Following the solo activities of her fellow Brown Eyed Girls members, it is finally leader JeA‘s turn to step into the solo spotlight. This solo debut has been a long time coming, and JeA has not disappointed with her mini-album Just JeA and title song “While You Were Sleeping.”
Unlike her other members, and indeed, a large part of the K-pop industry, JeA eschews a performance-based aesthetic in favour of a musical-style ballad. Choreography and fancy outfits have been swapped out for a mini-orchestra — but that doesn’t mean that “While You’re Sleeping” is devoid of drama.
Band MVs are a curious bunch; it seems the main question surrounding them is: “how do we make them more interesting?” For it seems that there is most likely a fear that the static nature of a band MV would lead to the disinterest of the viewer. Though a gorgeous backdrop, multiple close-ups of the photogenic band members/singers and, of course, great music would keep viewers appeased (as with the band version MV for J-min‘s “Stand Up”, it would not be long before something more stimulating is sought out.
As such, band MVs are generally infused with drama, with a plot intercutting a band performing the song on their instruments as a way to maintain viewer interest. In K-pop, FNC labelmates FT Island and CN Blue are leading examples with MVs like the former’s latest release “I Wish” and the latter’s popular hit “LOVE Girl,” which also displays the common trope of having the members playing together form the climax of a band MV (which can also be seen in CN Blue’s “I’m A Loner“)
Of course, the drama portion can be outsourced to other actors and/or idols, something that has been a trend for TRAX‘s last few MVs before Jay and Jungmo‘s enlistment, as well as with FT Island’s haunting MV for “Love Love Love.”
Like JeA, other group artists gone solo have also taken up with a band, like Infinite‘s Kim Sung-gyu; though there is a band version for his MV for “60 Seconds,” the members of his band are integrated much more into the MV for his follow-up song “I Need You,” where we see the musicians litter Sung-gyu’s path on his journey to his loved one.
And thus, we arrive at JeA’s “While You’re Sleeping.” Of the aforementioned MVs, it takes after “I Need You” the most; however, it doesn’t stop at just showcasing the musicians, but makes them a part of the song’s narrative and emotion as well. As a lament of one-sided love, JeA sings of the anguish she feels seeing the object of her desire love another woman. Her pain and emotional state is displayed by having the musicians float around the darkly lit and abandoned set of rooms in which the MV takes place. The musicians are her companions in grief: they are almost always visible and occupying the same space as JeA. We start the MV with JeA surrounded by instruments, and even in the one scene where she is be alone, a piano and its player soon appear. Taking these instruments out of their expected environment and instead having them float about, perched atop a pile of chairs and even dragged down a hallway adds to the unsettled feel of the MV
The way the MV was lit is also interesting to note; while at the beginning we see light streaming in from the windows, the descent of night as the MV wears on sees lightbulbs and other artificial lighting becoming more prominent, until, in the end, all the lights go out. The MV literally becomes darker and darker as the camera work becomes more and more disorienting. It subtly mirrors JeA’s retreat from reality into a self thrown into turmoil.
As for the aforementioned use of the camera: there are many different kinds of shots, all used to create a sense of unsettledness. From the first shot, which spirals out from the room light fixture, to the various dolly shots which see the camera move left, then right, and even right up to JeA herself. Shaky cam also makes an appearance here, further illustrating JeA’s anxiety. Though some of the camera work became onerous and taxing to watch towards the end, its frantic pace matched the music perfectly, as well as the desperation of the lyrics; it was dynamic, and the lack of precision in some shots, where you can see the camera wobbling slightly as it moved, lent the MV a rawness that could also be heard in the song.
While not the most beautiful-looking MV, “While You’re Sleeping” gets the job done as a visual accompaniment to the music, and gives another take on the band MV; in fact, it’s lack of polish is determinedly its most distinctive feature — it’s chaotic. I give the MV a score of 3.4 out of 5.
What are your thoughts on JeA’s MV? Did you like the different camera shots and how the musicians were used? And what is your favourite band MV? I couldn’t list all of them here, but I would love to hear about them in the comments below!
(SM Entertainment, FNC Music, Woollim Entertainment, Nega Network)