Or so The Buggles tell us…
…and it’s true, at least for pop music! Pop the world over hasn’t just been about singing or playing instruments for decades. Pop is now a performance art and K-Pop fans will be very familiar with this. Singing talent is great, but we also expect dance, stage energy, television show performance and, of course, an inspiring video.
K-Pop videos get their fair amount of criticism, with choreo in a box being a favourite target (but that is a post for another day).
Today I want to focus on those videos that do it right. Obviously, there are hundreds of videos that do it right and that would make for a very long post, so I will be focusing on 10 videos that I have picked out as ones that showcase the amazing range of video talent that K-Pop churns out.
Midnight Circus – SunnyHill
SunnyHill have a wonderful history of entwining theatrical performances with their videos. This perhaps is the most unsubtle of these, but the cutting and splicing of the circus scenes together really cements the theme. Everything from costumes through staging to choreography is on point and as everything ties nicely into the theme, it avoids becoming confusing – something so many pop videos fail at.
Born Hater – Epik High Featuring …Everyone (19+ warning)
The Born Hater video was selected for a number of reasons. I love the style of the video and I loved the way that each character embodies the rap representation of varying sins. I know the ‘shoebox’ screen annoyed so many people, but it was certainly nice to see someone doing something to stand out and it worked well with the cubicle scenes.
Catallena – Orange Caramel
KBS may not have loved it (it was banned for making light of human life) but I certainly did. Orange Caramel videos are usually pretty fun, but this one especially was a work of comic brilliance.
Awoo – Lim Kim
The moment she pushes that vase off of the wardrobe, cat owners everywhere chuckled in recognition. This one makes it into this post for Lim Kim’s spot on imitation of ‘Things cats do that would just be weird if you did them’.
Dirty – Miryo
This video is great. I do like a video with a story, but only if it’s well told and understandable. This video ticks those boxes. It’s a simple story with a heart-wrenching moment, but primarily it’s got a comedic flair that matches nicely with the song. Unlike Orange Caramel’s brand of humour though, this one is much more of a black comedy.
U – John Park
I won’t lie, I love dark and this video has it in spades. This is a rare case where I think that, at least for non-Korean speakers, the video dictates how you feel about the song. The anthemic sound of the song on its own does not automatically conjure up such a dark, disturbing feel, but once partnered with the video some parts become genuinely chilling. K-Pop is so packed with light, peppy fun that such a dark, mature video might not be to everyone’s taste but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!
Hate You – Ladies Code
Another dark one (clearly I have a type!). The video augments Sojung’s haunting, husky vocal so well and is thought provoking. Watch this video again and imagine it’s commentary on the K-Pop industry and I hope you will see what I mean. Unlike a lot of other ‘dark’ videos, it showcases the girls as beautiful as ever… those dolls though…
One Shot – B.A.P
This one is a great example of matching each section of the song to an appropriate part of the story. The 2 endings thing was definitely a marmite ‘you love it or hate it’ moment, but this is definitely another example of a K-Pop group stepping slightly away from safe and trying something interesting cinemagraphically.
Rose – Lee Hi
This is one of the ‘artsier’ ones I have picked today and, to me at least, it is beautiful. I love the colour choices, or lack of colour choices as it is in this case. The juxtaposition of the softness of the rose and it’s sharp thorns has been a poetical staple for some time and I especially love the way that this video pushes that further with the battlefield metaphor. Lee Hi herself is styled beautifully in the video and in a way that makes her part of the art, rather than overlayed onto it.
Beep – Park Ji Yoon
A nice upbeat one for you. I picked this one because I loved the way they spliced in parts from the original ‘Soul Train’ (apologies if the show wasn’t Soul Train, I’m 99% sure it was). Again an example of an artist taking a nice simple video and presenting it in a different way.
Phew, This post turned out to be 1000x harder than I expected and I had to leave off so many videos I love in order to stick to my original brief.
What are your favourite videos? Not your favourite songs, but those videos you think do something beyond the norm or to a higher level than we are used to seeing in K-Pop. Let me know in the comments below!