140303_seoulbeats_SNSD_tiffanyAnd they do so with actual medicine that is potentially harmful.

SNSD or Girls’ Generation is an idol group that needs no introduction. Hailing from SM Entertainment, they are the top girl group in South Korea with hits such as their debut single “Into the New World,” “Kissing You,” the infectious and monumental “Gee,” “Genie (Tell Me Your Wish),” “Oh!,” “The Boys” and the polarizing “I Got a Boy.” As Shojo Jidai, they have crossed over to the J-Pop market with ease and popularity. Their debut Japanese album is currently the highest selling album by a Korean group. The group has won practically every award they are qualified for, including an award in the inaugural YouTube Music Video Award beating more known Western artists. The members have branched out, be it acting, radio, musicals, sub-units (TaeTiSeo) or variety shows. They are one of the highest selling girl groups in the world.

With their newest Korean release, one question that always popped up: what would SNSD bring to the table this time?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8j_XEn9b_8]

Let’s be honest, “Mr. Mr.” as a song is not as exciting or extreme as “I Got a Boy” with it’s six-or-so different transitions. Not only is the song straightforward, as is the music video. But here is where the initial confusion sets in. At first watch, the music video is incomprehensible.

140303_seoulbeats_SNSD_yuriWhy is the guy getting surgery? What the hell did you guys do to him? What’s that blue liquid thing? Are you guys certified for this? What are you guys doing in SM’s car park? Is that the proverbial dungeon of SM Entertainment? Why is that guy dancing wildly by the car at the end of the chorus? Sunny, why are you holding that candle? Why is Yuri being seductive on the floor holding that pink bejeweled thing? Is that sanitary? She’s the reason the guy dies right – infecting whatever it is that’s wrong with him? Wait. Is that a pink, bedazzled HEART? But seriously, what did you guys do to him? Poor guy is passed out while he’s getting possibly the best hospital care and attention in Korea. Where can I sign up for SM Hospital and can SHINee be my nurses?

Admit it. We were all confused.

And then you watch the MV with English translation and everything makes sense. In the first verse, the girls ask the guy to take initiative, that she has given out all the hints and all that is needed is for him to put his nervousness aside and make a move already. Specifically, they ask “What are you waiting for” and warn that “If you keep measuring things out, it’ll be too late.”

140303_seoulbeats_SNSD_sunnyWhich leads me to the conclusion that the hospital scene with it’s shiny and sparkly organs is SNSD’s attempt to fix the guy. They are figuratively and literally fixing the guy’s heart, so that their “Mr. Mr.” would finally take the lead.

This also explains why there is a bedazzled heart because if you’re going to have a vital organ in an MV, might as well make it eye-catching. That and it underlines that they aren’t actually fixing a heart problem but rather a “heart problem” – all with the use of a medicine that is to be used with care if you have a heart problem.

The medicine is calcium chloride, the only thing labeled in the hospital and scene held up in 1:59. This potentially explains why the girls go from healing him, to him dying, to him getting up. When this drug is injected via IV, one has to be careful if you have a heart problem. Of course, in this MV, this problem is figurative. Because the male has a heart problem, the drug injection is too much and is why he seemingly dies. This is also where the question about Sunny and the candle is answered. It represents that the girls held onto his life, one wrong move and he could die. And when he seemingly did, that was when we saw a shot of a candle being blown out at 3:01.

We later see that he actually wakes up in the abandoned room, so not all is lost on you SNSD!

140303_seoulbeats_SNSD_taeyeonThat was the macro side of the MV. Let’s go into the micro and look at the specific elements. It was quite obvious after watching the MV once that it has many flaws. There are too many closeups – more than usual for an SM MV and it became uncomfortable to watch. I wish there were more dance scenes but at the same time, not the ones we saw. It was during these dance shots that it became glaringly obvious that the good folks in SM Entertainment truly did lose a good portion of their data – and it was all dance scenes.

The car park scene had absolutely no connection at all – the clothes and the atmosphere did not fit in with the other two dance scenes and the overall product. It was a dash of black and white in a multicolored music video. The girls looked tired and lethargic during the dance scenes. As such, the dance looked choppy and uninspired. What facial range we got from the dance scenes looked forced.

It’s a pity because there were some moments that looked promising in the dance scenes – from adjusting the cufflinks to the addition of the male dancers, a first for a title track. I imagine that if we had gotten the first takes and not the reshoots, everything would’ve looked polished, elegant and classy. We get brief views of these elements in the dance, a dance that plays more into the subtle tones of the melody rather than the more explosive, hard-hitting synth.

As with all SNSD MVs, they are all fashionable. The pink motif during the hospital scene could’ve easily gone cheesy or gaudy, but they didn’t thanks to the editing team. Everything looked classy and the splashes of pink and blue brought about a spark in what could have been a boring looking hospital emergency room. Their take on the nurse and surgeon outfits were all well done, an interesting take on an otherwise boring outfit without playing into the sexualized version of a nurse, and the outfits fitted each member perfectly. The same could be said during their red carpet dresses at 3:08.

140303_seoulbeats_SNSDWhat really stood out was the gentleman motif during their two more prominent dance scenes – the well-tailored suits that highlighted their feminine forms without being sexual, and their really pretty dresses in their final scene in the blue box with a chandelier, a outfit reminiscent of their “Paparazzi” era tuxes. I really hope that in the live stages, they wear more gentleman motif clothes, just to tie in with the theme of their dance.

While on first watch, the MV might come off as bland and boring unless you are a fan. But when one pays attention and has knowledge of the lyrics and have Google open for a quick search on calcium chloride, everything makes sense and the pieces of this MV comes together. The first impression is “Another MV in the box, SM?” and later becomes “Kudos, SM,” all because this MV is a rather elaborate puzzle. Their creative team stepped up its game with “Mr. Mr.” If only the data had not been corrupted, this could have been a better MV. Most of the flaws could have actually been the strengths in the original cuts. The lackadaisical dancing and apathetic facial expressions we see in the final product could have been different in the original cut.

A pity because this MV had the possibility of more.

There is a downside to such an elaborate and subtle story line and that is no one really wants to spend time digesting an MV with such trite lyrics. Subtlety may be key, but for MVs? It would be better if there was a candid and direct scene or two for those who don’t necessarily want to look into the complexities of symbolism. As it was, the MV was almost like an Easter Egg Hunt.


(SM Entertainment, YouTube)