Xia Junsu recently dropped his third solo album, “Flower”, on March 3rd, with the title track MV of the same name dropping with it. After stunning the world with “Tarantallegra” and reinvigorating it with “Incredible”, we were promised a shocking transformation on Junsu’s part for his next release.
“Flower” is like nothing we have seen before in K-pop; it is an incredibly detailed piece of art, with every aspect being well thought out and relevant. Filled with deep emotions, jaw dropping aesthetics and a symbolic message, this release is more than “Incredible”.
The song is an intricately woven piece; it uses elements of hip-hop, musical theatricality, orchestral pieces and opera to create an emotional ride that is not easily forgotten. Junsu, himself, composed and wrote the track, so it is easy to see where these influences have come from with his background in musical theatre. The song starts off with a eerie melody that pierces the silence like a chiming clock. From that point on more layers are added to the song, creating an ebb and flow of emotions; From Tablo’s introduction, to the operatic vocals, to the flourishes of the string instruments, this song has the ability to create an emotional experience — even without lyrics.
It is so epic it feels like it belongs in some sort of Lord of the Rings battle. If I hadn’t already seen the MV, I would be expecting Gandalf to come in to save the day on an eagle. So obviously, someone needs to get a note to Junsu, the MV needs more eagles.
Junsu’s impressive vocals completely slay this song, bringing emotional depth and direction to it. The desperation and deep-rooted scars, which may not be visible, become apparent through his singing. Junsu’s part tells the story of someone who has been kicked down and is trying to get back up, reaching for something that he can hold onto. The prominent ‘Come take my hand’ lyric plays a role in creating that desperation.
Come take my hand
Till the end
So I can live for you again
Please take my hand
Tablo’s rap breathes life into a piece that seemed to be sunk in depression and desperation. He brings to the song his own experiences of rising above his struggles and coming out on the other side. The emotional depth that Tablo creates in his lyrics has always astounded, and “Flower” delivers the listener nothing less than that.
Look at me, I’ve died but I opened my eyes again, I killed it
The darkness swallowed me but now I’m swallowing you
The excitement for the collaboration was fully justified with the result being better than imagined. These two seem to fit perfectly together, with both artists having come out of dark periods in their lives; Tablo was caught up in a modern day witch hunt and Junsu left one of the biggest groups and companies of the K-pop industry to an unknown fate. They’re experiences as musicians and people really shine through in this song.
There should be a rule that one should never watch a Junsu MV with expectations or assumptions, because they are guaranteed to be blown away. I thought we learned our lesson with Tarantellegra. The first time watching this MV it was easy to get lost within the imagery, whether it be the setting, costuming, props or Junsu’s lips; Let’s face it, that is as close as most of use are going to see Junsu’s lips. A lot of detail was put in to create Junsu a world of his own for this MV.
However, as easy as it is to get lost within the imagery, it isn’t as easy to completely understand it first watch. Rather than being based on a clear dramatic plot line, this MV relies on the use of symbolism to get the message across. Watching this video is a bit like solving a mystery, as you have to piece together all the symbolism presented to create the story. For that reason, the video seems very open to the viewer’s own interpretation. You only have to glance at the YouTube comments to see that.
From the beginning of the MV, we are introduced to Junsu as a king living a life of supposed luxury. However, it quickly becomes apparent that there is something very wrong with the world around him; The severed gold head thrown at his feet, the melted-down head being served in a tea cup, and the grotesque fish each symbolize different things but all three declare that something isn’t right with the world. Junsu, as the king, has become desensitized to the wrongness — shown by his unfocused gaze — and doesn’t realize until it is too late. Soon enough, he is poisoned and dying as an ‘innocent’ young girl laughs menacingly on the sideline.
This signals that a change needs to be made. That lifestyle of royalty, the people involved and himself are all killing him. This could be a representation of fame and wealth in general, but most likely it is a representation of his never-ending fight with SM entertainment.
It is easy to draw comparisons between this MV and the ongoing battle JYJ has had with SM entertainment in the years after they left. The little girl could be a representation of SM Entertainment that seems innocent but really has bad intentions. Whether or not you believe that is your opinion, but you must admit it leads to good production material.
From the death of the king, we are introduced to three different types of Junsu; They are represented at the head of three dancing troops as a king, a peasant and a god. These three versions of Junsu, could be projections of what the possible outcomes of his struggle could be and who he will become because of it.
The king represents who he was, the god represents his dreams, the peasant represents his fears; One is stagnant, another loses everything and the other wins everything. The climax of the MV occurs when the video cuts between the three versions of Junsu dancing, as if he is warring between them. However, the last scene, where we see Junsu become a knight, is the pivitol conclusion to that entire MV and his struggle. Junsu is no longer a king, a peasant or a god, those titles mean nothing anymore, he’s a fighter.
This MV seems to not only reflect his struggle with the outside world but also his struggle with himself. Junsu is constantly reinventing himself, from his time as a DBSK member, a member of JYJ, a musical actor, to becoming a soloist. He draws inspiration from his own experiences to become, what I consider, a true artist. As he has grown as a person his music has too, presenting an authentic reflection of himself to the world.
“Flower” was everything, if not more, than what was promised. Sadly, this review would’ve turned out to be too long if all the symbolism in this MV was addressed. However, that fact is a testament to the amount of detail that went into the creation of this release. It’s practically top marks from me, but what would you give it? And what was your take on the story of the MV?
Rating: 4.95/ 5
(Images via C-JeS Entertainment)