Big Hit Entertainment‘s flagship group and JYP Nation citizen 2AM kicked off Spring in K-pop last week with their second studio album One Spring Day and title track of the same name. It’s a new season and a new comeback, but alas a new outlook is not what we receive from 2AM, who stick to what they know: sad ballads and tears.
Jasper is on the money when he described the song as “bland” and “overly dramatic” in his review of 2AM’s album. The prominent snare drum and staccato piano notes are the heroes of the verses, balancing out the lightness of all the other elements including Seulong and Jinwoon‘s vocals, but the swell of music that comes with the chorus is overpowering and throws off the balance that had been maintained throughout the verses. Changmin‘s belting in particular, as great as it is, ends up making Seulong and Jinwoon’s contributions appear flimsy, though Jo Kwon manages to hold his own.
Seulong, at least, has the starring role in the MV for “One Spring Day.” Clad in black, he revisits moments in a past relationship, represented here as a softly lit brick corridor lined with replicas of his apartment door.Most are lined along the corridor with one at the end wall, sunlight balefully shining through the rectangular transom.
The various times in the relationship are presented anachronologically; our first experience of the relationship is of its end, with the girl packing her clothes while a nonplussed Seulong can only watch on. The next door opens to happier times between the couple, where Seulong presents the girl with a carving in her likeness, a symbol of his love; Seulong smiles at this memory.
Crossing to the other side of the corridor, Seulong hesitates in front of the slightly ajar door. He pushes it open though, and his moment of trepadition happens to be spot on: the girl shouts and yells at a visibly taken aback Seulong, and holds him back when he tries to leave. The turning point comes when Seulong removes himself from her grasp and walks out. The Seulong of the present remembers returning home to discover that the girl has finished moving out. It turns out that after some deliberation, she has left behind the carving he made for her. This sign that she did not accept his love is what sends Seulong over the edge. As he clutches the carving, his brow furrows, his eyes start to water, and a single tear slides down his cheek. And there’s our money shot.
The only door left unopened is the one at the end of the corridor; behind it are scenes from happier times in the relationship: Seulong (wearing a different black outfit) and the girl holding hands over some home-made coffee; him kissing her on the forehead; and finally, him adding the finishing touches to his carving. The door closes on this scene, and Seulong walks away.
Once upon a time I wished that 2AM would stop singing such sad songs and try a happy tune or two; however, I’m beginning to see the value of their current image. That “men don’t cry” is a well-established social more, so its inversion is more noticeable to the average person for being outside of the norm. With emotionally charged ballads being their bread and butter, 2AM have all the more reason to exploit this trope as part of their image, particularly with attracting the female demographic. A lot of ladies have a thing for men who cry and 2AM is only tapping into that interest. So, 2AM, you keep spilling those manly tears and making fangirls clutch their chests in ecstatic despair as they gleefully lament over your on-screen sorrow.
However, 2Am could stand to have better MVs. The plot is very ho-hum, but as much as a cohesive story that is not overwrought would be appreciated,the story of this MV serves its purpose in providing an impetus for Seulong’s tears. The styling, though, is the biggest flaw. The colour pallet used is just drab: Spring usually brings to minds a variety of colours, even in pastel hues; the beige and white seen throughout the MV fail to attract attention, and the contrast with Seulong’s black suit was not sharp enough; having Seulong wear another set of black clothes also diminished the impact of the initial set.
Big Hit also released a vocal version of their MV which excised the plot, and the styling here is slightly more bearable. Seulong and Jinwoon are fine, while Jo Kwon really impresses with his look: the longer hair fashioned in a softer style than seen before gives him a more delicate and innocent appearance, with the glasses in the “garden” set further enhancing that look. Unfortunately, volumnising Changmin’s hair doesn’t yield as impressive results. The sets are fairly nondescript, being in more shades of beige and brown; the garden set was more interesting with its plant-covered pianos and cherry blossom petal shower, but its artifice was admittedly hard to ignore.
While 2AM doesn’t have to worry about learning new choreography like other idol groups, it also loses a visual hook that could attract viewers. As such, it only seems logical that more effort would be put into the other visual aspects like styling and a narrative. Yet, “One Spring Day” ends up being like the song itself — bland and uninspiring, garnering it a score of only 2.2 out of 5 from me.
What did you think of the MV, readers? And what are your thoughts on manly tears as a marketing tool?
(Big Hit Entertainment, YouTube )