A lot has happened in Choi Minho’s life since “I’m Home” was released as part of SM’s Station project and his own pre-enlistment farewell tour:

He enlisted in the Marines, stayed on base for as long as he could, stayed in his uniform for as long as he could, made his own Instagram account, dyed his hair red, convinced SM to give Shinee the funky hip hop track “Don’t Call Me”, became part of the second generation renaissance, went blonde again, gave us an iconic rap in “Atlantis”, was his typical competitive and athletic self on variety shows like Law of the Jungle and Run for the Money, openly bickered with the producers on his sports-themed radio show, released another Korean solo single, held a bunch of fanmeets, completed Shinee’s legendary Plagiarism Series with Chase, had popular appearances in a couple K-dramas before starring in The Fabulous, celebrated Shinee’s 15th anniversary with album Hard, held the first Shinee concert in years, released his first Japanese solo singles, became a golf nut, had fans defending and celebrating his gorgeous tan skin, starred in box office hit New Normal, got called a “basic Korean man” on social media, and his biggest achievement of all, his crowning glory: winning our 2021 March Madness bracket

His latest digital solo single, “Stay for a Night”, maintains the mellow soundscape uncovered in the latter half of Chase, while lending a more boyish charm to a more positive outlook to tackling loneliness after a string of increasingly melancholic MVs. 

In “Stay for a Night”, reams of paper chase Minho as he tries to do the work of healing, symbolising all that Minho’s wants to say, despite his apprehension:

Baby, just stay for a night

That creeping anxiety

And ever-hurrying mind, through it all

Your eyes were shining upon me

Minho, “Stay for a Night”

As Minho rides an escalator, we see paper cones pointing threateningly at him as a physical manifestation of his ‘creeping anxiety’.

But paper planes are just as pointy, their sharp noses forging a path through trillions of air molecules (or perhaps even window glass) to stay in the air for longer and get closer to their destination. And once Minho embraces both the beneficial and scary aspects of being open and vulnerable with another person, turning the papers into planes he launches into the air, he becomes airborne, too – bringing him back to the light feeling he had when thinking of his love from his first solo single:

When I think of you, I seemed to be floating

Minho, “I’m Home”

This journey of healing is also evoked by the tractor, suggesting the idea of Minho toiling hard to grow into the person he wants to be. The picture of a blue sky dotted with clouds represents his desired destination, and we see that image again in the bus stop at the end of the MV.

Minho’s journey isn’t smooth — the papers are always swirling around and getting in the way, and a crack in a bus window shows Minho’s tearful regret at his prior violent attempt to move on (as seen in the “Chase” MV) — the paper planes whiz across the screen and show the part of him that is still determined to continue. Even at the end, we see the planes chasing the bus as it leaves the stop, showing how the quest for emotional maturity is a continuous journey.

The use of paper planes in “Stay for a Night” further highlights the return to a more youthful state of being. Things were simpler when we were younger, and that simplicity gives us more space to hold for healing. We see Minho in a playground, his anxiety manifested in the dizziness as he waits for rain that never comes. The playground is also where he makes his paper plane, a successful breakthrough in his journey.

After the heavy beats of “Heartbreak” and “Chase”, the breezy guitar loop that drives “Stay for a Night” is a welcome change of pace. Despite his “Fiery Charisma” moniker, Minho’s softer (and cuter) side is not to be underestimated. His gentle charm not only carries the MV but also the choreography, the smoother movements more suited to Minho’s frame and giving us his best dance execution yet.

Between “Stay for a Night” and his exuberant performances of Chase B-side “Prove It” and Shinee song “Retro” at his recent fan concert in Seoul, there is an argument to be made that Minho’s future solo projects should lean more into his aptitude for lightness.

Though the narrative set up in Minho’s solo MVs point to a happier next chapter, whether this happens remains to be seen. Regardless, “Stay for a Night” makes the most of Minho’s softer side and shows great potential for all the possibilities in Minho’s solo music career.

(YouTube[1][2]. Images via SM Entertainment. Lyrics via Genius [1][2]).