participated in the SMTown Live World Tour III alongside other labelmates at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. SHINee also held their second solo concert, SHINEE World II, beginning at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul on July 21 and 22.
On October 10 of the same year, the quintet released the original Japanese single, “Dazzling Girl,” selling more than 97,000 copies in its first week. The single was chosen as the theme song for the Japanese TV series Sukkiri.
On November 19, they won the Ministry of Culture Award,” alongside actor Kim Soo Hyun, at the Korean Popular Culture & Arts Award, an annual award show organized by South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism and Korea Creative Content Agency. In the same month, the group attended the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong and won the “Best Dance Performance – Male Group” award for their latest Korean single, “Sherlock (Clue + Note)”.
At the end of the year, SHINee released their first Japanese ballad single, 1000-nen, Zutto Soba ni Ite…, as well as the concert video album for their SHINee World 2012 arena tour.
2013: Dream Girl, Why So Serious?, second Japan nationwide tour
On January 15, SHINee attended the 27th Golden Disk Awards in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where they bagged the “Popularity Award” for the third time and won another Disk Bonsang for “Sherlock” after winning the same for “Lucifer” in 2010.
The following month, MBC announced that SHINee would be starring in their own Lunar New Year special entitled “SHINee’s Wonderful Day” (also known as SHINee’s One Fine Day), which began airing on February 10. The special featured all the members traveling to various countries of their choice without the assistance of their management staff and with the production crew instructed not to interfere. For the show, Onew went to Thailand, Jonghyun visited Japan, Key and Minho traveled to England, and Taemin flew to Switzerland.
On February 19, the group released the first part of their third Korean album, Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You, followed by the release of the second part, Why So Serious? – The Misconceptions of Me, on April 29. They promoted the title tracks for each version, “Dream Girl” and “Why So Serious,” before subsequently releasing the compilation album, The Misconceptions of Us, featuring two new songs, “Selene 6.23” and “Better Off”.
On March 13, they released the Japanese single “Fire,” followed by their second Japanese album, Boys Meet U, on June 26. Two days later, they embarked on their second Japan concert tour, SHINee World 2013, beginning with the concert in Saitama.
On August 21, the group re-released the single, this time including the Japanese version of “Dream Girl”.
On October 14, SHINee released their fifth Korean EP, Everybody, which they promoted for one month, starting with a comeback performance on Mnet’s M! Countdown on October 10. After the release, the album charted number 1 on the Gaon Music Chart.
In November 2013, SHINee won the “Artist of the Year” award at the 2013 MelOn Music Awards for the first time. They also participated in SMTown Week, SM Entertainment’s week-long music festival in the same month.
On December 20, the group released a music video for their song “Colorful,” which was also part of the Everybody EP, as a gift to their fans for their continuous support. The music video includes clips of the members’ promotional activities in 2013. The day after, they opened their concert tour, The Wizard, with a performance at the Kintex in Ilsan.
2014: More Japanese promotions
In February 2014, SHINee was chosen as honorary ambassadors of Seoul’s Gangnam District, with the mayor of Gangnam District personally announcing the appointment of the members.
In March, they held their third Korean solo concert, “SHINee World III,” this time including shows in Latin America.
On April 2, the group released the live concert album for their second solo concert held in the past year.
Universal Music Japan released SHINee’s tenth Japanese single, “Lucky Star,” on June 25, their first release under EMI Records. This was followed by the release of their third Japanese album, I’m Your Boy, on September 24. Prior to the official release of the album, SHINee pre-released the tracks “Boys Meet U,” “3, 2, 1,” and “Luck Star”. From September to December, the group held their third Japan tour, beginning with the concert in Chiba on September 28. The tour consists of a total of 30 performances around Japan, with the final stop in Kobe on December 14 and an encore performance on March 14 and 15, 2015 in Tokyo Dome, the group’s first since their Japanese debut.
