VIXX, the princes of darkness, have returned with another unsettling, yet addictive, single. “Voodoo Doll” is a song and MV in keeping with the gothic and grotesque concepts we’ve seen from the group before. Whether it be vampires, demons in disguise, or possessed dolls, VIXX has an ability to pull off the macabre better than any other contemporary K-pop group. You can tell on first listen that this is a VIXX song, from the dance to the musicality to the MV filming choices, it all screams VIXX. Despite sticking with a similar style, their singles don’t get boring.
This is something that has led to VIXX’s increased popularity; they stand out as being able to pull off unique concepts while still managing to appeal to the K-pop audience at large. Something about the combination of extremely pretty young men and a hint of darkness appeals to audiences more than they may want to admit. Before we get into talking about this MV, a warning is necessary: if you have a delicate constitution or are particularly bothered by blood, cuts, or other forms of skin mutilation, you may not wish to watch this MV or read farther.
Interpreting from the lyrics, the VIXX members play the part of past lovers that wronged the girl in the MV and the song is from the perspective of the voodoo doll itself. The doll seems to be in love with the girl and vows to hurt anyone that hurt her, sacrificing itself so she can exact her revenge. This explains why the members of VIXX are trying to get out of their cages and obviously hate the female character while the lyrics are conversely from the perspective of someone pledging themselves to her.
Everything in the MV works to further the story developed in the lyrics. As is usually the case with choreography in VIXX MVs, the dance moves are intricately linked to the concept of the MV. The dance has the teamwork we’ve come to expect in VIXX’s choreography, as well as the key moves that emphasize the concept. Two such moves are the doll arm dance, in which the members move like they are being controlled like puppets, and then the stabbing moves using the scepter prop. The use of the skull mic scepter was perfect, no two ways about it. The dramatic effect of having the members get stabbed and then having the scepter ripped out of them was key in expressing the violence of the concept.
The first instance of this, when Ken stabbed “through” himself into N, was a pivotal moment for me as a viewer and it changed my perception of the MV. The added blood effects were good for extra emphasis as well, but the choreography doesn’t need it so it would still look good on stage. Unfortunately, this move, as well as the blood, did bring some problems for the group as broadcasting stations dubbed the dance “too violent” for public airing. This is truly a shame since the dance in question is truly a masterpiece of choreography.
As for the MV as a story, the female character is actually very interesting if you consider some of the other aspects of the set. The MV is rife with themes of body modification and sadism, two things not often seen on this scale in K-pop. It also makes the character have depth as opposed to just being some girl that imprisons pretty boys. She is actually changing their skin, adding ornaments of metal and glass, which speaks to deeper motives than simple revenge.
Her enjoyment of the pain she causes is certainly tied to the fact that she is on a mission for revenge, but her gleeful expressions also lend themselves to some hidden enjoyment of causing pain. Even if the character isn’t developed in the MV it is still nice to see a villain that could, in theory, have a deeper personality. Too often there is no motive behind the actions of characters in K-pop MVs, so seeing the actress commit to her character’s goal of insane revenge was refreshing.
Speaking of acting, the members of VIXX continue to impress with their ability to do everything from cute to energetic to sweet to angry to in pain. Hongbin, in particular, shone in this MV. Although all the members played their parts well and infused their feelings into the dancing and singing, Hongbin seemed to have the most expression in his actual acting scenes.
His naturally bright demeanor and smile are an impressive contrast to the insanity he manages to convey through his eyes in this MV. The hair certainly helps, and there is no doubt that VIXX’s stylists know their way around some dark makeup and crazy contacts, but his expressions in the MV went above and beyond that making him stand out more than the other members. I think all fans are in agreement that the company needs to put him in a drama.
There were so many interesting moments of this MV that it is difficult to highlight them all, but the close-up shots of skin mutilation were certainly unique. Although the skin was clearly fake, the overall effect was so powerful that is wasn’t obvious at first. This is the one part of the MV that truly may have unsettled viewers because no matter how fake the props may be, it is still stomach-turning to see someone cut open and stapled back together.
Obviously VIXX is going for shock value in this MV. The random cut shots of bloody body parts in “Voodoo Doll” were very similar to the grotesque bug shots in “Hyde,” but luckily these shock shots don’t feel too over-done, despite their frequency — at least, they don’t feel over-done yet. It would be nice to see VIXX and their producers use a slightly different formula for the direction of the MV next time, though, since the setup in terms of types of shots and types of sets in “Voodoo Doll” was almost identical to the setup and video direction of “Hyde.”
Another moment that stood out in the MV was when the members escaped and the voodoo doll began walking on its own. It was an excellent visualization of the connection between the members and the doll and was simultaneously creepy and endearing. It is a little unclear as to how they escaped since they would have been torn up and bleeding if they had actually ripped all of those metal hooks out of their skin. However, that is really a small detail that only comes up after many views and analyses, and the dropped detail doesn’t actually make the MV feel disjointed as you’re watching it.
For lack of a better phrase, VIXX has done it again. They’ve managed to pull off the dark concept in a way no one else seems to be able to and they’ve done it to a catchy song no less. “Voodoo Doll” is in keeping with all of the things I like to see from VIXX, and although I would love to see them be a little more innovative with how they present their dark concepts, that is hardly a major complaint. From the song to the dance to the lyrics to the plot, this MV was everything and more than I expected and I can’t wait to see more growth from VIXX. Overall Rating: 4/5
(Jellyfish Entertainment, YouTube)