His name is Minho

There’s something about finals-induced panic that makes one regress into the deepest, darkest corners of the heart, pulling out all the old vices in an attempt to hang onto anything that might resemble the image of past unadulterated happiness.

In other news: It’s been a while, Choi Minho. How you doin’?

(And don’t worry — this post isn’t all nonsensical fangirly drivel, so, um, yeah. More after the jump.)

There are countless reasons why Minho doesn’t belong in the K-pop industry, but like it or not, this kid is here to stay. To be honest, a part of me is really irked whenever talentless people are able to rise to popularity solely on the merit of their looks or charisma. It bothers me that there are tons of talented people out there who won’t ever get a chance to stand on a concert stage, while at the same time there will be a never ending supply of untalented-but-good-lookin’ pop stars that get to jump around in front of an audience every other day of the week. In essence, this is the greatest criticism of pop music, that it ignores the “truly talented” people in exchange for the easy marketability of outward appearances.

By the rules of logic, this criticism should apply to K-pop moreso than to any other genre, because there simply is not another music industry out there that rewards lack of talent as readily and as affluently as K-pop. In the K-pop world, not only are people casted off the streets of Seoul all the time, but they are celebrated for it once they make their debut. Being street-casted is nothing to be ashamed of, says K-pop, and the legions of screaming fans and their undying passion make a point to verify it.

Obviously, there are plenty of reasons to loathe the existence of this phenomenon, particularly when it’s a case of a street-casted idol who clearly does not give two ishes about living up to the privilege of being a celebrity despite having done nothing to earn it (read: Heechul). But I tend to believe that these cases are in the minority. The lack of talent in K-pop is significant, but that doesn’t mean that the efforts of the so-called “untalented idols” shouldn’t be appreciated, and it also doesn’t mean that we as an audience can’t enjoy their work.

Minho is a classic example of someone who has absolutely no place in the entertainment world; it makes me want to claw at something whenever I see Minho being desperately shoved into entertainment roles that he isn’t fit to take. He’s not a talented actor, or singer, or dancer, or comedian — but as an idol, he’s stuck in this industry for god-knows-how-long and it’d do him good to make the most of it.

I found his solo performance during SHINee’s Japanese tour to be really striking, and I wasn’t really sure why until I got to thinking about Minho’s approach to performance and his ill-placed position as an “entertainer.” Minho’s performance didn’t do a good job of showing him off as a good dancer, as it didn’t exhibit the marks of good dancing in the artistic sense. It was stiff, lifeless, rehearsed, mechanical. If the spirit behind dance is fueled by the spirit of the dancer, then Minho’s lifeless performance would have meant very little.

But upon further thought, it occurred to me that Minho’s spirit isn’t that of a “dancer.” Minho’s performance was stiff and mechanical, but also athletic, powerful, precise, consistent. In this way, Minho’s performance really was a reflection of his spirit as a person. For him to try to copy the grace and rhythm of a so-called “dancer” would ultimately make for a highly disingenuous performance.

I guess what ultimately drew me to Minho’s performance was the fact that despite the fact that the choreography was highly complex and fit for a highly trained, highly talented “dancer,” he didn’t dance like a dancer. He danced like an athlete — a style that is just so atypical of anything one would ever see in dance that it can’t help but inspire intrigue. Even though Minho nailed every move perfectly, his performance probably wouldn’t score many points with professional dance judges because of its lack of emotion and liveliness. But for a casual viewer, his performance removes any preconceived notions of what dance should be, instead presenting it in a context that is unorthodox, and in many ways, refreshing.

It’s performances like these that make me appreciate the “untalented” idols in K-pop. While there’s no denying that these idols aren’t talented in the traditional sense, it’s really interesting to watch people who are in the K-pop industry purely by chance pursue challenges that are outside of their natural aptitudes. No one expects an aspiring soccer player to be dancing to Chris Brown. But he did it anyway. The sheer paradox vested in him and his performance brought a new dimension to an otherwise worn-out system driven largely by the ambiguous idea of “talent.” There will probably never come a day when Minho will be considered a “talented” entertainer, but for him to play the role of an entertainer while still exercising his natural talents makes him a unique figure.

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  • Qoa

    what is talent, actually?! minho dances well.. maybe he lack the ‘excited’ but he is talented. look at him move! he has his own creativity.. maybe you didn’t look at it in my way..  he maybe not a great singer but he is a dancer! an idol! watching him dancing salsa make me drool………………….

  • ky

    Read this just after I commented on another post. You really nailed it on the conundrum that is Minho-as-entertainer-personality. His solo performances are in no way ‘bad’ but I couldn’t watch past 15 seconds because it was a little too apparent that he was going through the choreography in his head. On the other hand, Taemin covering a Korn song should be the weirdest thing ever to watch but the kid is a natural performer and though it’s still kinda funny, you get the sense that he’s really putting himself out there onstage. Minho is earnest and the sincerity behind his efforts is an importart factor to his popularity I think.