Now that 2014 is coming to a close, it’s that magical time of the year: Time to choose our favorite MVs! The gamut ran wild this year with every concept imaginable coming to the forefront. Whether it involved romantic robots or cloned idols, this year showed no shortage of creativity.
The first half of the year showed a great deal of promise in terms of quality, as our mid-year panelists chose their favorites. In the yearly round-up, a few Seoulbeats writers wracked their brains for MVs that stood out above the rest. Will there be a repeat of favorites, or will others claim a spot among the Best MVs of 2014?
|1||AKMU – Melted||AKMU – Melted||B1A4 – Solo Day|
|2||BTS – War of Hormone||Lee Michelle – Without You||Vixx – Error|
|3||Block B – HER||Orange Caramel – My Copycat||AKMU – Melted|
|4||Spica – You Don’t Love Me||Epik High – Born Hater||g.o.d. – Saturday Night|
|5||Topp Dogg – Top Dog||Beast – No More||Beenzino – How Do I Look|
Cjontai: To be quite honest, I had a tough time choosing just five because there were some pretty entertaining MVs this year. It’s difficult to simply judge them on limited criteria because they each had their strengths. That said, I’m not too surprised to see Akdong Musician‘s “Melted” on everyone’s list. All around it was a strong, solid video. The story line matched the theme of the song, and it moved me emotionally. That’s not to say Lee Michelle‘s “Without You” wasn’t also a great contender on that level, but “Melted” felt universal. Most of all, I loved that it didn’t feel preachy. I cared for the characters without feeling manipulated by a well-composed song, and — trust me — some MVs I didn’t choose had great songs but BAAAAD MVs.
In fact, I love it when a MV can change my mind about a song or a group, which is why BTS and Topp Dogg made my list. I was not a fan of “War of Hormone” upon first listen, but the MV gave me a new appreciation for it. I also loved the director’s use of the one-take technique to make use of the entire space. The monochromatic scheme with pops of red really fit the song’s wild, almost rock-edge feeling; it wasn’t just there for the sake of aesthetics. I love when a director does things deliberately to incorporate the feeling of the song into the video.
“Top Dog” was the MV that I wish Topp Dogg used for their debut. First of all, anytime you mix classical, pop and hip hop, I’m here for it. Secondly, this really set them apart from the other idol hip hop groups, in that you wouldn’t normally see them dressed as dueling wizard composers. Who does that? Nobody! This MV put a rookie group on the map for me, and if that doesn’t deserve some praise, I don’t know what does.
Laverne: I confess, I didn’t watch “Melted” until a few days ago despite it being a favorite during our mid-year reviews. I was surprised at how it emotionally connected with the viewer and kept me captivated. As someone who can’t sit and watch a MV without fast-forwarding it, “Melted” really stood out to me because I was glued to my screen the whole time.
On the other hand, despite liking the song, I got bored during “War of Hormone.” I loved the splash of red and the filming technique, but it just didn’t reel me in. Orange Caramel‘s “My Copycat” did just that, though. It was unique in the way it involved the viewer while still retaining the fun eccentricities of Orange Caramel’s music videos. It is one of the MVs that doesn’t get old — every time you watch it, you find something you didn’t catch the first time — and is bright and lively.
Bright and lively music videos always draw me in, which is why I enjoyed Block B‘s “Her” and B1A4‘s “Solo Day,” although neither made the cut for me. What made you include “Solo Day” in your top 5 pick, Taylore?
Taylore: This year has seen an abundance of story-oriented MVs, and AKMU dominates in this category with all three of their releases. What struck me about “Solo Day” in particular, though, was its departure from more common themes in K-pop videos. It’s a post-breakup song, but instead of watching B1A4 mope around and mourn their lost love, we get to see them run from a UFO. The story is wacky and fun, and the video itself boasts high production values that make it pleasing to watch. After the blows K-pop fans have been dealt this year, it’s nice to have original and cheerful MVs like “Solo Day” as a mood boost.
“Error,” though not really a cheerful video, is another impressive example of the high-quality, story-based MVs that I tend to love. It’s VIXX‘s most comprehensible story to date, and the android theme is also quite unique and well presented. Beast‘s “No More” is similar in that it’s a somewhat more somber song with a nice story to accompany it, but I prefer “Error” simply because almost everything in the video, including the dance, ties back to the overarching theme. I got a little bored watching the Beast members sing in their chairs, while I didn’t experience that with VIXX.
I’d like to give an honorable mention to Epik High‘s “Born Hater,” which got beat out in the end by “How Do I Look.” Both MVs seem relatively simple, but I appreciate how their many scenes have hidden depth for viewers who pay close attention. Deciphering the stories of “How Do I Look” was one of my favorite ways to pass to the time this year.
