Kim Tae-yeon (born March 9, 1989), most often credited as Taeyeon, is a South Korean singer and actress. She is a member of South Korean girl group Girls' Generation, its subgroup TTS, and SM the Ballad; she has also recorded singles for various television dramas and movies.
Taeyeon was born on March 9, 1989 in Jeonju, South Korea. Her family consists of her parents, an older brother and a younger sister.
At the age of 13, Taeyeon discovered that she was "only talented at singing". During her years in middle school, she was enrolled at the SM Academy and commuted from Jeonju to Seoul on every Sunday to receive her vocal training. In 2004, her former vocal instructor Jung Sun Won, also known as The One, "wanted to acknowledge Tae-yeon's potential" and gave her a chance to be in his song "You Bring Me Joy". Later on, she won the first place at the SM Youth Best Competition and officially received a contract from SM Entertainment. Tae-yeon continued her training under SM Entertainment and debuted as a part of Girls' Generation in 2007. In 2008, Tae-yeon graduated from Jeonju Art High School and was awarded with the school's Lifetime Achievement Award. During her pre-debut days, Tae-yeon was inspired to become an entertainer by BoA. The then-teenager "wanted to be like her and have activities in Japan and around the world", which later came true when Girls' Generation debuted in Japan in 2010.
2007–2011: Girls' Generation and solo activities
Taeyeon debuted as a member of the South Korean girl group Girls' Generation in July 2007. Due to the pressure of being the leader of the group, she experienced sleepwalking for a period of time. Aside from Girls' Generation's activities, Tae-yeon has also made several solo appearances. In 2008, Tae-yeon released two solo songs, "If" for the KBS2's drama Hong Gil Dong and "Can You Hear Me" for the MBC's Beethoven Virus. The song "If" became popular on various online music charts, with Hankyung describing Tae-yeon as having "an exceptional voice and sad tone". While "Can You Hear Me" received the YEPP Popularity Award at the 2008 Golden Disk Awards. In a 2014 interview, Tae-yeon described the latter song as one her most difficult to sing, explaining that the introduction had to be delivered as if someone is talking, rather than singing. On the same year, Taeyeon also had a duet titled "7989" with fellow SM artist, Kangta. It was featured on both Girls' Generation's self-titled album Girls' Generation, and Kangta's Eternity. In April 2008, Tae-yeon became a DJ on MBC Radio's program Kangin Taeyeon's Chin Chin Radio alongside fellow SM artist Super Junior's Kangin. After Kangin left the program in April 2009, it was renamed to Taeyeon's Chin Chin Radio, as Tae-yeon became an independent host and continued on until April 2010. She gained the nickname "DJ Taengoo" while hosting this program.
Kim Tae-yeon at the Asia Song Festival on September 2009.
In January 2009, Taeyeon appeared on the MBC's reality-variety show We Got Married and was featured with comedian Jeong Hyeong-don. They played a couple, portraying what life would be like if they were married. When this news was announced, it caused an uproar among South Korean netizens due to the 11-year age difference between the two. She then participated in the song "S.E.O.U.L." (along with Super Junior and Girls' Generation) as an effort to promote tourism for the city of Seoul in South Korea. In September 2009, Tae-yeon released the song "It's Love", a duet with Sunny for the MBC's drama Heading to the Ground.
From February to August 2010, Tae-yeon became a co-host for the KBS2's idol talk show Win Win alongside 2PM's Wooyoung, Choi Hwa-jung, Kim Shin-young, and Kim Seung-woo. On May 7, 2010, she had her musical debut as the main female role in Midnight Sun, which is based on the Japanese novel "Taiyō no uta" by Aya Denkawa. The musical was about Kaoru Amane, a 17-year-old girl, who suffers from Xeroderma pigmentosum, which forbids her from going out during daytime. She keeps her hopes up by writing songs and singing every night at a train station; Tae-yeon received good press for her performance. She also learned to play guitar for her performance. When reflecting on her experience, Tae-yeon shared that she found musicals to be difficult, citing that her weak concentration made it hard for her to act and sing at the same time. Music-wise, Tae-yeon released a duet song, "Like A Star", with her mentor The One, as well as a solo song, "I Love You", for the SBS's drama Athena: Goddess of War. The former song reached number one on Gaon's digital chart and the latter peaked at number two. In 2011, Tae-yeon had a duet, "Different", with Kim Bum-soo; the song reached number two on this chart as well. The two singers met again at a concert two years later for another collaboration "Man and Woman".
