Oh, K-Pop. Why are you so pretty? As much as we love the music produced by the good old K-Pop machine, it’d be useless to deny that a good portion of Korean Pop is about the aesthetics. And what’s the most aesthetically engaging part of a new comeback or release? The Music Video, or the MV. If a music video is great, it can make a mediocre song seem phenomenal. If a music video is bad, then we can all sit back and laugh at it. While JYJ‘s ‘In Heaven’ took home the honour for best music video of the year on our poll, and we acknowledge that certain aspects of it were well-made (storyline in an idol MV? Impossible!), we believe that there are other MVs out there worthy of some recognition. So for this article we, Ree and Subi, name and discuss some of the best, and worst, music videos of 2011.

Best Music Videos of the Year

#3. Trouble Maker, Hyunseung & Hyuna

Sex sells and Hyunseung and Hyuna are selling it in “Trouble Maker.” Using inappropriately appropriate mise en scene in a lavish hotel, filled with bold colors, animal prints, skimpy dresses, and fitted suits, the music video cultivates the perfect pallete for a risqué song, dance, and performance. And then in a series of quick cuts as well as graphic & action matches, the music video takes us on a whirlwind journey between a game of cat and mouse between the handsome Hyunseung and the sultry Hyuna that results in a climax of tension—both sexual and violent. “Trouble Maker” is a music video that uses the camera to enhance the aural ear candy with its own brand of visual eye candy, filled with the colors, patterns, pace, and style of the very dangerous arousal that the song itself is all about. For using the camera to sing a sexy tale of boys and girls misbehaving, “Trouble Maker” is 2011’s Third Best MV.


#2. Love Song, Big Bang:

Love Song‘, the song itself was simple, clean, and had no frills attached. It isn’t something you’d particularly expect from Big Bang, but it isn’t something that’s out of their reach either. For a song like ‘Love Song‘, the best way to go is really simplicity, and the MV managed to do that whilst still adding a touch of the signature YG grandeur that we all love.

No gimmicks attached — that’s what makes ‘Love Song‘ such a great MV. There are no solo shots of the members making angsty faces at the camera, the focus isn’t on some kind of fly choreography. Everything about it is so different from your standard idol affair, and as a result it really stood out in the grand scheme of things. Whilst some fans argue that no Big Bang MV is a standard idol affair (a claim which is debatable, but that’s another story), then ‘Love Song‘ still sticks out by being above your standard Big Bang MV. There is no mirror smashing, or running from G-Dragon’s side. There is also a noticeable lack of foreign women getting all up on them in a club. Instead we have what was intended to be one unsaturated long shot of the members walking in circles amongst a smoky wreckage — representative of their lover’s death. For ‘Love Song‘ the boys ditched the bling for the most part, and kept it clean and relevant.

Style? Check. Creativity? Check. Relevance to the song? Check. Which was why even though ‘Love Song‘ only placed fourth on our ‘Best MV for 2011 poll’, to me it was one of the most minimalist, but also one of the most creative and beautifully constructed, artistic masterpieces of the year — and possibly one of the best YG has ever created.


#1. Cleansing Cream, Brown Eyed Girls

In a mode of music that is dominated by frivolous fun, superficial satisfaction, and capricious captivation, “Cleansing Cream” gave us a music video that shed constructed artifice and instead embraced intellectual and emotional artistry. Brown Eyed Girls removed themselves from the MV and allowed a collection of story, character, and semiotics to unfold in a manner that evoke the expressions interwoven in the music, lyrics, and power of this song. Through juxtaposing montage, free camera, symmetrical and asymmetrical composition within frames, the music video sets up a series of investigative oppositions that explore several thoughts, emotions, and ideas and the inherent tensions between opposing forces. The real versus the fake, the external versus the internal, even the want versus the need–these are all things that this video, in conjunction with the music, asks us to consider. Instead of passively entertaining, this is a music video that actively engages its audience with aesthetic and technical charm and skill and in order to have us consider the root of external and internal human conflict. For delighting our minds and hearts, “Cleansing Cream” is the Best MV of 2011.


Worst Music Videos of the Year

#3. The Boys, SNSD

I’m a bit conflicted with ‘The Boys‘. On one hand, the visuals are stunning and the girls look amazing. But what’s the point of spending so much money on a dove music video, when it makes no sense whatsoever?

That’s a nice shiny rock, but how did it get so big and what does it mean? Where are those rose petals coming from? Wow, that slow motion dove release is hilarious, is this meant to be funny? Does the dove hold the meaning of life? Yuri, you look really hot throwing sand in your face, and that is very nice sand, but huh? The execution of the concept of this MV is so poor, that stunning visuals aside, it’s a bit of a disappointment.


#2. Jelly Pop, G.P Basic

For parading a menagerie of peroxide, chest pops, and pre-pubescent girls in front of a cheaply noticeable green screen, “Jelly Pop” by GP Basic is the 2nd Worst MV of 2011.


#1. A-Cha, Super Junior

So SM isn’t the greatest when it comes to making music videos, I know that, they know that, we all know that. The thing with them is they use a tired out formula, and they also tend to focus on the performance aspects of songs. Which isn’t a bad thing per say, but when they completely butcher even that, there’s really nothing left going for their MVs. And that’s where ‘A-Cha‘ falls flat. It doesn’t properly capture the performance aspect of the song, and instead we’re left with awkward mirror and overlay effects for close-ups, as well as misplaced whoosh noises. Which leaves it at the bottom of the barrel even when it comes to SM music videos. Unimpressed, boys. Unimpressed. Plus, the unfortunate dance version number one, is it real??? It’s enough to make a girl lose hope, or at least it’s enough to be crowned the worst MV of 2011.


And that’s a wrap for 2011! Whilst some Music Videos shone and really pushed the boundaries of what we expected, others fell into the pool of generic-ness and left us with a sour taste in our mouths. Nonetheless, the idols remain pretty, the music remains jammable, and all in all it was a pretty okay run for 2011. Here’s to 2012, and hoping it brings even greater things.