20150205_seoulbeats_teentop_niel_onlynielWith the influx of solos happening this year, it is interesting to hear idols explore styles or genres that differ from the music usually produced by their group.

It is a chance for fans to see another side of that idol and gain a better sense of this person’s musical tastes. No longer is this idol’s talent shielded behind other members, nor is this person required to share the spotlight in the interest of spreading the fan love evenly. Fans are finally given permission to obsess over the sole individual on stage sans guilt.

Too bad poor Niel is not able to obsess over his love interest guilt-free in his MV for “Lovekiller.” Teen Top‘s main vocalist finds the woman of his dreams, but alas, it would appear the feelings are not mutual between the two. The song and MV go hand in hand to illustrate the push-pull nature of their conflicting emotions.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwseCqPrN4I?rel=0]

From the beginning, we know things are bad for Niel as he agonizes over past memories. He thinks about all of the anniversaries and birthdays spent together and how happy they seemed to be. Unfortunately, it appears his girlfriend has L. Joe on her mind as one flashback reveals his name on her phone’s caller ID. Scenes of her ignoring Niel’s calls suggest that she is cheating on him with his group mate. The song unveils the murkiness of the situation as Niel confesses to knowing she isn’t good for him, but acknowledging that he doesn’t care.

I know you are a lovekiller
But I’m still attracted to you
Your phone doesn’t answer
That bothers me (Bad my girl)
I know you are a lovekiller
But why do I still want you
I know now, I don’t care about your men
You will only look at me

The desperation of the lyrics leaves me with mixed emotions here. There are many of us who have experienced heartbreak in the form of a cheating lover. While some may forgive their lover for a single indiscretion, others share the sentiment that breaking up is the proper course of action. Niel goes for a third option: accepting his girlfriend’s cheating ways as long as she stays with him. He is so desperate to keep this woman that he is essentially willing to forgo his self-worth.

20150227_seoulbeats_teentop_niel_phoneSome of you may be thinking, so what? Well, let’s be fair in our assessment of concepts here. Imagine if it was a female singer saying all of this. It would be expected of me to say that it’s wrong to romanticize an unhealthy relationship for the sake of a song that is just entertainment.

There would be comments of how twisted it is for a woman to promote the idea of allowing her lover to openly cheat and treat her badly while she obsessively pines for him anyway. It would be seen as further glorification of male prowess in the face of female degradation under the guise of her being a steadfast girlfriend who puts up with all kinds of crap — including cheating. Should it be less upsetting because the genders are reversed? The song is vexing if you think about it from that angle. Niel can obviously do better, so he shouldn’t be singing about settling for a lover who only values him as an option, rather than a priority.

20150227_seoulbeats_teentop_niel_mjThrowing aside the sketchy lyrics, let’s talk about the visuals. Niel clearly loves Michael Jackson and that influence is seen in just about everything. The choreography and outfits both echo an homage to the gloved wonder, which may put off hardcore Michael fans or anyone who wishes K-pop idols would find inspiration in other K-pop seniors for once.

As a fan of both Niel and Michael, it amused me, but it also went a bit overboard at times. It’s hard to pinpoint how much of this MV was Niel’s style and how much was Michael’s. The point of a solo is to showcase more of one’s own style and personality, so paying homage to a huge pop star diminishes the unique qualities a singer may possess.

Despite that, no one can argue that Niel’s talents don’t shine here — especially under an abundance of lighted marquees for the dance sequences. Given the high energy of the beat, I appreciate seeing the visuals match it. The over-saturated hues pop out in bold colors of crimson, cobalt and gold. Signs flashing phrases and words like “Love Killer,” or the title of his album oNiely, do a great job of branding which is essential in a promotion. It may look like a circus gone crazy, but it does grab your attention.

20150227_seoulbeats_teentop_niel_marqueeSomething else that grabbed my attention was how similar it felt to Teen Top’s “Missing” video. One wonders if the director purposely chose the setting and design to match the feel of that one. This MV could’ve been the prequel to “Missing,” especially with the L. Joe connection. It also doesn’t hurt that both “Missing” and “Lovekiller” had the same composer, making even the sound of the songs similar. Reiterating the point made earlier, it’s difficult to focus on Niel as a soloist when he’s given material so strongly reminiscent of his group or another singer. Nothing stands out as being uniquely Niel here, but that doesn’t mean he is bland; he just needs something that makes him pop out as much as those marquees.

It appears that Niel not only settled for a cheating girlfriend, but an equally frivolous video. For all of the glitz and glamour involved, it feels like he vanished underneath the flashy visuals. The MJ-centric choreography and Teen Top-lite song did little to introduce us to a side of Niel not seen before. His Immortal Song performances revealed his innate ability to dance and sing powerfully, so this was somewhat of a let down. Overall, “Lovekiller” is memorable for its ability to remind you of anyone but Niel himself.

Song rating: 3/5

MV rating: 3.5/5

What are your feelings on this MV? Do you think another song would’ve been better?

(YouTube [1][2], Images via Top Media)