I don't know about you guys, but I certainly wasn't expecting Taemin to be the first member of SHINee to go solo. Yes, SM has been pushing and promoting him like crazy, but I personally never thought of him as solo material. He is, however, an excellent dancer so I knew I was going to get a great performance that thank goodness wasn't choreographed by Tony Testa. BTS, on the other hand, did not surprise me by announcing their second comeback this year and release of their first full album. This group is really talented and impress both as artists and performers. The teaser photos did not excite me very much however, as I found them a bit generic and unoriginal. It wasn't something I hadn't seen before, and it wasn't a concept unlike what they've done before either.
So with that in mind, I did not anticipate any of these comebacks as much as I probably should have considering I love both acts dearly, but I still had hopes that they would pleasantly surprise me by being nothing short but amazing. Let's find out how well they did, shall we?
Taemin's video came out first, so it's probably suitable to start with his "Danger" that was released on August 15th via SM's official YouTube channel. The concept for SHINee's youngest member's solo debut was clearly stepping outside of what you might have expected when you think about him, but I'm sure that was what SM was aiming for in the first place. This guy has been desperate to break away from his "fairy-like flower boy" image and show that he is indeed, a grown man that is neither frail nor as innocent as people like to view him. For this video, he truly shows another side of himself that some might not be familiar with, and while I think it's an overall mediocre video it serves its purpose well.
I feel like the goal that SM and Taemin was trying to achieve was right in front of them, but they managed to miss it by a minimal distance. This video could have been fantastic because all the elements needed were right there, but it fails to make the best use of them. It's not a sole performance-based video, but it's not purely aesthetic either and therefore comes across as a bit lacking on both ends. I like the Michael Jackson inspired visuals and I can fully see where they were going with it, but it's missing something to take it to the next level. SM tries to be artsy and innovatory, but it doesn't feel as such even though they're clearly trying. What they succeeded in doing for f(x)'s "Red Light" comeback isn't working properly here, unfortunately. Too much of it is still commonly seen in other, similar videos and although Taemin looks gorgeous and performs amazingly, he's not given the correct conditions to truly present himself in the way he was meant to. I know I'm not making any sense at all, but what I'm trying to say is that while this concept had enormous potential to be different and exciting, it ends up being quite ordinary anyway.
I do enjoy the choreography a tremendous amount though, and is probably the part I find the most interesting about the video. Taemin is one of, if not the, best dancers in the K-pop industry, and I pride myself on having him in my bias group. It's obvious that SM wants to promote this side even more, and they have done so by giving him this awesome dance routine that enhances all of his strong sides as a dancer. It's truly an experience just watching him move his body in stage, as every single twist and turn is powerful and precise in way that you have to see to understand. The song is also a highlight, and although I feel it sounds a bit too much like a typical SHINee song for me to try and tell apart Taemin's individual style, it's still pretty damn good. His vocals sound great and despite me not being a fan of his lower vocal register that's being predominately used here, I can still appreciate it.
I know I say this all the time, but this 7-member boy group is just one of the most promising ones on the market as of now. BTS never fail to deliver an awesome performance with high-energy dancing, singing and rapping. They are also prominent in contributing to their own material, as the rappers write a lot of their own raps and compose lyrics, and continue to put out one great song after another. As a fan, I should have been going crazy over this new comeback and debut album release, but I really haven't. I have been really busy and all now that school has started again, but that shouldn't really be an excuse for at least sparing 5 minutes and watch the video. The teaser photos and video just seemed very generic to me, and this is surprising because BTS have been nothing but ordinary since their debut last spring.
The video deals with the theme of breakup, and it shows the members trying to deal with being dumped in their own ways. There's plenty more dancing scenes than plot, which I'm thankful for because I'm worried about what would have happened if they had an actress to star in it. Unlike "Boy In Love" this video sees no violence being practiced against another human, but the lyrics are all the more violent. I don't know why these kind of lyrics keep on appearing but it really doesn't sit well with me, and considering the recent domestic abuse scandal involving Hallyu star Kim Hyun Joong it irks me even more. Domestic aggression is not "cute", "romantic" or "manly" no matter the context. I get that you're angry about feeling confused, rejected or getting dumped, but violence is never an answer and should not be promoted by a group of guys that influence thousands of young girls. I'm not sure they even realize just how much power they have as public figures, and I feel like with these recent comebacks they've completely failed to utilize it.
Apart from the troublesome concept, they look and sound amazing and the dancing is spot on (seriously, these boys are easily on par with groups like SHINee and Infinite), but it's not enough to impress me this time around. I really hope they switch things up next time, both lyrically and video-wise, as "Danger" leaves a lot unwanted.
As you can see, both videos end up at the exact same score, but there's still a clear winner in my mind. Considering both the song, video and concept, Taemin wins by a milestone. He has really proven himself to be able to work as a solo artist, despite me initial beliefs. Granted, he could still use more work on his stage presence and audience interaction, but he is holding up pretty well without the help of his group mates. BTS have let me down with this comeback, and I have not yet listened to the album so I can't say too much about that, but the song and video that I have seen have did not succeed in winning me over. I still support them, obviously, but as of now I'm totally satisfied seeing Taemin hold that #1 trophy.