From the snaking Cyclone in Coney Island and graffiti-adorned DUMBO rooftop with a view of the Manhattan Bridge to the subway-canopied streets of Williamsburg, historical landmarks and everyday areas of New York’s most diverse borough stands as the backdrop to Big Bang’s two initial MVs. As one of the most highly anticipated comebacks for 2012, both their 5th mini-album’s 260,000 copies sold in pre-sale orders and the six-million YouTube views accrued within 3 days of the release of their first MV demonstrates that, although some may be displeased, the majority have embraced their resuscitation as a group.

“Blue” MV

Reviewed by Maddie

With subtle details and a simple storyline, “Blue” is basic yet well-shot; sorrowful yet not over-sentimental. Scenes shift between real-time and memory, differentiated by those filmed in blue or cool colored tones and those with an almost sepia tone perfectly portraying the song’s lyrics, “Even if you have left, I’m still here.” Each clothes ensemble corresponds to a part in the storyline and each location (the rooftop, apartment, dock and amusement park) is introduced within the first 16 seconds of the video, which begins and closes with the shot of them walking down an industrial area of Brooklyn.

Throughout the video, members are seen stationary, walking or running with the past lover re-enacting their movements exactly or seemingly through memory. There is no set dance choreography, seen typically in K-pop, and no close-up shots that aren’t necessary to the development of the storyline. Although the running scenes teeter on the verge of tiresome, the allegory reaches its climax and full understanding when it becomes difficult to differentiate between each band member and the actress. The only detail indicating the actress being her black Converse Hi-tops, which she is seen wearing during her initial appearance. The most visual aspects characteristic of Big Bang in “Blue” is their style of fashion and each member’s distinctive presence during their assigned verse or scene. Along with the effortless simplicity of the MV, so is their individual and overall execution, which is free of an overt or gimmicky concept.  

 

What is most satisfying about this MV is how the storyline is filmed through exceptional use of minimalism deviating from the typical visually elaborateness seen in most K-pop videos. Subtle details, like a grey sky or raindrops on a car’s windshield giving the impression of early Spring weather or the falling snow depicted in the sepia-colored scenes representing Winter, closely follows the opening verse:

“The winter had passed/ And the spring has come /We have withered /And our hearts are bruised from longing”

Also, the solitary scene in which Taeyang stands face-to-face with the haunting memory of the past-lover is a juxtaposed with the repetition of the opening verse. Its meaning is strengthened considering it follows G-Dragon’s verse, which illustrates the first indications of resignation to the fact that there can be no real consolation. Another detail, is the scene in which T.O.P approaches a couch where the young girl is seen sitting. He sits and places his hand where she would be if she were truly present. All of these details, although subtle, do have a considerable amount of meaning behind them and help elevate the song’s lyrics.

Rating: 4/5

“Bad Boy” MV

Reviewed by Natalie

I won’t lie, I was crazy-excited for Big Bang’s comeback. I was ecstatic to hear that they were going to make MVs for every song. And I love quite a few songs on their album, “Bad Boy” being one of them. Catchy without being overly earworm-y, possessing a great flow, and having G-Dragon and T.O.P singing made this the standout on the album. T.O.P isn’t the strongest singer but I found his deep, throaty voice to fit his part of the song perfectly, and of course Taeyang and Daesung sounded great.

However, I’m not as in love with the music video of the song. It isn’t a bad music video at all — the only real problem I have with it is its lack of creativity. The music video is very, very basic: the boys walk down the streets, doing a few dance movements, while gesturing at the camera and chasing after some very stiff extras. The would-be girlfriends were pretty but not very good actresses. Their interactions with the boys felt very fake and it was a little funny, in an awkward sort of way, to see Taeyang and G-Dragon try to get their attention. Another vaguely awkward thing to watch was GD’s hair, which, aside from looking horrible, kept pistol-whipping GD across the face. That has to get annoying. GD, you need a new haircut. Go back to being blond.

Choreography was another issue. It wasn’t terrible, but like the MV, it was very basic, only comprising of hopping, gesturing, and arm-waving for the most part. T.O.P didn’t look into it at all but at least he was able to keep up. Taeyang could have definitely done some more complex moves by himself, not just hop around in a circle.

Criticisms aside, there were good things about the music video as well. I had originally disdained upon their outfits, and for the most part I still hold to that, although I concede that at least they look better in the MV. Really, Seungri’s and Daesung’s and even T.O.P’s don’t look so bad. I found Seungri looking very cute, Spock haircut and all. G-Dragon still looks like a turtle with that jacket, though, and Taeyang looks like he just rolled out of bed. I found the cinematography and setting beautiful. New York City is always gorgeous but it especially fits the “bad boy” image of this song. Overall, it wasn’t a bad MV, in spite of its lack of creativity. I liked it and I did download it onto my iPhone.

Rating: 3/5

Working with Brooklyn based film production team, Agon Creative, for both “Blue” and “Bad Boy”, each MV represents two sides of the same coin that is YG Entertainment’s flagship group. One that has grown within the past year by overcoming difficult experiences that, in other instances, would have lead to disband yet only made them more keen to return.

“Fantastic Baby” MV

Reviewed by Gaya

What do Apache Indian, A. R. Rahman and Big Bang have in common? Why, all three like to Boom Shakalaka, of course (or some variation thereof). I’ve been looking forward to this MV ever since I saw the Naver teaser for the song, and I have to say that I enjoyed aspects of it.

The MV starts with a quick shot of an owl perched on a lamp post surrounded by debris. In Asia, owls are usually seen as ill omens and markers of death. The owl may have been used to foreshadow the upcoming battle in the MV. As for the actual song, it’s perfect headbanging, throw-your-hands-in-the-air party music; in fact, attempts by me to seriously analyse this MV were temporarily stymied by the — you guessed it — Boom Shakalakas. The rest of the lyrics contain the usual bragging, and there’s really only one truly unfortunate line: “Mama I wanna be your lover.”

The main storyline of the MV involves the battle between black-clad anti-music troops and white-masked music lovers. The former most likely represent the censor-happy Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, and the latter the average music fan; the two sides battle it out, with the white side prevailing, and the MV culminates in a victory celebration dance party with the Big Bang members, where the white masks are removed to reveal normal people underneath. The message of everyday people working together to overcome oppression is nice, but it gets lost in all the other crazy things going on in this MV, and in the end the message is pretty much rendered impotent. I mean, what is going to capture my attention more: the stifling of creativity by the government, or a shackled Daesung? I initially thought he had been captured by MOGEF, but then I realised that there was no way they would allow him to be that hot while under their custody. In fact the thing to elicit the strongest reaction from me was Taeyang meditating… while wearing shoes. That’s just rude, Sol. And I think the less said about poor Seungri, the better. It hurts too much.

That said, though, there were some things I liked, most of them TOP-related. I love how TOP’s eyes are done to make them appear wider, as well as his solo scenes, where he seemed to have become a Hogwarts painting. I also love his ventriloquism skills, which have really improved over the last few MVs — and, of course, the boom shakalaka, boom shakalaka. And I may be the only one, but I loved G-Dragon’s Rapunzel hair. It was getting longer and longer anyway, and I feel that they just brought the hairstyle to its natural conclusion. So now, maybe we can change it?

Rating:  3/5

(Big Bang UpdatesK-pop Lyrics, Soompi, Big Bang YouTube Channel, Korea Boo, YG United, Owlpages)