20150307_seoulbeats_junsu2After kicking things off with our Dance panel, we continue our Mid-year Review for 2015 with Music Videos!

MVs can be considered the cornerstone of any debut or comeback, and they come in all kinds of styles; from handsome faces to awesome dances to moving narratives. Here, Andy, Gaya, Chelsea and Morgan share their favourite MVs from the first half of 2015. Don’t forget to share your favourites, too, in the comments below!

Andy Gaya Chelsea Morgan
1 December
Lim Kim
“Ah Yeah”
Lim Kim
2 Junsu
“Paradise Lost”
3 Nu Chen
“Unending Tears”
“Paradise Lost”
“Goodbye PMS”
“Bang Diggy Bang Bang”
“Ah Yeah”
Sunny Hill
“Child in Time”
“Paradise Lost”
5 Ga-in
“Paradise Lost”
Red Velvet
“Ice Cream Cake”
“Ah Yeah”

Andy: This was actually difficult for me. I had to whittle down a list of 10 MVs that left an impression on me. I’m still waffling on whether I want to change out one of my top 5 with Planet Shiver‘s “Rainbow” featuring Crush — the MV for the song has a really nice message and was artistically done well.

As to my selections, “Reason” is number one simply for the strong emotions. The MV had a great story about love and loss. I admit, tears came while watching, and because of that, it was an easy pick for #1. “Flower” and “Paradise Lost” had symbolic and visual power.

Nu Chen and MBFTY are the odd choices. Neither had a definitive plot or story involved. However, the dancing in “Unending Tears” was intriguing and impactful. The dancer, Kim Seol-jin, moved his body in ways that the lyrics quite perfectly — you could feel the pain. On the other hand, “Bang Diggy Bang Bang” is just vibrant fun. There are little Easter eggs hidden in the MV, and the overall color and party atmosphere makes it enjoyable.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jHVFcXFk_I]

Chelsea: While I haven’t been over the moon with many releases this year, it was still difficult to narrow down my top 5 favorite MVs. There have been some exceptional concepts so far this year, and even more MVs that demanded several watches before I could grasp everything they were going for.

EXID and Ga-in top my list because I love that they both address different aspects of femininity and sexuality. EXID takes my number one spot because of the way they used censorship to critique the censorship that had already been imposed on them. The “Ah Yeah” MV tackled so many aspects of female sexuality in K-pop, but in the most cheeky and enjoyable way.

Gaya:  I’m joining in on the “Ah Yeah” love-fest, because it addresses censorship in a light and zippy manner. I also want to commend the technical aspects; I don’t think I can ever get sick of the seamless transition from the outer-girl Hani to inner-girl LE.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=egqDPipqIAg]

Andy: While I like “Ah-yeah” as a song, I couldn’t remember the MV to save my life. That’s the threshold for considering any MV for my list.

Morgan: “Ah Yeah” and “Paradise Lost” stood out for their depictions of female sexuality and society’s attitude to it. Ga-in’s depiction of female sexuality always seems to go a step further than expected and it’s one of the reasons that all her solo releases are so attractive; she looks further at female sexuality than a women as a sexual object.

Conversations on the topic of sex and sexualtiy are often over simplified and hidden away despite images pertaining to sex being constantly pushed into our faces. Sex, sexuality and women are complicated and Ga-in always seems to do them justice. She did this once again in “Paradise Lost” through it’s symbolism and message.

Andy:  Ga-in‘s MV delivered a twisted spin on a well-known story, and Ga-in was the stunning embodiment of Eve.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i32ANEa5mk]

Gaya: I agree with you Andy, on the unique take on the biblical tale in “Paradise Lost;” but I actually consider Ga-in to be portraying the serpent in the tale.

Andy:  I saw Ga-in as playing both Eve and the serpent, where the serpent is the manifestation of Eve’s dark side.

Chelsea: I agree with you both. I think that the release was demonstrating that Eve and the serpent are one in the same — Ga-in embodied them both as a single force of temptation and liberation.

Gaya: It’s interesting that “Paradise Lost” is the only MV all of us have on our lists: I think this year saw a lot of quality MVs, but few were able to be (almost) universally acclaimed as one of the best.

