20140314_seoulbeats_orangecaramel1So far, our midyear review panelists have talked about the best comebacks, waxed poetic about indie releases galore, talked shop about the best dramas, and praised the rookie debuts that stood out during the first half of 2014. But what about the absolutely essential K-pop MVs?

In a genre that relies so heavily on visuals, it would be a travesty to leave this category out. Here are some of our favorite MVs since the beginning of the year which represent only a tiny dent in the overwhelming number released since January.

Rank Andy Lindsay Lisa Alolika
1 AKMU – Melted JunggiGo & Soyou – Some Michelle Lee – Without You Michelle Lee – Without You
2 Michelle Lee – Without You Orange Caramel – Catallena Spica – You Don’t Love Me AKMU – Melted
3 Block B – Jackpot AKMU – 200% 2NE1 – Come Back Home Philtre – Last Scene
4 2NE1 – Come Back Home K.Will – Day One B.A.P – Angel Eddy Kim – The Manual
5 Nell – Four Times Around the Sun Spica – You Don’t Love Me AKMU – 200% 2NE1 – Come Back Home


Andy: I based my selections mostly on the emotions these MVs create and the stories they tell. Block B is the outlier. Sometimes, I just like a fun, insane video that doesn’t seem too forced.

Lisa: I like MVs if they make me think about the storyline and the song after I’ve watched, or if I’m so intrigued that I want to re-watch or read reviews to try to figure out what it means. I look for visually interesting shots/setups that express a coherent message or plot. I also like to see new things in MVs, which is why the ultra-creepy “Hair Short” by rookie group Wings is one of my runners-up.

20140411_seoulbeats_akmu_interviewAlolika: I like it when MVs add to the narrative of the song, giving it a stronger context, and flesh out deeper, dismissed layers of meanings. If the song and the music video come together as intrinsic parts of a grander story, then only do I consider their job well done. Apart from obsessively searching for a perfect balance between audio and video, I am also influenced by the impact the video has.

Yes, it may have greater lyrical content. It may have a fantastic composition. It may also have brilliant visuals. But does the blend of all these components leave me stunned? MVs don’t necessarily need to have a “story” or an attempt at a “story”; they could be anything but as long as they imprint themselves on my mind, I will consider them having created brilliant stories. Jiyeon‘s “Never Ever,” Orange Caramel‘s “Catallena” and Sunmi‘s “Full Moon” are MVs which don’t really have an interesting or difficult narrative but are impacting nonetheless.

Lindsay: We all have diverse taste in MVs, but AKMU is the clear favorite (once again). It would seem we all enjoyed their MVs but have different taste in what we consider best. I did think that “Melted” was an excellent MV, but I didn’t want to watch it a second time — for various reasons. I’ll willingly admit that I prefer K-pop MVs that actually have the artists in them. “200%” was quirky, cute, and showed the personality of the duo, which was what I wanted to see from them.

I also based my choices a lot on how compatible the MV was with the song. Wheesung‘s “Night and Day” is the complete package: strong song, strong choreography scenes, and strong dramatic scenes, but it also wasn’t very original, so it only warrants a mention from me.

20140212_seoulbeats_sistar_soyu_junggigo_dasom_someAlthough I do enjoy MVs that are heavily story-driven or particularly artsy on occasion, I find that the MVs best favored by the majority of K-pop fans (and myself) are the ones that embody the flamboyant, humorous, aesthetic driven K-pop genre. That’s one of the reasons I just had to add B.A.P‘s “Where Are You?” to the honorable mentions!

Alolika: I had a tough time choosing the video I liked the best since I cried in both “Melted” and “Without You” but as Andy mentioned, the sheer emotion of the latter, the force with which the video hits you, and the attention to detail, stressing more on the violence of micro-aggressions was just too overwhelming. “Melted” and its exploration of the hierarchy of power accompanied by the gorgeous vocals and fascinating camera work was delightfully unnerving. “The Manual” and “Last Scene,” with their minimalist approach, were just absolute visual delights!

Andy: The variety is really nice, even though there are repeats. If anything, the list shows the power of some of this year’s rookies with AKMU, Michelle Lee, and Eddy Kim. I admit, I almost chose Eddy Kim and Philtre, but after watching Michelle Lee’s video, I had to choose her because of the sheer emotion. I chose Nell due to the artistic value. Philtre was similarly artistic, but Nell’s MV implanted itself in my brain more.

