Standing Egg, one of the better known Korean indie artists, returned on May 7 with mini-album 36.5 and lead single “Yes, You.” Known for their youthful, restrained sound, Standing Egg often straddle the industry divide between K-pop and indie, with some releases leaning more towards a pop sound and others moving definitively away.
As background on this mysterious band, the three composers and music producers of Standing Egg humorously call themselves Egg 1, Egg 2, and Egg 3 and have not identified themselves by name, though Egg 2 allegedly runs the official Twitter account and Egg 1 can also be found on Twitter. In their work, Standing Egg feature new and recurring indie musicians and singers such as Clover (vocals and guitar), Hankyul (double bass), Hana (djembe), Windy (vocals),and Han So-hyeon (vocals) from 3rd Coast.
However, Standing Egg‘s low-key singles, MVs, minis and albums, often coincide with more high-profile news, resulting in their MVs often being skimmed over in favor of more popular K-pop releases. So if you are looking to fill your evening playlists with soothing tunes and simple MVs, join me in taking a look back at Standing Egg’s as of yet unrated MVs from the past year.
First up is their most recent release, “Yes, You.” This song is buoyantly happy and more radio-friendly than some of their earlier releases, reminiscent of Busker Busker‘s slower acoustic ballads. The MV is not afraid to indulge in the silliness that rises uncontrollably in the vicinity of one’s crush, overlaying cartoonish hearts, faces and opaque words onto the screen as the singer repeatedly professes that he “just like(s) you, girl.” The lyrics come from the point of view of a male wishing to confess to a female, and that is just about it for lyrical complexity, though the cute couple in the MV seamlessly depict the musical story. Of the four MVs in this article, this is my least favorite since the lyrics and visuals offer nothing but clichés, but it is still a light-hearted watch and friendly listen.
“Yes, You” MV Rating: 3.5/5
Moving back in time to October 14, 2013, Standing Egg released “Today of All Days,” a breakup ballad whose MV took me on a narrative journey pleasantly full of twists and turns. At first, a man is musing on his past relationship with an ex-girlfriend, pouring gasoline all over her as she sits outside on a wooden chair. While I had inevitable initial flashbacks to “Fxxk You,” the comparison was swiftly made irrelevant as the ex-girlfriend vanished from the chair when the man glanced back. In reality, he, the ex-boyfriend, is literally only burning the chair, but symbolically he is burning his own memories of her sitting in the chair and eviscerating their past relationship from his mind. Later on, he sees his ex-girlfriend arguing in a parking lot with her presumed boyfriend, but when he runs out to spy on their argument the “boyfriend”‘s face is shown to be his own face. He is actually reminiscing again, uncontrollably replaying their past relationship’s arguments in his head.
The lyrics cohesively help to make sense of the MV. They discuss the aftermath of a breakup and the immediate longing for closeness, despite the knowledge that “breaking up with each other is the best”:
Today, of all days, I keep drifting from you
It seems like tonight is longer than
It seems that at this point, breaking up with each other is the best
Today, of all days, I keep wanting to hold you
Can’t we even start again?
Anyway, if things start to hurt again
You know someone who can relieve the longing
I want to hold you
And so ends the song. I like that at the end of the MV, while a storybook ending would call for a tearful reconciliation and passionate kiss, instead the two former partners simply stare at one another with mixed emotions of hurt, anger and longing as the burning chair reappears on-set, leaving nothing about the future set in stone one way or the other. With my attention span used to the convenient 4-minutes-or-less K-pop MV, this one somehow managed to grab my interest and sustain it for the whole 6-minute span.
“Today of All Days” MV Rating: 5/5
Traveling a bit further back to October 3, 2013, “Once Again” could be the continuation of the ex-relationship in “Today of All Days,” if only they hadn’t come out in reverse chronological order. Two ex-partners want to see each other again, but in the aftermath of their relationship they feel detached and broken. The giant “standing egg” adds levity and humor to depictions of their solitude and heightens their lack of companionship, since each of them exists alone except for this inanimate egg that comes with them everywhere. The lyrics lament, “somehow, somehow, if we meet again/ ‘How are you?’ ‘You look good.’ Why wouldn’t they become the most common words?”
The slow cuts of shots marinate on-screen for a few seconds on average, a pacing that aligns well with the crisp snaps perpetuating the musical background. Han So-hyeon reaches high notes pleasantly with her light vibrato and slight breathiness. At the end, the two people find themselves overlooking the same cityscape over the same water, and they turn to face each other. Whether they speak and what they would say are questions left for us to answer.
“Once Again” MV Rating: 4/5
Last but not least, “Miss Flower” came out on July 3, 2013. On a perma-relaxed trip, the adorable couple in the MV visit many important locations in Korea, like Boseong county green tea fields, the Suncheon Bay garden expo, and the Yeosu ocean. They always pause to enjoy the flavors of the area they are in, sipping tea, basking in the ocean spray and listening to the sound of wind. Visual instructions are given to walk slowly, or “amble” along. The song is about tuning into the rhythm of the natural world and human companionship.
“Let’s walk a little slower. We will be able to see more things,” the melodic male voice sings. “Miss Flower” depicts taking pleasure in life through juicy small plums, makeshift flower rings, wading in tall grass, and light music. It is the perfect pick-me-up, refreshing as a clean inhale of forested air.
MV Rating: 4.5/5
I really enjoyed combing through these four MVs of the last year. The recurring visual nod to a literal “standing egg” in multiple MVs provides a fun tidbit for fans. For me, Standing Egg have a distinctly gentle sound and while I am not always in the mood for mellowness or reined-in acoustic cheer, their signature sound unquestionably suits their whimsical image. They show similar restraint plot-wise in never resolving the romantic tension at the end of MVs, strewing open threads of ambiguity galore.
Personally, I try to judge K-indie releases differently than K-pop releases, since the context of the industry they are each trying to succeed in differs in each case. This leads me to give certain criteria, such as innovative and evocative lyrics, greater weight when rating these MVs than I would with K-pop MVs, which serve an entirely different purpose. Let me know what you think in the comments, and please share your favorite past releases of the wonderful Standing Egg.