Love them or hate them, Teen Top, flagship group of Shinhwa member Andy‘s Top Media, have always had interesting MVs. “Missing,” the title track for the group’s 5th EP Éxito, is no different in this regard. The group returns with a MV and a performance with more than initially meets the eye; but one aspect provides better results than the other.
Warning: mentions of self-harm and suicide follow.
Shot during Teen Top’s last tour, the MV makes use of various dilapidated settings to tell this tale of dysfunction. The rapid cut-away shots create a disorienting feel, but they are also just long enough to set the scene. At first, it seems like a straightforward tale of boyfriend C.A.P cheating on girlfriend Lee Ho-jung, causing her to run into the arms of third-wheel L.Joe; however, there are details in the MV which bring more to the story.
At the heart of the story is the question “why?” As in: why does C.A.P stray in the first place? There are multiple interpretations, including a very plausible one involving terminal illness. But, I feel that it is ultimately brought on by depression, or causes it. Either C.A.P was under considerable mental pressure, for whatever reason, and made a poor decision, the guilt of which haunts him; or, he purposefully lets Ho-jung discover him cheating as a way to punish himself for whatever wrong he believes himself to have done — like having a terminal illness, for example. This would be his way of driving away someone he loves as punishment for not being able to be there for them.
Whichever way it began, C.A.P lets himself be punished, first by remaining silent and pliant to Ho-jung’s frustrations and then by staying away from her. He is shown outside her door at one point, roses in hand but unable to go inside. It’s as though he feels he isn’t worthy of forgiveness and thus remains out of touch. This leaves L.Joe to find and comfort Ho-jung as best he can; by this point, it seems clear that C.A.P is not in contact with anyone else or with the other Teen Top members shown searching the streets and knocking on doors. This would also explain L.Joe’s own anguish.
The scenes with him and Ho-jung feel slower than the first half of the story, and the acting, while sufficient, isn’t enough to elevate these parts. The scene where L.Joe finds Ho-jung under her bed is the one where I find the most fault: The shot of her leg sticking out from under the bed superbly foreshadows the ending of the MV, but when L.Joe reaches out to her… You can tell that it is meant to be a powerful visual, his hand stretching towards the audience, but it doesn’t match the overall style of the MV, making it stick out like a sore thumb. The intended impact is lost by the overwrought execution.
Continuing on, though C.A.P increasingly personifies the lyrics — specifically the rap portions –, his struggle with separation becomes more and more apparent until, eventually, he falls limp. There is a bottle of pills seen in the MV, which could either be a sign of accepting death through lethal dosage or rejecting life by refusing medication. Either way, C.A.P comes to illustrate the death of the relationship through his own demise. L.Joe, meanwhile, represents the vocalists’ lines, wanting to protect and cherish the girl, and find comfort in her as Ho-jung does with L.Joe in the end.
As much of a downer as the story may be, it is, for the most part, executed beautifully. Unfortunately, the performance portion of the MV cannot say the same.
Don’t get me wrong: the ginormous set has a lack of colour which sets it apart from the rest of the hue-saturated MV but also fits in stylistically, and different parts of it are used as well, but when you get to what Teen Top is doing inside said set, things become more complicated than necessary. We have three chairs, and they are great: the choreography uses them well, and it doesn’t hurt that Changjo, who starts the first verse, looks good performing that chair choreography. Like, really good. The rest of the group looks good, too — one of the best things about this MV is how damn good these boys look — but Changjo, he makes a great first impression in this MV.
But if only Top Media had stopped with the chairs. As much as a I want to write more about
Changjo Teen Top working those chairs and how hot they looked doing it, I kept getting distracted by a certain mic stand — Niel’s mic stand. No-one else was touching that thing, it was Niel’s and Niel’s alone. And if that wasn’t perplexing enough, there was also a snap-back which spent most of the song on aforementioned mic stand before being worn by Niel… For, like, a second.
What, oh what, was the purpose of all these extra props? Was this Top Media’s solution to fulfilling product placement requirements? Was the company attempting to save money by running a Niel solo promotion and a Teen Top comeback on the same stage? Look, if you want to give Niel a solo release, just give him the solo release already. Stop messing with the group and ruining the nice thing they had going on with this choreography. “Missing” is a solid single from Teen Top, with strong yet understated performances from the members, and deserves better than this.
Watching this MV has breathed new life into the saying “Less is More,” for both the right and wrong reasons. The shooting style of the MV brings us the emotion of the story without lingering too long and ruining its impact; but the performance seeks to do too much and clutters the stage. Overall, I’m giving Teen Top’s “Missing” 3.25 out of 5. What do you think of the MV, readers?
(Livejournal, Top Media)