Hello and welcome back to another Seoulbeats Roundtable!
B1A4‘s latest MV has sparked much discussion; and during the conversation on Seoulbeats, one of our readers, smo_ore, asked us if there has there been a MV which has dramatically improved our liking of a song? If this is true for you, what was it about the MV that made the song click for you?
We put their question to the team and these are the answers we received.
Shweta: This is really a hard question because either one, you have to like the song before liking MV or two, you tend to listen to a song for the first time by watching the MV. Therefore, finding an MV that made the music experience significantly better is not too common. That said, K-pop is a very visually dominated musical genre (it sound weird when I say it) because the performance can do a lot to affect our perception of a song. A recent example would be SHINee‘s “Why So Serious?” a song that is terrible, but made better by SHINee’s live performance skills and energy. The only problem is, the MV was bad too, so that might debunk everything I just said.
Now to actually answering the question: An obvious pick would be BEG‘s “Abracadabra” because that MV took that song to all sorts of heights I would have never imagined just by listening to the song (I guess “Gangnam Style” fits this category too…though I don’t love that song per se) A unique favorite of mine is Kim Hyun-joong‘s “Lucky Guy” which is a song I don’t think I would have liked as much without the MV. For the longest time, I never understood why people loved Hyun-joong so much, and that was the MV that made me understand. He’s certainly charming, and I thought the storyline was entertaining and added some depth to the song. Not the “Cleansing Cream” kind of depth, but the retro feel of the MV helped me enjoy the song more.
Leslie: Watching a MV helps me like a song more, but it rarely is a dramatic improvement to me. Usually I already like the song at least somewhat before I watch the MV, like Shweta mentioned.
A current example that would be close is B1A4’s “What’s Going On?” because the song is a bit disjointed to me, but the MV capitalizes on that and works well with it. But I also have to admit that I kind of listened to that song enough times to fall in love with its weirdness despite feeling like it doesn’t really work as a song.
I think the best example for me would be “Standing Still” by U-Kiss. I really did not like the song when I first heard it, but when I watched the MV, I actually started to like it. I come from a dance background so that’s often what sells a MV for me, and I really enjoyed the choreography for “Standing Still.” Plus, it helped that AJ (my bias) was back with the group.
But those are both exceptions for me because more often than not, I’m disappointed with a MV for a song because of the dance or concept or something else.
Ambika: Like Leslie, if a music video makes me like a song, it’s because of the choreography, especially since decent story lines aren’t around often. That’s probably why I like a lot of SHINee and Beast‘s music videos, and some of that carries over into their songs.
But a music video that really brought more meaning and made the already good song better was SHINee’s PV for “1000 Years, Always By Your Side.” That is probably one of the only videos to actually bring tears to my eyes from how sweet it was, and it definitely made that song one I listen to more regularly.
Amy: MVs only make songs better of I didn’t like the song that much to begin with and then I got to see it in conjunction with choreography. This was 100% the case with f(x)‘s “NU ABO.”
Since we’re talking about visual experience, though, I’ll cheat for a little and talk about practice videos. (Go me, for always bringing on tangents!) The MV for U-Kiss’ “Stop Girl” didn’t do much for me, but the practice video just brought the song from an 85 to a 250 for me.
Lindsay: I’m going to go ahead and say it: “Gangnam Style.” I actually prefer “Gentleman” as a song, I’ll listen to it anytime with just the audio, but “Gangnam Style” isn’t as appealing to me music wise. Without the initial shock and hilarity of the music video and the association with the horse dance it just doesn’t do much for me. Sure, it is still catchy, but that is definitely one MV I’ll take over the song any day.
Shweta: Lindsay, though I really don’t like either song, I’ll have to agree with you on that one. “Gentleman” is kind of the foil to “Gangnam Style” since I think the MV does nothing to help “Gentleman” though “Gentleman” is more of a “song” than “Gangnam Style” is.
Mark: MVs that bring forth a deeper meaning to the song certainly improve my perception of the song’s quality. The best examples are “Ugly” by 2NE1 and “Sixth Sense” by BEG. As songs, they’re decent and lyrically subdued, but when they’re combined with the overflowing symbolism in their respective MVs, the themes conveyed become magnified tenfold, leaving us with a chilling and daunting critique of society and media. It’s rare to find a MV that will evoke such a critical degree of social commentary as these two, but “Cleansing Cream,” also by BEG, and “Pray” by Sunny Hill certainly falls into this category.
As for dance practice videos, I’m won over every time I watch Teen Top‘s sophisticated choreography. In the case of “To You,” I was won over by watching a Waveya cover of their choreography.
Gaya: Funny you mention Teen Top, Mark, because their MVs have the opposite effect on me; I enjoy their songs much more without the visuals, which are often bordering on creepy. if anyone has suggestions for Teen Top MVs that I might like, send them my way.
And being a very visual person myself (as in, my understanding of the world is in a visual context, I am not a visual), I find that, unlike Shweta, Leslie and Ambika there are MVs which make me appreciate a song much, much more. A recent example of this would be Lee Hi‘s “It’s Over:” I found it meandering, but the cute, bright and funny visuals presented in the MV really improved my perception of the song. Sure, the MV doesn’t have a definite narrative either, but it was a lot more entertaining and the music suited it.
Miyoko: It’s a good point about dance versions and/or practice videos; if the choreography really complements the song, it can help me visualize the music. Sound elements I didn’t notice before pop, and a lot of times I prefer them to the actual MV. An example in this vein for me would be SNSD‘s “Genie.”
I’m finding this surprisingly difficult, because there aren’t many videos that made go 180 on a song. There are plenty where the visuals enhanced the song, but if I’m talking about a drastic change of heart, usually the MV links to another interest of mine. An example would be 2NE1’s “Hate You.” I love that song, but I’m pretty sure it’s because the MV is animated, and I love animation. This makes it more personal, but that’s what it takes for me to love a song that I find “meh” by itself.
Nicholas: Most of the time, I tend to like a song first before checking out the MV, so the MV really just tilts my impressions a little bit.
There are times though, when the MV really transforms the experience, as in the case of Infinite. “The Chaser” very nicely created the feeling of a guy who would keep sticking by the girl through various abstract scenarios, and the same could also be said of “Be Mine”.
On the other hand, MVs that really played down the quality of the song would be Beast’s “Beautiful Night” and SNSD’s “Bad Girl”. In Beast’s case, a great song let down by a music video that was the result of a budget gone awry, and in SNSD’s case, a great song coupled to a video that could have been shot out of a basement. Yes, I know most J-pop girl group PVs are made on pretty small scale budgets, and it was nice to be a bit humble, but come on! SNSD being the bold new entrant could do well to go big in this case! Given how much they spent on the posters in Shibuya…
Fannie: Really good choreography (showcased in the MV or on stage) can definitely add a lot of value to an otherwise mediocre song… agreed with Amy on how it made “NU ABO” palatable, and off the top of my head, “Lucifer” was like that for me, too.
Another group whose MVs really help to make their music pop would be Orange Caramel, especially their releases tend to be a bit more creatively (or heavily) themed than your typical smorgasbord of K-pop love angst. Of course, since most international fans aren’t fluent in Korean (and let’s be honest, most of the time we don’t even bother looking up the lyrics) we all rely on the MV to show us what exactly a song is supposed to be about.
(Images via: WM Entertainment, Unite Asia Management, EMI Japan, NH Media, Nega Network, YG Entertainment, Woollim Entertainment, Pledis Entertainment, SM Entertainment)