It’s criminal that this is the first music video fashion review where I talk about Taemin.
Just solely Taemin. I’ve heavily dropped hints that I’m a huge Taemin (and SHINee) fan, so the lack of Taemin and SHINee content on Ash Talks Kpop is kinda surprising. That will be changing in the future. It’s on my longggg list of videos to get to. I plan on covering just about all of my faves and really diving into second gen idols and groups on here too. Not just the new stuff.
So If y’all have a specific video you’d like me to tackle first, let me know. It’s probably going to be at random. Or maybe recent to debut order. But today I want to talk about Taemin’s newest release “Criminal”.
I’ve mentioned previously that Taemin’s comeback was delayed due to an injury he had earlier this year. “2 Kids” was released as a prerelease about a month ago to prepare us for Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 1 album and era. “2 Kids” is an alright song for me. It’s not something I go back to listen to despite it being a mid-tempo Taemin song. Those are usually my favorite.
I do love a Taemin video that focuses on his dancing though and “2 Kids” is essentially Taemin dancing in the middle of a street in Europe for five minutes. So when we started to get teasers for “Criminal” and NGDA, a binch was ready. Taemin has stuck to the same sound since “Move” and I’m here for it. I love Taemin’s earlier releases relying so heavily on R&B but I feel like this sound suits him more artistically.
Taemin’s solo aesthetic is avant-garde. Visually speaking there are tons of accessories like rings, earrings, and garter belts. His actual clothing is somewhat simple. He wears a lot of suits, skinny jeans, leather pants, slim fit trousers, long sleeve shirts, fitted tank tops, no shirts, and turtlenecks to name the main basics. Color wise he tends to stick to more black, red, and white, but he does dabble in other neutrals and brighter colors.
Because the colors he wears tend to be more muted, except for when he’s in brighter colors like red, it’s the accessories that stand out in a Taemin look. Hair color wise we usually get black or blonde Taemin. Sometimes he’ll surprise us with a sliver, dirty blonde almost brunette, but we kinda don’t get colors like blue, purple or pink unless it’s a group comeback(SHINee) or debut (SuperM).
When we talk about Taemin’s music being avant-garde there’s definitely a house/dance undertone in everything. Even when Taemin does a ballad, you still end up swaying. I’m not the best at describing music, so I’ll just summarize it with this picture:
Anyway getting back to my expectations for “Criminal”. I figured it’d be a bop, and I was right. Taemin does what I wish sooooo many of my other faves did. He releases one of, if not the best song from the album as the title track. When you release a strong title track it sets the tone for the rest of the era and gives people the idea of what the rest of the album will be like.
When you release a tropical house song as a title track then the rest of the album is full of ballads, that’s gonna give people whiplash and turn them off. I hate it when I discover a new artist and their album sounds absolutely NOTHING like their single. Like what is that? What are you trying to accomplish? Why do you not want a solid fan base?
When Taemin releases a song, you have pretty much one of three sounds, R&B (something like “Press Your Number”), upbeat pop/dance/house mix (“something like “Danger” or “Want”), or a ballad/mid-tempo song (like “Sayonara Hitori”). He’s not gonna come out of the blue with something polarizing like a rock/nu metal song. You pretty much know what you’re gonna get with a Taemin track.
He does dabble a little into trap on “Black Rose” but it’s subtle and not too jarring since Taemin has had a rap feature before in his discography, it’s just been awhile. So I enjoyed the change up. “Black Rose” is my second favorite song from NGDA. My favorite non-title track is “Nemo”. I love me a good mid-tempo Taemin song.
The rest of Act 1 didn’t really blow me away like those two, well three included “Criminal” did. Which is fine. He’s not dropped from my fave list for releasing my least favorite album to date. My guess is preparing for SuperM’s debut and comeback has some influence on that. Will I still buy the physical copy at some point to add to my Taemin collection? Hell yeah.
So now that I’ve gotten all that out of my system, let’s get into the clothes! There’s four main looks in “Criminal”.
A nice break from Wonho’s eleven omg he made me put in WORK. Let’s get started!
