20150317_Seoulbeats_Gain_Paradise_lostAs 2015 winds to a close, we at Seoulbeats continue our rundown of favorite K-pop things during 2015. We’ve covered our favorite K-indie acts, dances, comebacks, and debuts. Today, we discuss MVs.

Hania, Lauren M, and Willis discuss their favorite MVs released this year. While some MVs from mid-year review hold over, there are also some new additions that sprung up in the latter half of the year. What MVs have impressed them and made their lists?

Hania Lauren M Willis
1 Beenzino – “Break”
Red Velvet – “Dumb Dumb”
Ga-in – “Paradise Lost”
2 Red Velvet – “Dumb Dumb”
Lim Kim – “Awoo”
IU – “Twenty-Three”
3 BTS – “Run”
Shinee – “Married to the Music”
Shinee – “Married to the Music”
4 Got7 – “Just Right”
Ga-in – “Paradise Lost”
Got7 – “Just Right”
5 IU – “Twenty-Three”
The Wonder Girls – “I Feel You”
Brown Eyed Girls – “Brave New World”

Lauren M: I want to start off by saying that SM really brought it this year in terms of MVs. Red Velvet had visual stunners with “Ice Cream Cake” and “Automatic” early in the year, but, for me, their masterpiece was “Dumb Dumb” in the summer. Shinee and f(x) also got great MVs, and EXO had stunning teasers for their Exodus album. SM’s creative team was really on their A game.

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

Other shout-outs should go to director Digipedi, who brought colorful and quirky MVs for Lim Kim, Stellar, and a slew of other artists, and Lumpens, who directed the lush and head-scratching trilogy of MVs/promotional videos for BTS’ Most Beautiful Moment in Life series.

Honorable mentions:
BTS – “Run”
Big Bang – “Bae Bae”
Sunggyu – “Kontrol
Anda – “Touch

Hania: I’m definitely with Lauren on the fact that Digipedi really killed it this year. For me, Beenzino‘s funny and simple “Break” was a highlight: I can watch it again and again without getting bored. I was definitely a fan of the more quirky MVs that came out this year, many of which make up my top 5 list.

Willis: It was tough putting this list together. I completely agree with your assessments on both Digipedi and SM, Lauren. Those teams have crafted some creative and beautiful visuals to pair with a number of K-pop’s offerings this year.

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

My top pick went to Ga-in‘s “Paradise Lost.” I really loved the bold nature of that MV. I still get chills when I watch that sequence where Ga-in does floor work to embody the movement of the snake, and the last section where the reflection changes to reveal the dual sides to Ga-in is stunning.

I noticed that you both have Red Velvet’s “Dumb Dumb” listed fairly high up on your lists. It barely missed making mine, — I opted for the Shinee MV instead — but what was it about that Red Velvet MV that stood out?

Lauren M: This year had a ton of great MVs. I keep second guessing my list… but ultimately I think I did okay. For me, “Dumb Dumb” gets the number one spot because it was a perfect marriage of concept, visuals, effects, editing, and song. The perfect storm in a K-pop MV, really. “Paradise Lost” was lacking a bit for me in the editing and song categories, but it’s probably the most beautiful K-pop MV to come out in a long time. I really liked “Brave New World” as well but ultimately I left it off my list.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGdbaEDVWp0]

IU‘s “Twenty-Three” was definitely one I was expecting to find on someone’s list. I was surprised to learn it was directed by Lumpens, not Digipedi, because the style was similar. But Lumpens has a bit of a darker aesthetic that I really enjoy. Less Technicolor and more grit, but still beautifully shot.

I’m interested in the choice of Got7‘s “Just Right.” What about this MV stood out to you?

Willis: I think Got7’s “Just Right” was a really bright and fun MV. The color palette was on point, and I found the cute humor mixed with the nice message of the lyrics to be complementary. Even the slow motion camera of them floating in air seemed to work well, heightening the fantasy elements of the Got7 members existing in this shrunken reality.

Lumpens are knocking it out of the ballpark this year. What I loved about IU’s “Twenty-Three” was how it translated this Alice in Wonderland theme on screen. I felt like it captured this essence of IU being caught in between adolescence and maturity. One scene that comes to mind is when the silhouette of IU appeared to be caught smoking, but when she stepped into the light, it turned out to be a party horn instead of a cigarette. I really enjoyed the creativity and set pieces in the “Twenty Three” MV.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=42Gtm4-Ax2U]

Lumpens also did The Wonder GirlsI Feel You,” which barely missed making my list, but I see it made yours, Lauren. That video was beautifully shot, with the washed out 80s vibes falling into The Wonder Girls’ pocket of retro modernity. What did you love about “I Feel You?”

Lauren M: What kept Got7 off of my list was the over-abundance of cute. I think I have an allergy to cute concepts! But I really enjoyed the choreo and bright colors of “Just Right.”