Andy: Perhaps the reason we all had “Paradise Lost” on our lists is due to how…un-K-pop-like it was. It was dark, salacious, and done very well.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHB5jlv-Atg]

I think Sunny Hill’s “Child in Time” was one of the more overlooked MVs to be released this year. The nostalgic longing for youth resonated with me as a twenty something, and I love the bittersweet undertones of both he track and the MV. I included Red Velvet‘s “Ice Cream Cake” simply for aesthetic purposes. Creepy blue contacts aside, the MV is whimsical and visually pleasing. Also, Red Velvet kicked off a stream of out-of-the box releases from SM, which I’m more than happy to celebrate.

Gaya: I agonised for so long over the placement of the top two MVs on my list. “Mannequin” by Primary, which also features singer Suran and Beenzino, addresses consumerism and fashion in a withering manner. No matter how much our busker protagonist buys, she’s still stuck on the other side of the window, pining over the chic “money queen” mannequins.

Watching the MV was a sad and slight nauseating experience, which I think was the aim. You’re meant to feel uncomfortable about the status quo presented, where a roof over your head is less important than a new hat and a swipe of a credit card is enough to bed a woman.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeGm7MDq2fo]

There’s a passivity present in this narrative, which is why I ultimately placed “Mannequin” second and “Awoo” first. In this MV, we see Lim Kim presented as a pretty cake on display. However, the MV does not stick with just this perception, also showing the singer as a curious and mischevious cat, hiding away in closets and paper bags.

There are also roses, puzzles, yellow powder and mentions of wolves and foxes; imagery and metaphors run amok in the MV, giving it a dynamism that I absolutely love. It’s rare to see something like this executed with an intent that is not “look at this cool stuff!”

Morgan: “Awoo” came out as my clear favourite due to its odd humour and creativity; It brings together seemingly unconnected props to create a MV that is both visually stimulating and hilarious. As Lim Kim tried to get the attention of almost everything in the MV, it was easy for those who were watching to become engrossed in the message it presented. I fell in love with it and in effect Lim Kim too.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXPADwU05OQ]

Gaya: There are a couple of MVs that are on three lists. In my case, I’m missing Junsu‘s “Flower.” That MV didn’t make my list because the scene where Junsu and his posse are away from his lavish residence, on the outside, just doesn’t feel like it fits in with the MV. I also have an issue with the staging and editing, but that is minor.

Morgan: “Flower” was one of those MVs that some loved and some didn’t due to the amount of symbolism. I’m one of those people that enjoys spending hours over books, movies and music dissecting all the connections. So, “Flower” was a dream for me.

Andy: Whether or not people agree about an underlying story within Junsu’s MV, it’s difficult to deny that the choice of colors and props are eye-catching and rather unconventional.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK9gEpUVFyo]

Morgan: Lizzy’s “Goodbye PMS” stands out as one of the oddest MVs in K-pop history. However, I think it is brilliant. She took a subject that is usually not a part of polite conversation and made it approachable with humour and a little nerdiness.

The intense Evangelion or Transformers inspired fight scene between Lizzy and Park Myung-su was incredibly well done. with the dramatic music contrasting the humorous feel of the song. It took the MV to another level that I thought wasn’t possible because of the ordinary start to the MV. Even better, it confirmed all my suspicions; Park Myung-su really is the human embodiment of PMS.

Andy: “Goodbye PMS” and “Mannequin” were thisclose to being on my list. I managed to watch “PMS” a couple of weeks ago and was just laughing through it all. For those of us with uteruses, PMS is like this evil darkness that looms over our heads until we pop some medicine to kick its butt. At one time or another, most of us have been Lizzy and wanted to be as kick-ass as she was in the MV.

Gaya: I cannot believe I forgot “Goodbye PMS!” It’s my second favourite menstruation-related ad of all time.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMuscKEmV3I]

Andy: To be honest, though, most MVs so far this year have been rather mediocre or just the usual things we expect. Although I have not hated any particular one, most have left me feeling very meh, and I won’t be watching them again.

(YouTube[1][2][3][4][5]. Images via: Apop Entertainment, C-JeS Entertainment)