We’re barely two weeks into 2012, and we’re already experiencing a wave of comebacks and debuts such as those of MBLAQ, Rainbow Pixie and Chaos, to name a few. And now, joining them is none other than co-ed group Sunny Hill, with their new single album “The Grasshoppers” . They released the MV for the title track “The Grasshopper Song” on Jan, 12.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHSEd_-tqy8&w=560&h=315] The song is based on Aesop’s fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper”, a tale of an ant that works hard all summer saving food for the upcoming winter, and a grasshopper that whiles the months away with singing and dancing and general merriment, and in the end finds itself ill-prepared for the colder months. The moral of the story extols the benefits gained from hard work and the negative consequences of neglecting one’s duties; but Sunny Hill has given their own devillish take on the moral, putting forth the argument that a life without fun and frivolity isn’t a life truly lived.

The MV introduces us to Ant-Jang-hyun, who is a very hardworking ant, as shown by his many awards and plentiful stock of sugar for the winter. When he looks outside, he and the other insects (Mi-sung, Seung-ah and Kota) see Grasshopper-Jubi trudging along desolately in the snow, with no shelter or provisions. She seems resigned to her fate, heading towards starvation, pneumonia, and certain death… or is she? We see a smirk form on Jubi’s partially hidden face, and the song proper kicks in.

This song is completely different from Sunny Hill’s previous lead single “Midnight Circus“, with a much lighter tone overall, compared to the more sinister overtones of “Midnight Circus”, and a clearer message in the lyrics. One can find many other points of contrast between the two videos:

  • Leader Jang-hyun’s innocent, hardworking ant and his creepy ringmaster who destroys his own circus
  • The carefree and fun-loving insects and the miserable, almost-robotic circus performers
  • The lively fiddle (or is it a violin? I’d say fiddle, but I’m no expert) accompanying Seung-ah’s lines, and the spooky accordian that leads into “Midnight Circus”
  • And even the warmer, brighter and the cooler, darker colour schemes seen in each respective MV.

And yet, this song is also familiar, with Sunny Hill carrying on with its sinisterness from “Midnight Circus” by subverting Aesop’s fable to favour the “dark” side, as well as little details in the MV like what seems to be a sugar black-market, and Jang-hyun discovering… grasshopper porn. Huh. The song and MV also hark back to the “sweeter” style of music that Sunny Hill had back when they were a trio — which can be seen in the more upbeat tone of the song and it’s overall positive and life-affirming message– though still keeping true to their new-found musical style.

I adored the styling in this video, from the wooden sets and the golden tones used in the majority of the song (which contrasted nicely with the cold grey/white backgrounds used when showing the ants working) to the outfits worn, including some of the tightest pants I’ve ever seen a man wear — SHINee, you got competition. The use of the colour green as a symbol for the sentiment of living life to the full that Sunny Hill is presenting to us is my personal favourite, especially when I saw Jang-hyun don that dark green hat at the end of the video. I saw it as a sign of him deciding to follow his heart — which he promptly does by skipping away from home (skipping!) and planting one on our good lady Grasshopper. I loved that they didn’t shirk away from creating love lines, and took some advantage of the co-ed group setup — even if it was cutesy. Oh, who am I kidding, it was cute and I loved it! The whole MV was a good mix of cuteness and edginess, something I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in K-pop, along with having an MV that actually relates to the meaning of a song, something at which Sunny Hill excels.

For all that I loved though, there were three things that bugged me (pun ABSOLUTELY intended). One of these was the use of autotune (which actually affects all the songs in “The Grasshoppers”) — it’s more noticeable here than in “Midnight Circus”, and it does get in the way of enjoying the members’ voices. While I don’t believe it was excessive, I would have appreciated it if was used less, or at least more subtly. Another would be Jang-hyun getting kicked out of the sugar black-market — or at least I think it’s a sugar black-market, because, honestly, I have no idea. I also have no idea why he was kicked out: did they think he was a spy? Did he break some sort of black market etiquette? Were they jealous that he was cuter than them? Or perhaps it was a way of showing Jang-hyun as the outsider he is in this environment? I dunno. I’ll just wait for LOEN to release a statement or something.

And the third thing? Jang-hyun. Or rather, LOEN’s current treatment of him. Sure, he was the protagonist of the video, but he gets only four lines, and they were autotuned as well. How much indignity must this man (who can actually sing, I might add) suffer? I’m glad that his lines were at least of relevance to the song,  but the leader needs to be more prominently featured in his group’s title tracks. His work behind the scenes (he was the main composer and producer for their “Midnight Circus” EP) shows his value to Sunny Hill, but K-pop is a visual industry — you need to be seen, especially on live shows, and somebody needs to make this clear to LOEN. Trying to trick people into thinking that Sunny Hill is a girl group may help them get more popular, but I frankly find it lazy and deceitful.

All in all though,”The Grasshopper Song” was an entertaining MV that suited the song perfectly, both in terms of the lyrics and the styling of the video. LOEN Entertainment always puts out the more interesting videos in K-pop, and they didn’t disappoint with Sunny Hill’s latest release.

Did you like “The Grasshopper Song”? What are your thoughts on Jang-hyun’s airtime? And is that Narsha I see? Leave your comments below!