Look 1: Black Suit with an Eye Patch
This first look is pretty simple. Taemin wears a black suit,
burnt white button down shirt, and black tie. The accessories here are major though. He’s brought back an eye patch (I think Key was the last SHINee member to wear one), he’s got on these black gloves with huge belt buckle on them and huge sliver rings on top of them.
This look gives me Satan’s office vibes. I love it. I love the backup dancers looks throughout “Criminal” as well. I love when the dancers aren’t excluded from cute looks. The red suits the guys wear and the red two piece outfits the girls wear here…love it. Some dancers are wearing masks as well. That’s a call back to “Want” right?
Look 2: Shiny Man
This is the last look we see at the end of “Criminal”. I’m salty because we don’t get a proper full body shot of this look until the end. I wanted to get a screenshot of it but there was always something in the way. The button to SHINee’s YouTube channel, recommended videos to watch next, or the red line that tells you how much time you have left on the current video you’re watching.
Outside that inconvenience, I really love how editorial this look is. My favorite part of this look is the square sequin(?) thing he’s wearing here. His pants confuse me. They’re folded down and it looks like they’re black and paint splatter print. I’m not sure if this is objectively a good look because we don’t have a lot of great shots for me to develop a solid take on them.
There’s a lot going on here. Taemin also wears more silver rings in this look but this time without gloves. I think his hair here is sliver? Or like a blue silver mix? Idk but I like that too.
Look 3: Gucci Down
I feel like Kai has worn this look before but it might just be my brain’s strong association of the two, Kai = Gucci like Taehyung = Gucci. This look also reminds me a bit of “Married to the Music“. I think it’s all the colors in this scene. There’s also a bit of a retro vibe in this scene too.
I love the gold brooches here. I think it matches his silk shirt nicely. I love this preppy ass blazer and I live for the wide leg trousers. I can’t forget the gold silk gloves Taemin wears here and gold rings this time. This is probably my favorite look in “Criminal” because I would wear this in a heartbeat.
Look 4: Black and White
This last look is my second favorite in “Criminal”. I love this harness/jacket thing Taemin wears here. This outfit reminds me of something NCT 127 or U would wear. The baggy trousers and silver chain belt give me a bit of “Simon Says” vibes in particular but NCT U is so experimental I could see them in something like this too.
I also really like the background setting for this look. It’s this stark white futuristic theme going on. It’s such a 180 from the previous look where there was a warm retro vibe. Now we’re looking at a room with nothing in it.
The backup dancers in this scene also have interesting outfits this time too. They’ve got on masks, eye patches, thigh high pantyhose, and poof sleeves. The guys outfits are basic but just enough to not take attention away from Taemin. The girls have my favorite outfit out of the dancer looks in “Criminal”. I need one of these dresses.
These are some other screenshots I took that I thought were neat closeups. I’m curious how much of Covid-19’s influence caused the heavy use of face masks in Criminal. I wonder how impactful this will have on western fashion. Face masks have been worn throughout Asia forever due to fine dust and other reasons. But in the west, America specifically mask wearing is totally new and not really being adapted well.
Taemin wears soooooo many rings in “Criminal”. I wish he had a dedicated fashion/style account like other idols to get a better idea of what designers these rings are from. The best I could find were related to SuperM. I used to follow a Taemin style account on IG, but they’ve been closed for about two years now.
Alright so those are my thoughts on “Criminal”. What do y’all think about Criminal/NGDA Act 1 era? SuperM’s first full length album comes out on the 25th…do you feel like SM is wack for giving Taemin’s third album what three weeks to breath before promoting his subunit stuff with SuperM? Or do you feel like that’s just how the cookie crumbles due to the previous delay with him taking time to heal?
I’m mixed. Taemin is an industry veteran, so he doesn’t need the long promo period like if this was his first year in the biz. But with that seniority, his solo work should be more of a priority. Time and money was spent into creating this project and I don’t want to feel like it got pushed to the side before it had time to get any attention. Tell me your thoughts in the comments.
Update 9/29/2020: Here’s a link to some of Taemin’s jewelry in Criminal.
I have to catch up on September new releases. So idk who’s next. Y’all will just have to check back in to see. So until then…