20160329_seoulbeats_got7In today’s K-pop scene where teaser pictures and videos, album highlight medleys, and pre-release singles are the norm, it is often easy to forget that such tactics haven’t always been around. While these marketing tactics can help to create anticipation for a debut or comeback, they can sometimes go overboard or backfire when they create expectations that are not met. GOT7‘s new release, “Fly”, is the latest case-in-point.

Lest the above looks like a precursor to a full-fledged rant, let me clarify: the MV does have some strong points, but it has been framed by a promotional strategy that promises certain qualities, and does not deliver on that front. I will be considering the MV from two perspectives: a viewer who has watched the “Flight Log: Departure” trailer, and a viewer who has not seen the trailer.

The trailer starts off with GOT7 being their usual goofy selves on a road trip. Then Junior falls asleep, and the scene cuts to a silent, fog-filled dreamscape. Junior is running on what appears to be a runway, fear and tears in his eyes. When he wakes up, GOT7 has arrived at their lodging, and the other members are playing around as Jackson goes around filming them. Here’s where the mystery really begins: Jackson walks right past Junior like he’s not there, leaving Junior looking confused.

Junior wakes up again, and this time he’s back in the camping van from the first scene. The other members are playing outside, when suddenly Youngjae begins to float, followed by the rest. The next sequence combines disparate scenes of each of the boys flying, and ends with an extreme close-up on Junior’s (pretty) eyes. He’s on the edge of a building, and he falls forward.

A number of comments on the video compare the trailer to BTS‘s The Most Beautiful Moment in Life cycle—“I Need U”, “on stage: prologue” (which functions as a trailer), and “Run”. The similarities are not difficult to spot: the scenes centre on a group of boys who are on a day or road trip, one of the boys seems curiously disconnected from the others, and there is a mix of reality and dream.

20160329_seoulbeats_got7-2Considering the success of The Most Beautiful Moment in Life cycle, it wouldn’t be surprising if the team behind GOT7’s comeback was taking a leaf out of BTS’s model. This is not unlikely, as K-pop groups do tend to borrow ideas from one another which over time can turn into familiar concepts. Borrowing isn’t an innately bad thing. If you can make someone else’s well-thought-out idea into your own, and make it work for you, why not? It may also be worth pointing out that this is not the first time GOT7 is using an element of mystery in their MVs, as JB‘s time travelling in “Stop Stop It” was a bit of a puzzle too.

In addition, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life was truly a tour de force. GOT7’s bright image has also generally been distinct from the darker edge that BTS has. If the production team could put their own spin on the mystery narrative and the melding of reality and dream to bring out GOT7’s own colour, it would be brilliant for the group’s development.

Given the expectations that the trailer set up, the MV was quite a letdown. The opening picks up from where the trailer left us, with Junior about to fall off the building. Then it cuts into almost two full minutes of purely dance scenes. This is followed by a sequence of the individual members flying, which comes off as somewhat tacky because of the lack of context.

It isn’t until the 2:41 mark that the viewer is given a tiny inkling of the story when Junior spots the other members flying near him, and his eyes widen and fill up with tears. And then the editing suddenly cuts back and forth between this scene and the dance sequences, disrupting the narrative. Some of the selca footage from the trailer’s roadtrip scene appears, and a shift back to the flying sequence shows Junior falling away from his members.

20160329_seoulbeats_got7-2After some digging around, I found that Flight Log: Departure has a second title track, “Home Run”, that will only be released in April. Since it will be a title track, it is likely to be accompanied by a MV, possibly the sequel to “Fly”. Still, there are two issues at hand. First, the fact that there will be an upcoming sequel was not clearly established. There wasn’t a “To be continued” (kitschy as that may be) at the end of the MV or in its description. The only indication of the second title track is in the tracklist that JYP Entertainment uploaded on its Twitter and Facebook, which could have easily been overlooked even by fans like me who have been following GOT7’s comeback news.

Second, it isn’t unreasonable to expect an MV to stand on its own, which “Fly” does not achieve. It seems a lot more like a dance MV with a teaser stitched in right at the end. There are a number of two-part K-pop MVs out there, such as the aforementioned BTS ones, T-Ara‘s “Day by Day” and “Sexy Love”, and the drama versions of EXO‘s “Wolf” and “Growl”. The quality of some of these MVs is debatable, but the individual releases tell a fair share of the story and provide narrative context in a way that “Fly” doesn’t.

20160329_seoulbeats_got7-5All that being said, “Fly” is not without its strengths. If a viewer had missed the trailer and went straight in for the MV teaser, the MV would have shaped up to be a pretty impressive dance-focused one. Dance and performance has been GOT7’s forte at the outset, and I’ve always found their Japanese PVs—all of which focus on dancing—enjoyable for this reason. The “Fly” choreography is dynamic, combining slower moves with quick, sharp ones, adding some aeroplane-shaped formations and gestures as a nod to the theme. Any fan who has watched a behind-the-scenes video of MV shoots will know how grueling it is. It can’t have been easy to do an outdoor shoot on a windy runway from day to night, but GOT7 delivers the moves.

Props also goes to the stylists, who paired shiny jackets with lurid colours and made it work on not just one, but seven people together. I remember thinking how JB’s hot pink coat in “If You Do” and Mark‘s cobalt blue blazer seemed like they shouldn’t work with the mood, but somehow did.

20160329_seoulbeats_got7-3Still, there is the problem of the hodgepodge of scenes at the end. Someone who did not watch the trailer might go in expecting it to be a dance MV, and end up absolutely baffled. On the other hand, someone who had seen the trailer would likely be disappointed, on top of being confused.

There are three possibilities that would have made the MV work better: to not have a trailer, keep the MV as it is, but also indicate more clearly that there is a sequel; keep the mix of dance and narrative, but include more of the latter; or just split the MV into a narrative version and a dance one, and develop the story scenes more.

The way things stand, we can only hope that “Home Run” will make up for “Fly”, because these boys deserve better.

Song Rating: 3.7/5

MV Rating: 2.8/5

Readers, what did you think of “Fly”? Was this a fair assessment?

(JYP Entertainment via Youtube, JYPnation on Twitter)