Cjontai: I’m glad you mentioned that about “Solo Day” because that’s part of the reason I chose Spica‘s “You Don’t Love Me.” I loved that it was a love-gone-wrong song that wasn’t accompanied by a moody, sullen MV. I enjoy the breakup songs that don’t depress me more than one should be for the content. Both groups took a jovial jab at the situation and turned it into something catchy and lighthearted. It’s refreshing and positive. It’s not that I despise the mopey breakup MVs, but sometimes you just want that one that says, “Who cares if it didn’t work out? Let’s party!”
I also appreciated how both MVs focused on the individual personalities of the members. Each person got a fair amount of focus, which means fans weren’t disappointed their biases weren’t on screen as much as others.
Even though I liked the concept of “Born Hater,” what kept it off my list was all the extra featuring artists. I get it: they’re YG family, but this was Epik High’s big comeback after several years. I wanted the focus to be more about the original members, and it felt like that was taken away with the presence of Bobby, Mino and B.I.
Laverne: The reason I chose “No More” was because of the seamless integration of social media into the MV. It wasn’t the most interesting video to watch, as you found, Taylore, but I felt that it did something different while staying true to lyrics of the song.
For me, all the featuring artists weren’t a problem with the MV for “Born Hater.” The inclusion of many artists allowed the video to explore the seven deadly sins while maintaining a humorous tone. The MV influenced my love the of the song — had I heard the song by itself first, I wouldn’t have liked it as much. But I can definitely see why that was a turn off to some.
I hadn’t watched g.o.d.‘s “Saturday Night” until I saw it on Taylore’s list, and I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t expect it to be so funny, and I enjoyed the members making fun of themselves.
Cjontai: Come to think of it — that seems to be a strong common link between all of these videos. Whether they are funny or serious, each one brings out the unique colors of the artists. That is probably another contributing factor to what made them stand out.
Like Laverne, I also hadn’t watched “Saturday Night” until I saw it on Taylore’s list, but, yes, they are hilarious. It made me love the group even more, which is essential when you’re competing with an entire generation of idols younger than you. It really says a lot about their staying power.
Taylore: One thing that all our lists seem a little bit lacking in is girl groups, especially my own list (which wasn’t intentional). Spica and Orange Caramel are strong representatives for their fellow ladies, though. Sexy videos have made a lot of noise this year, and I like how Orange Caramel made light of that trend with their lingerie T-shirts in “My Copycat.” I think Spica also did a nice job of balancing the sexy aspects of their fashion concept with their more lighthearted acting they showed in “You Don’t Love Me.” Silly or quirky concepts are usually saved for the guys so it was nice to see Spica and Orange Caramel take it for themselves.
Laverne: I didn’t even realize how few ladies were on our lists, and it’s probably because they often get stuck being cute or sexy, and there’s not much to do with those concepts that hasn’t already been done. The number of groups doing sexy concepts in the beginning half of the year just kept growing!
Spica’s “You Don’t Love Me” was so well-done and humorous that I’m disappointed they haven’t followed it up with a better MV. But thankfully, rookie girl group Mamamoo has been bringing their A game. I was impressed by their vocals pre-debut, and their debut MV “Mr. Ambiguous” was playful and showed off their fun side. I loved how the splash of color broke up the black and white to add to the playfulness of the video.
But aside from Spica, Orange Caramel, and 2NE1‘s “Come Back Home,” I can’t think of any girl groups who pushed boundaries or thought outside the box with their MVs. Any suggestions, Cjontai?
Cjontai: I had a difficult time picking girl artists, too, because they get the short straw in promotions all the time. Most of the MVs fell into the sexy or cute category, which becomes monotonous after a while. The closest honorable mention I’d give would be for “Red Light” by f(x). SM finally spent a decent amount of money on them, gave them all great makeovers, and allowed them to do some intermediate level of choreography. With a title like “Red Light,” it would’ve been easy to go the sex kitten route, but thankfully the director used a military-meets-gothic-lolita mash-up for the concept. It was energetic and high powered, representing the group at their best so far.
Laverne: I agree. When it comes to choosing the best MVs of the year, it’s difficult because it is so subjective. There are many technically good music videos, but what elevates one into being the best? For every person, the factor that makes a MV “the best” is different, as evidenced by our highly differing lists. But one common thing that we’ve all claimed our picks had was that each video uniquely represented the artists and brought out their colors. And, really, that’s what the best MVs do: they artistically showcase the artist while remaining fresh and interesting. Of course, what is interesting is different to everyone, but it’s impressive that the K-pop industry has produced so many great MVs that nominee lists for best MV are as dynamic as the industry itself.
As you can see, our panelists had a difficult time choosing, but it appeared each choice stood out for being true to the artists themselves. The videos that really stood out the most were the ones that didn’t rely on fancy graphics or an abundance of gratuitous fan service. They were the ones that displayed the unique character and personality of each artist. Even though, there was a wide spectrum of tastes among our panel, we all agreed that these MVs deserved recognition for being authentic towards the artists and their fans.
Did you agree with any of our writers’ choices? What were some of your favorite MVs of 2014?
(Images via YG Entertainment, Pledis Entertainment, Stardom Entertainment, B2M Entertainment)