On December 11, they released their live concert album for “SHINee World III,” containing two CDs and a total of 33 tracks. On December 15, SM Entertainment announced that SHINee sold out the World Memorial Hall in Kobe, Japan with 16,000 fans attending on December 13 and 14. The 20-city Japan tour reportedly gathered 200,000 people.
By the end of 2014, Forbes listed SHINee as part of the Korea Power Celebrity rankings for the year.
2015: Odd and Married to the Music
In February 2015, SHINee was once again appointed as ambassadors, this time of the Ministry of Personnel Management to promote Korean music, dance, and fashion. Part of their responsibilities included performing at events around the world to encourage cultural exchanges between nations.
On February 17, they were the only Korean artists invited to China’s Lunar New Year Program, Chun Jie Wan Hui, hosted by Liaoning TV and is known to be the highest viewed show for 12 years among other shows with the same air time.
From May 15 to 17, SHINee kicked off their SHINee World IV tour with a three-day long concert at Seoul’s Olympic Park Gymnastics Gymnasium, where they also premiered new songs from their upcoming album.
The group’s fourth studio album, Odd, was released on May 18, followed by the release of the music video for the title track “View” the day after. “View,” which was written and produced by LDN Noise and member Jonghyun, became the most watched K-Pop music video in the world for the month of May.
Odd debuted at number 9 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart and number 1 on Billboard’s World Albums chart, selling more than 2,000 copies in the US. The repackaged version, Married To the Music, was released on August 3, with 4 additional songs. The commercial success of Odd and Married To the Music made SHINee one of only five male groups to make it into Gaon’s year-end digital chart (41st), and one of only four male groups to make it into the top 100 of the download and streaming charts (78th and 65th, respectively).
On October 25, the group released their 11th Japanese single, “Sing Your Song,” followed by the release of their 12th single, “DxDxD” on December 13. “DxDxD’ is the lead single for their fourth Japanese studio album of the same name set to be released in 2016.
2016: DxDxD, SHINee World 2016
On January 1, SHINee released their fourth full-length Japanese album, DxDxD, including the previously released singles and the Japanese version of “View”. The album topped the Oricon charts for 2 consecutive weeks. Part of the promotions for the album is the launch of the group’s fourth nationwide Japanese stadium tour, SHINee World 2016, beginning in Fukuoka’s Marine Messe on January 30 and ending at the Tokyo Dome on May 19, 2016.
The tour comprised of 20 shows in 9 cities, bringing the cumulative total of visitors, which SM Entertainment estimated to have gathered 350,000 people, bringing SHINee’s cumulative total to 1.12 million concert attendees in all their Japanese tours.
On May 18, the first day of the tour’s last stop in Tokyo, SHINee released their 13th Japanese single, “Kimi no Sei de,” and sold more than 69,000 copies in Japan.
The group also made it once again to Forbes’ Korea Power Celebrity list for the second time, and won Asia’s “Best Group Award” at the 23rd DongFang Music Awards in Shanghai, one of the biggest annual award ceremonies in China where they were the only K-Pop act invited to attend and perform.
Within the first half of 2016, SHINee ranked third in Japan for their concert audience numbers with approximately 364,000 people from 20 concerts.
On September 4, the group held their fifth solo concert, SHINee World V, in Seoul where they performed 4 new songs from their upcoming album.
On October 5, their album 1 of 1 was released, while the repackaged version, 1 and 1, was released on November 15 including five new songs.
The group’s 14th Japanese single, “Winter Wonderland,” was then released on December 21 and debuted at number two on the Oricon Charts after selling more than 80,000 copies in one week.
At the end of the year, SHINee was recognized for having the 6th biggest audience for their concerts in Japan with an estimated number of 510,000 people in 28 concerts, making them one of the only two foreign artists in the top 10 alongside BIGBANG.
2017 to present: Five, Onew’s hiatus, Jonghyun’s death
SHINee released their fifth full-length Japanese album, Five, on February 22, 2017, which they promoted during the launch their fifth Japan tour, SHIINee World 2017. The concert tour began on January 28 and ended in Tokyo on April 30 with a total of 25 concerts in 10 cities all over the country.
