Concept? SHINee does not have it.

With all these mismatched clues I doubt even Sherlock Holmes himself could piece together this mystery.

When eighteen months elapsed since the last Korean release of Lucifer back in July 2010, Shawols began itching for something new. On March 8 2012 a new teaser indicating the release of fourth mini-album Sherlock spread across the internet.  Now that all five teasers have surfaced—including a group shot—I really do have to question what was going through SM Entertainment’s mind.

SHINee Sherlock

Due to the ridiculous anticipation surrounding SHINee’s comeback SM Entertainment could have released utter rubbish and Shawols would still be flailing left, right and centre. Clearly, that’s what SM elected to do. Speculation around the internet has labelled SHINee’s teaser concept as anywhere from ‘pretty French artsy boys’ to ‘cheap 70s porn’ but no one seems to come up with an accurate and cohesive idea. To add to the confusion, the latest teaser image featuring all five members illustrates a group of vagabonds in rainbow crochet. Shawols and netizens alike simply have no idea what SHINee are trying to be and with all these mismatched clues I doubt even Sherlock Holmes himself could piece together this mystery.


Let’s start with Minho, which was by my calculation an awful choice for the initial teaser. With his muscle definition all but melted away (or photoshopped away, by some netizens’ understanding) there is nothing at all sexual or even pretty about Minho’s shoot. What I see is a perverse image of an adolescent on the cusp of manhood entering into a bizarre role play where he has assumed the character of an infant awaiting his mother. This is perhaps thanks to the bottle pressed to his lips but regardless, this image is disturbing. And don’t even get me started on that hair.


Taemin’s teaser had noonas everywhere shouting child porn. Ignoring the fact he turns nineteen this year (twenty by Korea’s reckoning) this image does have a notion of innocence played off against intense sexuality. No doubt Taemin’s appearance is at the heart of many netizens’ concerns: he does have the body of a young adolescent and a face devoid of all aspects of masculinity. That long, lavender hair does not help things at all. Taemin’s collection of teasers is by far the most erotic and the disgusted outcry it was bound to illicit has certainly achieved one very important thing: the K-pop world is now talking about Sherlock.


I am not at all surprised Onew bucked the trend of shirtless images. Being the oldest of the group he was one member I was comfortable with seeing half-naked, bested only by Jonghyun, but—of course—shirtless Onew was not to be. Despite his teasers being the most uninspiring of the lot, it’s nice to see him alive and well given his MIA status since New Years’ Eve. Welcome back, Leader.


I found Key’s teaser to be disappointingly bland considering his status as resident diva amongst the group. Aside from his green hair—which is obviously just a temporary rinse—Key is relatively normal. His shoot, however, does pick up the decadent feel that was lost with Onew’s teasers but is nowhere near as scandalous as Taemin’s or Minho’s. The main point which had Shawols talking was his ‘lip ring’, which to me looks more like glittery herpes than any form of body piercing.

Jonghyun 'SHERLOCK'

Finally it was Jonghyun’s turn and for once SM Entertainment did not disappoint. Well, sort of. Shawols—myself included—were crying out for a shirtless Jonghyun since the noticeable bulking of his muscles at the MBC Gayo Daejun last year. Although we were blessed with nothing more than a taunting nipple, he was at least not wrapped in a blanket like dear Onew. This collection of images, however, are even further removed from a cohesive concept as they are more or less devoid of any theme altogether. With the exception of the last picture, which was obviously cropped from a group photograph, Jonghyun’s images are all headshots showing no setting whatsoever. Obviously SM thought that a little nip-slip was enough to placate Shawols into thinking the images and overall concept was flawless. How wrong they were.


Last and certainly least is the group photograph released yesterday. Let’s pretend for a moment the individual teaser images were inspired by French decadence. If that were the case then how in holy Shisus’ name did they end up looking like a bunch of hippies crammed into the back of a van on their way to Woodstock? I will never have an answer for this. I can only hope the album itself is brilliant to compensate for this wankery. But with SM labelling Sherlock as ‘experimental pop’ I am not holding my breath and instead raising an eyebrow. I am certainly curious, to say the least.

The funny thing about this whole botched concept is SM Entertainment insisting the whole mini-album is inspired by the exploits of Sherlock Holmes. Excuse me, but what?


7 responses

  1. Thank you for this post. Like I think some Shawols are just so freaking happy that SHINee is making a comeback that they’d even be happy seeing them in trash bags. The concept just does not….make…sense. At all.

  2. Having read all of the Sherlock Holmes books, I started regarding him with respect and admiration for his intelligence and wit. In behalf of SHINee, SM, KPop and its entirety, I so want to say sorry to Sherlock and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for being used in this thing they call concept. I am so confused with this one. Sherlock Holmes, certainly doesn’t look like a hippie, and I never really thought of him as one. So how come they thought of having Sherlock as a concept, and ended up with this?

    Well that’s image-wise, because the album seem to be quite interesting. “With the Sherlock Holmes concept as the album’s main theme, all 7 songs on the record will act as separate chapters to the story of Holmes.” How I wish this’ll turn out good.

  3. Theres this blog which talked abt the sherlock concept thing. And it does make sense. Im not a shawol myself, but im pretty convince with the statements and hypothesis of the author of the blog. And one thing i took out after i read is that, this is a piece of implicit art. Lemme check the web for yall aite

  4. THEORY 1: Kshawols on Shakizi are saying that the concept behind the teaser photos are that Onew’s the murderer, with blue all over his teaser photos. If you read Sherlock Holmes, you would know that blue paint was visible at a murder scene and on the murderer’s hands, etc and Key’s the victim. Taemin would be the witness and Minho’s like the mastermind behind the murder or something. So Jonghyun is definitely Sherlock Holmes. I pulled out this picture and I do see the link. I wonder if you guys do. Onew’s hands are covered in blue paint, so he’s the murderer. He has a ring on his finger, which is orange and this may mean that Onew and Minho knew each other. Minho’s hands are covered in Orange paint. You see how Key’s hands (with the pink bands) have traces of blue and orange. That most probably means that Key have had contact with Onew and Minho and since minho was the mastermind behind the murder, it implies that they may have known each other and are acquainted. Taemin’s hands are yellow with the slightest trace of blue on it, which means he may have seen the murder from a distance or it isn’t very clear. His yellow paint corresponds to Jonghyun’s yellow bands so this might mean that Jjong and Taemin may have met up regarding the case. Either way, they made contact. Jjong’s hands have orange paint on it, with blue rings and orange rings. Well, I don’t think I have to spell it out right? He found the murdered and the motive behind the murder. Which is a given since Sherlock Holmes is a genius. (credits to the owner.)

  5. I think your review definitely have some insights, however it seems like the writer was trying too hard to point out faults/scandalous to make the review somewhat more ‘critical.’ That’s my true feeling to be honest.

    • Thank you muchly for your honest opinion.

      The premise of this particular blog is to be overly critical and nitpick tiny faults. If you feel as though I have tried too hard in tearing it apart, I have essentially succeeded in what I set out to do.

      Thanks again for your comment.

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