Tae-yeon and her band mate Seohyun were cast as voice actors for the Korean-dubbed versions of the computer-animated films Despicable Me (2010) and its sequel Despicable Me 2 (2013). They dubbed the voices for the characters Margo and her younger sister, Edith, respectively. On March 28, 2012, after releasing the single "Missing You Like Crazy" for the MBC's melodrama The King 2 Hearts, the song reached number two on both Gaon's digital chart and Billboard's K-pop Hot 100. The producer of the song, Park Hae-woon, described "Tae-yeon is an amazing singer. She fully understood the song in its entirety and expressed each detail very precisely...even though this song requires the lowest note that a female singer can produce, Taeyeon executed them perfectly." The singer had previously declined the offer for the song due to her busy schedules with Girls' Generation. However, she made a promise to musical director Lee Pil-ho that they would collaborate again after working with him on the Beethoven Virus OST. He stated that he had not considered anyone else other than Tae-yeon to sing this song. It was eventually picked as the most popular soundtrack of the year at the 2012 Seoul Drama Awards. The same year, another song, "Closer", for the SBS's drama To the Beautiful You managed to reach number seven on both charts. In May 2012, Tae-yeon, along with fellow Girls' Generation members Tiffany and Seohyun, formed a subgroup called Girls' Generation-TTS (or TTS), releasing their first mini-album titled Twinkle. The subgroup has a different musical direction and style concept from Girls' Generation, placing their focus on each member's vocal ability while the latter group emphasizes the songs and uniform group performances. The three singers also became the hosts for the MBC's music show Music Core from February 2012 to April 2013.
In January 2013, Tae-yeon returned to MBC as a one-day guest DJ for Shindong's program, Shimshimtapa, alongside with her bandmate Tiffany. The two singers also had a duet "Lost in Love", which was featured in Girls' Generation's fourth Korean album, I Got a Boy. On March 13, 2013, Tae-yeon released the song "And One" for the SBS's drama That Winter, the Wind Blows. It debuted at the top of the Billboard's K-pop Hot 100 and reached number two on Gaon's digital chart. The song was written and composed by Kangta, expressing the emotions abounding star-crossed love. On July 9, 2013, Tae-yeon lent her voice in the song "Bye" for the movie Mr. Go. The song, this time, was not as successful on the charts.
In February 2014, Taeyeon joined the ballad group SM the Ballad, initially formed by SM Entertainment in 2010. On the group's 2nd album, she had a duet with Jonghyun for the title track "Breath" as well as a solo song, "Set Me Free". "Breath" was also the theme song of the Mnet's mini-drama Mimi. The song debuted within top 10 of the Gaon's digital chart and K-pop Hot 100. In March 2014, Tae-yeon recorded the song "Colorful" for the JTBC's campaign "The World Is More Beautiful Because We're Different". On May 30, 2014, she released "Love, That One Word" for the SBS's drama You're All Surrounded, having the song reaching top ten on the charts as well. In the later half of the year, Taeyeon concentrated her activities with subgroup TTS. They released their sophomore EP, Holler, in September 2014; the album debuted at number 1 on both Billboard World Albums and Gaon's weekly chart. Tae-yeon took the responsibility for the album's song selection. During the promotion period, the three singers were also featured in the reality show, The TaeTiSeo. The show took on a more close-up and personal side of the three singers approach, revealing how they live their normal everyday lives. Taeyeon stated "If it weren't for the passionate [Girls' Generation] members, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to sing."
In February 2015, she was featured in "Shake that Brass", the title track of Amber's solo debut. Amber revealed that she personally asked Taeyeon if she could feature in the song. In September 2015, she released a remake of the song "Scars Deeper Than Love" as a duet with Yim Jae-beom. In October 2015, Taeyeon will debut as a solo artist with the release of her first solo album I.