“Stan Loona,” the internet said, and boy did “Butterfly” (and [X X]) make me want to. Garnering more than 17 million views over a week, the music video aimed to “[cause] a Butterfly effect through music for the listeners to gain courage, find oneself, and raise one’s voice”.
“Butterfly” follows the abstract concepts and metaphorical images that were presented in Loona’s pre-debut solos, emphasised especially by the lyrics. The simplistic lyrics paint a persona wanting to chase her dreams, but the general concept remains intentionally vague, bringing across a dreamlike quality to the song. Even though they’re not incredibly complicated or packed with meaning, the simplicity of the lyrics compliments the other components of the song.
The modest lyrics are paired off with a leisurely yet bold instrumental and a visually appealing video. Boasting a more mature, experimental sound, “Butterfly” starts off cleanly with a progression of piano chords, before introducing neat beats of drums and synths. Save for a high-pitched hook, the song breaks through to the chorus with a sleek drop, clearing out the vocals and focusing purely on instrumentals.
K-Pop-EDM tracks are not foreign to this technique, but Loona’s “Butterfly” stands out in the way it maintains a dreamy, otherworldly vibe despite the use of heavy percussions like drums throughout the track. The instrumentals, as relaxing and easy to listen as they are, still expel a tinge of ethereal energy to keep the listener engaged.
The necessity of the pitched-up “fly like a butterfly” hook remains a point of contention, though the overall high-pitch of the chorus (and the pre-chorus) do accentuate the idea of reaching for the skies. The high tone aids in conveying the imagery of wings and skies that “Butterfly” aims to bring across.
Fly like a butterfly
On top of the clouds, synchronise
Let me fly right now.
Abstract lyrics and a minimalist instrumental might sound like a recipe for disaster — a song waiting for its inevitable verdict to only be as exciting as vanilla ice-cream could ever be — but producer G-High from MonoTree saves “Butterfly” with its choral variation and fitting, mellow rap.
In each of the three choruses, G-High switches up various elements to vary the song at different parts. In the second chorus, for example, additional voices are introduced to extend the hook. In the third, the drop and the pre-chorus melody are combined to deliver a slightly elevated impact, as compared to the other two choruses. The steady pulses of the beat keep you engrossed till the end of the song, with the song finishing sooner than you expected to too and leaving a quixotic aftertaste.
Admittedly, the most drawing factor of this song is the music video. The lighting of sets and colour grading in post-production was done in the most fitting way to depict the moody, slightly sensual, and celestial sound Loona was going for in “Butterfly”. Pastel colours are prominently used, and the highlights are brought down just a tad to lower the contrast in the visuals to bring a sort-of delicate, airy look to the video.
The contrast between the camerawork between the chorus and other verses also hits the nail on the head. The camerawork is comparatively stable and steady during the verses and pro-chorus, but takes up a purposefully shaky quality during the chorus, which enhances the pre-choral drop and choral instrumentals.
“Butterfly” garnered curiosity and views ever since its teaser dropped, featuring diverse women of a variety of ethnicities, ranging in colour, looks and sizes from all across the globe: Korea, Hong Kong, Iceland, France, China and the United States. Fulfilling their goal of “[capturing] the freedom and courage of girls worldwide in the music video”, “Butterfly” displays all the diverse women in the video striving for their own goals, unafraid.
One woman in a blue jacket is shown to be seated and hunched in an alley, before gathering the courage to throw off her jacket and boldly move forward. Another shows a female student sitting uniformly amongst other students before she stands on her table and looks to
Most of the women are also shown to be dancing their own styles, and it’s surprising that the transitions from Loona’s choreography to the dances of the various women featured are not jarring. Despite a significant disparity between the precise, choreographed steps of Loona and the free-style, contemporary moves of the dancers, the video is edited in a way that shifts between these two styles almost seamlessly. Additionally, it was a delight to see Loona’s choreography have references to a butterfly and its wings without being overtly cheesy.
“Butterfly” is possibly one of the only music videos that places such a large number of women from minority groups as the subject of the video, as opposed to the more common background vocalists or back-up dancers. Take the featuring of Elaine Chang. She’s a model with albinism, and was the first one to ever be featured in a K-Pop video with “Butterfly”. Also featured was Anisa Stoffel, shown not only in her hijab but also in front of a mosque. That’s not forgetting other women of colour who were pivotal and at the forefront of the music video, such as Cheyann Washington and Sydney Bourne.
Seeing that Loona’s intention was to bring across the idea of women collectively — regardless of looks, race, and religion — seeking their dreams with bravery and abandonment of fear, it’s influential and splendid that Digipedi, the production company, went all out to include women most other companies would have glossed over. Especially at a time when K-Pop is steadily gaining global traction, with no hints of slowing down.
Less is more, and Loona’s “Butterfly” proves that right. The production quality of the video, as well as the captivating simplicity of the song itself, are bound to attract fans, both old and new alike. Uncomplicated in its delivery, Loona has hit a home-run with “Butterfly”.