For the first half of 2017, SHINee ranked sixth in Japan in terms of groups with the highest number of concert audience. The group reportedly drew 338,238 people in their concert series and being the only Korean artist to make the top ten. Following the close of the concert tour, they added four more performances at Tokyo Dome and Kyocera Dome slated for September of the same year.
In August 2017, Onew went on a temporary hiatus from the group’s promotional activities following allegations of sexual harassment. SHINee’s leader was accused of touching a woman three times while intoxicated at a pub in Gangnam. Onew was reportedly investigated by the police for five hours before being released. The victim later dropped the charges.
At the end of August, SM Entertainment announced that Onew will be sitting out the group’s upcoming performances on September 2 and 3 at Tokyo Dome and on September 23 and 24 at Kyocera Dome. The concert shows have been scheduled earlier in the year as the group’s encore stages for the SHINee World 2017 tour.
On December 18, 2017, member Jonghyun, who has been battling with depression, died from an apparent suicide in a rented room in Gangnam. His funeral was held on December 21 with all of the other SHINee members in attendance as pallbearers.
2018: SHINee World The Best 2018, The Story of Light Trilogy
Following Jonghyun’s sudden passing, the remaining members of SHINee entered discussions with management on whether to continue with the scheduled concert series in Japan or postpone their activities temporarily. The group has decided to carry on promoting as a four-member group, also with the encouragement from Jonghyun’s family, especially his mother. In February 2018, SHINee embarked on their tour, “SHINee World The Best 2018 – From Now On”. The concert tour was described as the culmination of the group’s Japan promotions since their debut. It kicked off with a performance in Osaka Dome on February 17 and ended in Tokyo Dome on February 28. The four-day concert series reportedly drew in over 180,000 visitors in attendance.
On March 26, SHINee released their Japanese single, “From Now On”, posthumously featuring Jonghyun. Following the release of the single, the group released their first Japanese compilation, Shinee The Best From Now On.
SHINee announces Japan concert tour through handwritten letters
On January 9, SHINee members Onew, Key, Minho, and Taemin announced their plans to push through with their Japan concert tour in a touching handwritten letter addressed to their fans.
The letters are posted on the group’s Japanese website and talked of each of the member’s thoughts regarding Jonghyun’s passing and their decision to hold their Japanese concert tour “SHINee World The Best 2018 – From Now On”.
The group’s leader, Onew, expressed his gratitude to people “who protected and cared for” Jonghyun. He also apologized to fans for making them worry, perhaps referring to his almost year-long hiatus following an alleged harassment incident at a bar in Gangnam.
Onew was away from the public eye for most of 2017 and only went out in public after hearing news of Jonghyun’s death.
Read Onew’s letter in full:
“Hello, this is SHINee’s Onew.
First, I don’t know what to say. I’m thankful to those who protected and cared for our member whom I love so so much. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for making fans worry.
I thought I should not. I thought I couldn’t perform at the concert either. However, Jonghyun’s mother told me to never quit. And I thought about whether I could comfort many people who are hurting and missing .
So, I resolved to do my best despite being insufficient. I have many shortcomings, but I will do my best for SHINee. Even though the process will be difficult and tough, I will try with all of my strength.
Jonghyun, who will forever be a member of SHINee, will always be in our hearts and he will also be in fans’ hearts forever, so nothing will change. SHINee will continue to work hard in the future. Thank you.”
Key, meanwhile, said that he has deliberated on the thought of having a concert a lot before making up his mind. He also said that Jonghyun would have wanted for them to keep their promise to their fans to return to performing as a group.
Here is a full translation of Key’s letter:
“Hello, this is SHINee’s Key.
Thanks to everyone’s support, I’ve been able to pull myself together and am trying to return to daily life.