“I Feel You” made me so happy when I first watched it. They really nailed the concept. The MV reminded me of all my favorite 80’s movies and music videos, but it was also tongue-in-cheek and very sly. The Girls looked so cool and there was even a key-tar (a guitar/keyboard hybrid, for the uninitiated). It was a throwback, but it still felt fresh and very different from what other girl groups were doing this year. And it was sexy, but in an edgy, grown-up way, just like the Wonder Girls.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9QXQz6uE0M]

I didn’t know Lumpens did “I Feel You” but with that knowledge, I think it’s official –  Lumpens is my MV MVP this year.

What other MVs just barely missed your lists? For me, “Run” by BTS quickly became a favorite. Big Bang’s “Bae Bae” was trippy and colorful and Sunggyu’s “Kontrol” was well shot and sentimental, without being melodramatic. Another MV I forgot to mention before was Primary‘s wonderfully creepy “Don’t Be Shy” which featured AOA‘s Choa as the leader of a coven of witches.

Hania: Big Bang had a streak of really wacky and creative videos this year, many of which narrowly missed by list. I’m with you on “Bae Bae”, Lauren! With its cheeky references and imagery, it was super fun to watch and try to decipher.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKD03uPVD-Q]

Willis: I have a bunch of honorable mentions!

Esna & Mamamoo‘s “Ahh Oop” was so well done. The color scheme, styling, and graphics were crisp and aesthetically pleasing. I like the magazine spread edited shots and their scenes in the barbershop added some light humor. Another MV that had great editing was EXID‘s “Ah Yeah. The way that MV played on censorship and sexuality was incredibly interesting and really made a statement.  Xia Junsu‘s “Flower” was also another beautifully shot and epic MV that probably deserved a spot on my list, but alas.

There were also some other notable MVs that were intriguing in one aspect or another. I spun around my room a bunch of times watching Infinite‘s “Bad” because of the 360 VR. That was a lot of fun — albeit a bit nausea inducing — and possibly something that may factor itself into future K-pop MVs. I also really loved the lighting in Vixx LR‘s “Beautiful Liar.” “Beautiful Liar” as a whole was just so well constructed, but the way the light moved was enchanting. From the swinging light fixtures to shifting spotlights, I really appreciated how the MV understood how deliberate their usage of shadows and light was to shift the viewer’s focus and create texture. I’ll give one final nod to San E‘s MVs “Me You” with Baek Ye-rin and “Sour Grapes” with Mad Clown. “Me You” employed some cute typography and Instagram cuts, and the color and symbolism in that MV screamed Digipedi, which is a great thing. “Sour Grapes” also had a great touch to it. The comic sensibilities in that video really helped to enhance the song.

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

Hania: I also loved Vixx LR’s “Beautiful Liar”, Willis, due to the atmosphere it created and the lasting impact this had on the viewer.

My other honourable mentions are primarily made of girl groups, who I feel really excelled this year. f(x)’s “Four Walls” was a standout, with the dreamy outdoor setting being the perfect escape from the box setting that f(x) have been confined to. “The Light” by The Ark was also beautiful in its storytelling and cinematography, looking more like a short film than a standard K-pop MV. Similarly, the cinematography and setting of Taeyeon’s “I” is just too pretty to not mention, with SM’s production team really going above and beyond to ensure the MV had a distinct look. “Ah Yeah” by EXID was perfect with its tongue-in-cheek humour, editing, acting and sets, as well as the larger point that the MV makes about censorship and unfair treatment of women in the music industry.

Willis: Overall, I enjoyed the MVs that came out this year. As we all have noted, there were great works from certain directors and entertainment agencies. SM Entertainment’s creative team have been thinking outside of the box and it has paid off in the videos that have come out of their camp. Also, more artists are utilizing directors like Lumpens, Digipedi, and Hwang Soo-ah (she directed Ga-in’s “Paradise Lost,” Brown Eyed Girls’ “Brave New World,” and Shinee’s “Married To The Music” MVs). These folks are able to craft compelling stories to some of the most colorful K-pop songs. Sometimes that makes all the difference. A great MV can entice a viewer to hit replay and that additional iteration can hook you and/or leave a deep, lasting impression.

Any final thoughts on the MVs of 2015?

20151201_seoulbeats_bts2Hania: As you say, Willis, the amount of storytelling in this year’s MVs has really been a highlight. As writers at Seoulbeats, we’ve enjoyed being able to analyze and pull apart many such MVs like “Run” or “Bae Bae” that have layers of meaning and imagery. Rookie groups like Red Velvet and Seventeen have also managed to create a distinctive aesthetic for themselves, which is vital for the group’s overall branding. To sum it up, the year’s seen a great range of MVs and many groups have been able to solidify a distinctive style through their MVs.

Lauren M: I definitely agree with Hania. I also loved the artistic and thematic depth that a lot of K-pop MVs showcased this year. From concepts to cinematography, a ton of MVs felt very fresh. The “dance in a box” MV will never completely die out, but it was awesome this year to see directors working in tandem with K-pop groups (and companies) to create beautiful and edgy work.


Did you agree with our writers’ choices? What were some of your favorite MVs of 2015? What did we miss that you would have included?

(YouTube [1][2][3][4][5], Images via: Big Hit Entertainment, Mystic Entertainment, SM Entertainment)