SHINee’s Key and Tae-min are K-pop popular solo artists today who first found fame as members of boy bands
As with any band, some members’ popularity will overshadow that of their fellow bandmates. That’s often the case with K-pop groups where there are dedicated fan bases for each member. The next logical step for each of them is to seek careers as solo artists.
Members of South Korea’s hottest boy bands such as Shinee and Exo have proven they have what it takes to find fame as solo artists. We look at some of the most successful solo acts in Korean music today and trace their boy band roots.
Key, who is also known as Kim Ki-bum or the main dancer of SHINee, found fame as a solo artist outside of the band. He released his very first solo album on the tenth anniversary of SHINee with the album Face back in 2018. He hosted a concert and performed in Japan to establish a position as a solo act. He recently released a new song “Hate That”. According to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, the new album was released this September.
Key also planned an online concert called Beyond Live – Key: Groks in the Keyland on the 26th of September, which was broadcasted via Naver V Live’s Beyond Live.
SM Entertainment has a great eye when it comes to finding talented artists. Tae-min, another member of SHINee, also transitioned into a solo career. Four years before Key’s debut as a solo artist, Tae-min gained enormous success by releasing his first mini album Ace, which ranked second place on Billboard World Album Chart and took first place consecutively on various South Korean main broadcasting systems.
2017 was a special year for him – his second full album Movie was a huge success and he hosted his first solo concert. Tae-min has released three full albums in total as a solo artist and is recently serving military duty in the military band.
Baekhyun, a member of Exo, launched his mini solo album Bambi, which sold more than a million digital copies within 20 days of its release. The album was a gift for his fans before enlisting in the army. It ranked first place on different music charts including South Korea’s Melon, China’s QQ Music Chart, and United World Chart.
That, however, wasn’t the first time Baekhyun hit a million in sales. His earlier EP Delight was also downloaded more than a million times. He’s the second person ever in K-pop history to sell more than a million albums both as a group and a solo artist. The first is Seo Taiji, the legendary K-pop and rap group member of Seo Taiji and Boys.
Kai’s solo debut was an immediate hit. Eight years after debuting with Exo, he released his first solo album Kai in November 2020. The album includes six different tracks with powerful performances. He rode on his fame as a main dancer of EXO and launched several dance hits. His single “Mmmh” ranked first on iTunes in 50 different countries including Canada, France, Denmark, Australia, Singapore and Russia.
The lead rapper of K-pop boy band Winner and star of the television series Show Me The Money, Mino launched his solo career at the same time he arrived on the scene with his band in 2014. The band’s debut album 2014 S/S featured his solo track “I’m Him”, which gave fans a preview of his potential as a solo artist. In 2016, he released his first mini solo album Body and released his first full album XX in 2018. He then expanded his repertoire into songwriting and music production.
Leader of the boy band Infinite, Kim Sung-kyu has been making chart-topping hits with both his band and as a soloist. In 2012, his very first solo project Another Me was released on the official website of the group and it landed fifth in album sales for solo male K-pop artists. Known for his incredible vocal abilities, he also dabbled in television with appearances in variety and game shows as well as dramas. While his solo career has taken off in recent years, the singer had to take time off after contracting Covid-19 in June this year.