20140729_seoulbeats_jyj2It has been about three years since JYJ’s last album. The group has since ended their very public legal battle with SM Entertainment, performed in various musicals, acted in dramas, did solo music works, etc. This time around Junsu, Yoochun, and Jaejoong have returned with their album Just Us which boasts a thirteen song tracklist. The members have penned most of the lyrics and tackle some production on a few tracks as well. Their title track “Back Seat” is a mid tempo rhythm and blues song that has an automobile-centric MV to boot. Since its release, “Back Seat” has been performing well on the charts. Kim Tae-won, Dong Ne-hyeong, Won Yeong-heon produced the song and also wrote the lyrics.

This MV has three prominent types of scenes – individual shots of each member, dancing cuts, and scenes of the members cuddling up to a female in the back seat of their cars. Not the most innovative material, but the song does not necessitate a crazy plot or anything of the sort.

If there is a standard element in idol music videos, it would be the reliance on individual shots. This MV does not deviate from that trope, doling out three different settings all decked out with classic cars for each member. Yoochun is nestled above a hotel in Las Vegas, Jaejooing is perched in the rear of a convertible in the middle of a construction site, and Junsu is in the middle of a glowing triangular neon set.

I suppose each set could possibly represent some form of attraction. This could be the dangerous thrill (construction site set), excessive wealth (Las Vegas rooftop set), or ethereal experience (neon set). In a subliminal way, each set invokes these traits. Jaejoong relaxes in a rough terrain with danger signs near the edges of the frames hinting at an adventurous appeal. Yoochun’s expensive looking rooftop extravagance speaks to the more opulent allure (towering at the heights of the illuminated Vegas strip is surely a grandeur sight). Also, Junsu’s colorful set is divorced of a temporal space — making it ostentatious in a mystifying type of way.

20140729_seoulbeats_jyj2_kissBarring my misinterpretation of the symbolic representations of the settings, these scenes were nicely shot. The scenes shot at the rear of the vehicle with the female actress did feel a bit sloppy. The numerous quick cuts depicting a sense of intimacy by showing their degree of closeness do not really contribute much. Did they kiss? Why is are they touching each other? This play on angst-ridden clandestine romance seem to place JYJ on the border of teenage crush instead of displaying the mature aspects of the three men. These guys are now in their late twenties, so perhaps they might be allowed to showcase a kiss without cutting up the camera cutting away before anything happens – or are they just destined to wade in the predetermined idol idle degree of expression (disallowed from the average pedestrian’s touch).

The dance scenes were well executed. It was fairly typical, but there were also a few odd angled shots that gave the video a grittier perspective (such as the lower right view of Jaejoong while he had his hand in the air). The dance itself is sensual and suggestive with body rolls and a few crotch pops. It complements the tone of the song and is nuanced enough to stay interesting. My favorite dance scene was actually the piped structure that they danced in. The lighting was cued to the music, and it gave the dance an epic stage to highlight the song with.

20140729_seoulbeats_jyj_jaejoongThe song itself was a mixed bag for me. I am not a fan of the intro & outro from Yoochun as it detracts from the flow of the rest of the song. As an R&B number, the English banter seemed unnecessary – also something I dislike with most songs that have a whispering or talking intro. However, the sonic elements make “Back Seat” a grower. It stays on a pleasant upward trajectory with the elements all coming together at the end. The climax of the song escalates the music into a wall of sound that works well with immersing the listener — captivating them with the group’s impressive vocals.

I also find the lyrics to be questionable. They are meant to be seductive with the guys coaxing the lady into their back seat, but to me they seem a bit predatory and shallow.

“Let your feelings go,

You don’t have to be fight.

Don’t be shy.”

If the lady is afraid or instinctively against any action, then maybe the guys should honor their wishes of not wanting to be in the back seat. The lyrics are a mating call, but it is insensitive to the female’s autonomy. The nature of the song is alluring, but the translated lyrics leave much to be desired. Can’t the song present seductive lyrics without it becoming a story where the male forcibly coaxes a female to submission?

Overall, the song and music video were both an underwhelming affair for me. I appreciate the production quality of the song and MV. The individual shots and dance were pristine and clear. However, the lyrical content and intro + outro of the song were distracting. The video does not try to be innovative, but it does well in the standard dance scenes and in the three solo settings. JYJ have definitely done better MVs in the past, and the lyrics – not written by them – are a disappointment for a decent R&B song.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

(C-JES Entertainment, YouTube [1], DongA, Lyrics via Colorcodedlyrics)