In his 13 years active in the K-Pop industry, Kim Kibum (better known by his stage name, Key) has already debuted three times. Firstly, in 2008 with the hugely successful boy group, SHINee. Secondly, in 2014 in a duo made up of Key and Infinite’s Woohyun. And finally, in 2018 with his first solo LP.
While many K-Pop groups are unable to beat the dreaded 7 year curse, in which group members are ususally forced to decided whether to stay with their company or end their contract, SHINee is only a few months away from doubling this record. To this day, Key remains relevant in an everchanging industry that demands so much from its artists. Therefore, it begs us to ask the question, how has he managed to maintain his popularity in the fast-fashion-esque world of K-Pop?
Firstly, there isn’t a part of the entertainment industry that Key hasn’t tackled. Whilst being the ace of his group, Key has also particpated in musicals, acted in popular K-dramas, and worked as a fashion designer. Most recently, he has been a regular cast member on the Korean variety show, Amazing Saturday, alongside labelmate and close friend, Girls’ Generation’s, Kim Taeyeon. Key has left his mark on all generations in South Korea and across the globe too, as highlighted by his featuring on Years & Years’ remix of their song ‘If You’re Over Me’.
Having released his mini album, ‘Bad Love’, on September 27th, Key has once again become the talk of the town. In an interview for MMTG, Key mentioned how the concept for his LP has been in the works for many years. It is a culmination ideas and genres that Key has wanted to sample. From the galactic teasers and melodramatic outfits that only he could pull off, fans could instantly recognise Key’s signature flare before the unveiling of the album. ‘Bad Love’ contains tracks that emulate SHINee’s retro concepts and ballads that showcase his own abilites and character away from the group. The compatiblity between Key and SM Entertainment’s usual producers aided Key in his journey to gaining his first music show win at MBC’s Show! Music Core.
Key will always be an asset to SM Entertainment, through continuously exposing the company to new audiences. His hands on approach to the production of both his solo and group work shows off his assiduous nature that draws in new fans every year. With K-Pop fans becoming increasingly interested in self-producing artists, Key’s popularity can only continue to rise.
SHINee World, SHINee’s fanbase, and non-fans alike are curious as to what Key and his group’s next move will be. Whatever direction he decides to go in, Key’s next adventure is likely to be astonishing and will bring something new to the world of K-Pop.
Image courtesy of Sebastian Ervi.