There are times when I see something that Jonghyun left behind and am brought to tears by the memories. But, even though it hurts, I’m trying to get through it all, thinking that Jonghyun is still with us.
We know that everyone is supporting SHINee’s return, and, though I deliberated on it a lot myself, I don’t think it would be right to give up everything and expect to heal. In the midst of a lot of concern, we have decided to carry on with our concert in Japan as planned.
This is what Jonghyun would have wanted for us, and I believe that keeping our promise to fans and showing ever yone a great performance is the most SHINee-like thing for us to do.
This year will be SHINee’s 10th anniversary. Thank you to everyone for always cheering us on and supporting us, and we will repay everyone with great performances.
I love you, and thank you.”
Minho, for his part, admitted that the members themselves aren’t sure whether they are making the right decision to hold the concert tour. But the group’s main rapper and vocalist said they believe that keeping their promise to fans is the right decision for now.
He also shared his concerns on how they are going to prepare a complete stage for the fans without Jonghyun.
After giving it a lot thought and discussion, the members have carefully made the decision to hold our concerts in Japan, and we’ve decided to write these letters to express our feelings in a calm manner.
As I’m writing this letter, I’m going through a lot of different thoughts and emotions, but I will convey my feelings to you calmly.
I know there will be some who are happy with our decision and some who are concerned. We ourselves don’t know which is the right decision to make, but for now, we believe it’s right to keep the promises we made with you.
The memories we made with our members, staff members, and fans are all precious and irreplaceable to us. Nothing can ever replace Jonghyun, so we were worried as to how we would prepare a complete stage for you all. However, we were able to put our whole hearts into it, knowing that Jonghyun will be a part of all our future performances as SHINee.
As we and Jonghyun had promised with you all, whenever we get exhausted and want to give up, whenever our hearts get weak and we want to run away, we will remember that your hands give us the most strength and we will keep singing for you all.
The extent of our struggle is more than anyone can imagine, but we trust that you will give us the strength to overcome it. We, as SHINee, are grateful for your support every moment of the day, and we will put our hearts into dedicating our time to you and Jonghyun. I think your warm support will help us get through these cold days of winter. Thank you.”
In Taemin’s letter, he admitted that he wasn’t confident about the idea of having a concert after what happened in the last month. But he said that he is always most at peace and happiest whenever he’s with the members and with fans, and he didn’t want to say goodbye to them.
Honestly, I wasn’t that confident about the concert at first. However, I want to keep my promise with fans and I don’t want to say goodbye to SHINee’s members.
When I look back at the times I was most at peace and happiest, it was when I was with the members and when I was with fans. Thus, I had all the more affection for the name of SHINee and our team members, so I didn’t want to give up even more.
I know that the future will not be easy, but I will do my best so that SHINee’s name can shine for a bit longer. Since these members gave me such beautiful memories and I’m so thankful to everyone, I want to cherish these memories for a long time.
I want to receive love as SHINee in the future. I want to overcome and confidently stand on stage to show SHINee to our member in heaven. I’m very sorry for making fans worry. Please look over us in the future. Stay healthy in the cold weather and happy new year.”
This is the first time that Minho and Taemin expressed their thoughts in relation to Jonghyun’s untimely death. Onew and Key both have previously posted handwritten letters on their respective Instagram accounts after Jonghyun’s burial ceremony.
The Japan shows are scheduled to be held in Osaka and Tokyo next month. There will be two shows to be held at the Osaka City Dome on February 17 and 18, while the Tokyo shows will be held at the Tokyo Dome on February 26 and 27.
Stay tuned for more updates.
**All translations are from Soompi.
SHINEE’s Key confirmed to make solo debut after 10 years
After ten years in the industry, SHINEE’s Key is set to make his solo debut.
Industry representatives reported on October 11 that the SHINee member is in the final stages of preparation for his solo debut.
In response to the reports, SM Entertainment confirmed that Key is preparing a solo album being planned for release in November.
This will be his very first release as a solo artist since his debut with SHINee in 2008.