Taemin is the name on everyone’s lips this week as he has made his official return. His second mini-album has already caused a stir and hit multiple charts, To celebrate, we are looking into the intense visuals of the title track, “WANT” which set the tone for another memorable comeback.

On the surface; the music video is a sensual feast for the eyes. It appears purely an artistic performance, but layers of narrative hide among the lavish production. Taemin is well-known for his dance prowess so it is inevitable that it would take centre stage, similar to his last single, “Move”. In its production; it is a main visual point as he performs with various back-up dancers, and alternating between the casual group “pictorial” scenes & the neon-drenched solo shots. His movement throughout hails to the great pop performers of the seventies and eighties, well known for their overt sexuality such as Prince and David Bowie.

Aside from the performance, the directors gave more than enough opportunities to aim for fans’ emotions; overloading each scene with the homme fatale aesthetic. Taemin pulls this off effortlessly, breaking the fourth wall as he gazes into the camera often and utilising every second to keep viewers hooked; Taemin watches you through magnifying glasses, even viewing you from behind curtains like you are the one on show.

The overtly sexual lyrics are also reminiscent of Prince. Bloodhound Gang once summed up Prince’s lyrics with this perfect reference in ‘The Bad Touch’:

And you do the kind of stuff that only Prince would sing about

In Kpop the more obvious sexual implication is mostly left to Jay Park and XIA, and certainly not done so strongly by SM artists. The themes of the lyrics cover the idea that you cannot control wanting Taemin, you will come back again and again and you will let him have this control over you. Visually this is displayed through the senses – we see masks that impede sight and speech, costumes that restrict touch and sensitivity to particular areas of skin.
Taemin’s fashion also plays further into the idea of control with bondage aspects in the construction of outfits and materials such as leather. He seems to carry the image of a King, growing and evolving and in charge.

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The inclusion of snakes plays on two major themes linked to the sensuality of the mv. The snake is one of the oldest symbols for sin, given its roots in the story of Adam and Eve. The control and bondage kinks referenced can be seen as a sin, particularly in more reserved cultures like that of Korea, but Taemin’s closeness to the reptiles encourages the encounter he is drawing you in to. Snakes are also a phallic symbol, and though the rest of the MV is relatively obvious in its sexuality, this is one of the more subtle references – not so surprising given SM tend to be more reserved in their sexual innuendo.

The setting feels simplistic, though is beautifully considered. The red lighting, mist, iconic kpop ‘box’ sets, these all feed into a style reminiscent of the neo-noir styles of directors such as David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet). Every implication and movement feels like a mystery you want to know more about. “WANT” shows that excessive production or major concepts can look effortless.

Hype for Taemin’s comeback is officially in full swing and we are yet to see a full live performance or a dance music video for more comparisons. Share your thoughts on ‘WANT’ with us through the comments and on our social media as we would love to hear more from SHINee and Taemin fans.

Taemin’s new mini-album; “WANT” is now available on all leading music platforms.

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