20140527_seoulbeats_2ne1My pick in Block B definitely fits “the ones that embody the flamboyant, humorous, aesthetic driven K-pop genre.” The MV was fun, creative, and all around insanity. The different colors and settings made it eye-catching. Pair that with a vibrant song, and “Jackpot” was the embodiment of Block B for me. It stood out among the other typical pop MVs as well.

Lindsay: Lisa and I both chose SPICA‘s “You Don’t Love Me” which probably indicates that we have a similar sense of humor and a common appreciation of strong, sassy ladies. Humor is a theme in all of my choices, actually. I suppose I’m in the spring and summer mood. Although I enjoyed the more serious MVs of the year, I found myself going back to the cheerful and colorful ones more often. I admit, this list reflects my personal preferences more than my “Best Debuts” list did, because in that one, I tried to be more practical in my choices.

I truly found that the MV for JunggiGo’s MV for “Some” was a hidden treasure. I didn’t see it until long after its release, but it made an immediate impression on me. The acting is perfect, the tone is perfect, and the stuffed bear and text bubbles add a hint of whimsy. And I admit, I’ a sucker for Baro.

Andy: I agree with Lindsay about B.A.P’s “Where Are You?” Seriously, how cute and dorky was that MV? Cute and dorky brings me a bit of innocent pleasure. I would also definitely state that “You Don’t Love Me” is an honorable mention for me. Though, poor cupcake; it deserved to be eaten.

20140323_seoulbeats_lee_michelle_without_you5Alolika: Surprisingly, SPICA’s “You Don’t Love Me” is the only MV which I never felt compelled to watch despite the song being one of my favourites. Unlike Lindsay, I am not one for chirpy and humourous MVs; the mellower the song and grimmer the MV, the more I tend to remember it. Philtre’s “Last Scene” with its hypnotic visuals and spoken rap and Eddy Kim’s “The Manual” with its minimalist approach, good-looking singer, crystal clear vocals, and good-looking singer kind of made me realize the importance of MV in the non-idol K-pop scene.

I still struggle accepting the “rookie” status of AKMU considering their previous releases but I am pleasantly surprised by the autonomy they enjoy under YG despite being rookies. Hopefully, they’ll continue to enjoy that autonomy because it had been working wonders for them so far.

Lisa: I agree with Lindsay–I have rewatched SPICA’s MV just for the sass! The retro concept totally contrasts with their ironic actions: they dump laundry over their heads, wear butt pads, eat junk food, break a “banana” in half and chew up toy men. I’m excited for their next comeback.

All of my top 5 can also be seen on others’ lists, except for B.A.P.’s “1004 (Angel),” which surprises me. This was the group’s first MV to catch my attention. Each of the six members had a striking set–the claustrophobic mirrors, the nostalgic carousel, and the insurmountable wall–and of course the colossal, ghostly bones sticking out of the ground, one of the most extraordinary images I’ve seen in an MV. I liked piecing together the members’ separate storylines, reading the commentary, and re-watching; on top of that, I enjoyed the fusion of the song with the visuals. For me, it is one of the most well thought-out, intricate MVs I’ve seen. “You Don’t Love Me” and “1004 (Angel)” also show it is possible to showcase a group’s choreography without sacrificing story or visual variety.

block bI honestly believe “Come Back Home” had some execution problems–mainly in the lip syncing and editing departments. But, the futuristic styling and sets allowed the virtual reality concept to be thought-provoking enough that I felt it warranted inclusion.

Alolika: 2NE1’s “Come Back Home” reminded me so much of Doctor Who! Call it dramatic, but watching the guy feel claustrophobic in the “real” world felt like a glimpse to what the Doctor would be reduced to if the Tardis ever disappeared. Sandara was, of course, the very who-esque companion who knew the value of the “real” world and “real” world institutions. I swear I am not on a Doctor Who high.


And you thought agreeing on what makes a song “good” was hard! The world of K-pop MVs is so stylistic and diverse that it appeals to every type of person. There were some MVs we agreed on, but overall it would appear that our tastes are very different. Thank goodness there are MVs designed to appeal to all of our predispositions. What MV did you love this year? What did we miss that you would have included?

(Images via B2M Entertainment, Pledis Entertainment, YG Entertainment, DIMA Entertainment, Seven Seasons, Starship Entertainment)