Humans have always held a fascination for the supernatural. We have different legends, different gods and fantastical creatures from different cultures. Griffins, unicorns, dragons, mermaids — but it doesn’t stop there. Not at all. We have people who possess otherworldly powers, the uncanny ability to read minds, superhuman strength or speed. It all sounds like something straight out of Hollywood or a fairy tale too, not something we’d normally associate with K-pop.

Well my friend, how wrong that thought is.

K-pop has proven itself time and time again as something perfectly capable of grabbing almost anything and incorporating it into an MV or song. Of course, how well it turns out is questionable, say, SHINee‘s rather awkward attempt at spinning a detective plot with “Sherlock.” And then there are the ones that play off quite well (you liked SNSD‘s “Oh!”, you did, deep down). If we’re talking supernatural though, IU probably snatches first place with her debut song “Lost Child.”

It definitely isn’t something for the faint-hearted, considering the somewhat graphic images present in the MV. The storyline too, is heavy, where IU travels down into the underworld in search of her dead lover. Naturally, we are provided with a fabulous set, complete with decay and filled with writhing bodies. We follow her search, where she appears to be attacked and is eventually granted one last moment with her deceased lover (Thunder and IU shippers, rejoice). To be completely frank, this is probably IU’s best work to date in terms of artistic expression. The MV really pushes it with the intricate costuming of both IU and the back dancers. It’s certainly not very fun or gimmicky but it makes an impact, so props to this talented girl. An honourable mention, also from Loen Entertainment goes to Sunny Hill for their eerie delivery of “Midnight Circus.”

But of course, this compilation would not at all be complete without our favourite zombies, 2PM and more recently T-ara. To be fair, 2PM didn’t really go for the literal route in terms of costuming, where blood splatters and organs spilling out were absent. Instead, they donned suits and proceeded to look absolutely stunning. Their choreography embodies the entire zombie concept and at a superb level as well. The spasm-like movements, the allusions to a puppet master, the swaying — I loved it. Still, they didn’t stop there. 2PM had incorporated a dark vibe into the sets as well. Dim lighting, sand and pebbles in which to lay in and sing while appearing deeply pained. A fair portion of it reeks of fanservice, but that’s almost a given in K-pop, so it’s forgiven. On the other hand, T-ara was somewhat disappointing with their take on zombies. Still, it was an entertaining journey for the viewers, complete with classic nightclub scenes and zombies reaching out for fresh meat. “Lovey Dovey” truly isn’t the best song to use when fiddling around with the undead, but T-ara carried on the fun and quirky side of the song and made it work.

So maybe the zombies didn’t make the cut. What about the vampires?  Did the ladies of 4Minute impress? Not really. That vampire concept that rolled in definitely wasn’t the perfection I had been hoping for. In fact, the vampire concept wasn’t even drawn out in full, despite the gothic styling in the “Volume Up” MV. Even so, 4Minute’s stylists seemed to know what they were doing with the austere costuming — those flowing dresses will not be easily forgotten — and of course, the fabulous set. Considering these points, while 4Minute ultimately failed to incorporate the vampire concept into their comeback effectively, the styling that stemmed from it was gorgeous, so a few plus points do go their way. Also from Cube but certainly not as blatant — I’m sure all everyone was wondering — why did Junhyung and Park Bo-young burst into dust? Was that a subtle vampire vibe hidden in the heartbreak and sharp foot-work in “Fiction”?

The most elaborate and deeply flawed supernatural K-pop concept would belong to who else but rookies, EXO, complete with bad English and impressive computer graphics. And as Natalie has expressed earlier in her review of the MV, neither versions were exactly flawless at carrying the whole, overdone concept. After a long stint of people left and right complaining about SM‘s refusal to let their artists film in fresh air, they had tried to grant our wishes with “MAMA”. The teaser had been promising, yes, with small sections displaying the members’ individual abilities, ranging from healing to teleportation (so that’s why Kai was in everyone’s teasers). But of course, we should have known, K-pop teasers are notorious for being better than the actual MV or nothing like it — and even both of the former. When “MAMA” dropped, it had a Google-translated opening, obscure screaming sections performed by Kai in EXO-K‘s version and Xiumin and Kris in EXO-M‘s, and no additional individual shots which carried the storyline and present the twelve members’ abilities. It’s quite safe to say that the while the original idea of it must have been a spark of genius in SM’s conference rooms, the execution of it was just so wrong.

If SM did anything right with the supernatural, though, it’d probably be SM The Ballad‘s reserved incorporation of angels in “Miss You”. The plot wasn’t really all that complicated. We are introduced to a photographer who one day, stumbles upon a fallen angel and brings her home, nursing her back to health. And of course, as per K-pop fashion, our male and female lead fall in love. But alas, they are not meant to be and the angel is taken away by some other angels in white suits. It’s really not the best MV around but it gets the job done with minimal embarrassment and its fair share of K-drama-esque romantic moments.

Some attempts were ground-breaking, others, not so much. Regardless, this supernatural trend is something that I, for one, would enjoy seeing grow. Not flourish, because that would probably bring in a torrent of badly-done unicorns and psychics — rather, grow, because I’m sure that we’d like a little bit more of supernatural quirkiness in our K-pop.

(Loen Entertainment, SM Entertainment)