Following their four-year military-induced hiatus, Nell have done a great job reacquainting themselves with the general public, and especially the international K-pop fandom. Following their first post-hiatus album, Slip Away (and the best music video of 2012), Nell embarked on their Gravity trilogy of albums. And now they reach its conclusion with new album Newton’s Apple. The accompanying single is “Four Times Around the Sun,” which provides an interesting conclusion to the themes explored in the first and second MVs accompanying the trilogy, “White Night” and “Ocean of Light.”
Of the two prior MVs, “Four Times…” is more closely linked to the latter. The styling is eerily similar in a lot of ways, and sometimes purposefully so: the little spaces the band members are in echo the appearance of the rooms seen in “Ocean of Light.” Another similarity is in the splitting of scenes into a “before” and “after,” with the dividing event being the eruption of glittery, golden confetti from the protagonist’s chest. But even with these common points, the MV for “Four Times…” still stands out on its own.
The settings in the MV reflect the theme of loneliness running through the song’s lyrics. The buildings aren’t real and they are often disproportionately small, so as to emphasise the disconnect between the man’s misery and the rest of the universe. The world seems so insignificant compared to the pain he feels over his last love.
We see him clutching his heart in the “before” scenes in desolate locations: a cold and dark outside a cafe; on one side of a crossing, with nothing on the other side; and inside a tent, opposite an empty mat. While from the outside, the man appears to be (literally) larger than life, inside the tent his form is almost overwhelmed by the expanse of canvas — his misery is bigger than everything, including himself.
But, just as the pain and misery become too much, the man’s heart apparently bursts and the confetti streams out. This event is presented as being euphoric: the whole world revels as the man’s memories spring back to life. Back in the tent, his former love reappears and everything is wonderful again … until she disappears, her form bursting into a shower of confetti.
The MV gives the appearance of closure, but this is not seen in the lyrics. The words remain mournful right to the end:
While the earth went four times around the sun
I thought about this
Even after a long time passes and the earth goes ten times around the sun
Seeing myself still missing you
Why did you have to do this?
Why did you have to leave me?
Considering the lyrics and song title leads me to believe that what we are seeing is not a one-off occurrence, but just another repetition of something the man has been doing for the past four years. He’s laid the relationship to rest in his heart; however, every now and then he’ll revive and relive memories of it. I initially thought the golden confetti to be the representation of the man’s memories, but in actuality they are the man himself — he is the form the memories take. The confetti instead represents the happiness from these memories. When the woman appears in the tent, that is when the memories feel the most real. Alas, they aren’t; and so she disappears, leaving behind only a feeling.
This feeling is all the man has left now, and so he enjoys it (like when he dances in the downfall of confetti) before once again laying the memories to rest in the morgue in his heart. And, of course, we know that this process will repeat itself all over again, sooner or later. This reliving of memories is something we all do, going through the pain it creates just to get to that feeling of happiness that makes it all worthwhile, even if it is temporary. Is it the most healthy thing to do? You could say yes or no, but you can’t argue that it isn’t normal.
“Four Times…” provides us with thoughtful use of symbolism with a vibrant aesthetic; and for that, I give it 3.75 out of 5.
Readers, what did you think of Nell’s “Four Times Around the Sun?” Did you read the MV in the same way, or do you have a different interpretation of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
(Popgasa, Woollim Label)