What a year 2015 has been for K-pop.
Along with hundreds of wet-behind-the-ears idols making their debuts, a slew of veteran acts have returned to the scene to show us all that K-pop is not just for the super young. As a newer fan of K-pop, I tend to let myself get wrapped up in the debuts and the rookie groups who flood the scene, but it’s hard to deny that some of the older stars are bringing a new dimension to K-pop this year with mature music and killer concepts. Brown Eyed Girls, for example, is one of the girl groups that undeniably helped to make K-pop what it is today, but haven’t been active as a group since 2013. Busy with solo projects and contract negotiations, the ladies of Brown Eyed Girls– JeA, Narsha, Miryo, and Ga-in— have finally found the time to bless us with new music and it just goes to show that sometimes the wait is worth it.
Even if, like me, you weren’t aware that you were waiting for something.
“Brave New World”, from the group’s sixth album, BASIC, is a dance track with a heavy disco influence on the surface. The opening bars are suspiciously close to a popular dance song from the early ’80s, in fact. But then some elements of funk are thrown in, along with slightly psychedelic lyrics and a great hook in the chorus, and the song takes off.
“Brave New World” seems to be about a long-lasting, life-changing love, but then again, the lyrics are very vague and metaphorical:
Ground in which the time has been bent somewhere Is it dizzy
The blue-colored scream is brown like my eyes Is it just my imagination
Everything I have known is tangled beautifully
Something beautiful is tangled as you and me always are
Maturity undoubtedly lends a greater weight to the subject matter. BEG isn’t bringing a simplistic concept or singing about puppy love. These are women who have no problem being provocative but still thoughtful about what they’re trying to say. They’re K-pop stars, but they’re also adults. Similar to the efforts by BoA, Wonder Girls and Big Bang this year, Brown Eyed Girls have the life experience to back up what they’re singing about. It adds layers to the music for the listener.
Now, truthfully, none of that would probably matter if the music was bad, but “Brave New World” is a good pop song. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its faults. Miryo’s rap break is a slightly clunky and her flow is a little old-school, but it doesn’t take away from the song too much. Overall, “Brave New World” is musically engaging, the lyrics are interesting and the vocals sound great. Also, while listening, it’s extremely difficult not to want to get up and move. So, as an upbeat dance song, it does its job.
Thankfully, the visuals and concept of the MV are just as enjoyable as the song.
Opening with a shot of the four members walking toward a sleek black car, the MV takes a wonderfully strange route from there. A bright red apple, long seen as a symbol of poisoned innocence (and a symbol used by Ga-in earlier this year in her sexy “Apple” MV) makes an appearance as the gateway to another world. The members get plugged into the apple and let the music launch them into another dimension. There’s not much otherwise in terms of plot, but the choreography, cinematography and costumes are top-notch.
The MV employs some sci-fi imagery, as well as some other symbols like octagonal shapes, prisms, and the color blue. The ladies end up in a Star Trek-like alien planet land of dry grass and desert, with metallic-clad dancers and large cornucopia shells that act as their gateway between dimensions. The color blue, often seen as a cool, serene color, plays a big role. But here it’s not a tame shade, it’s a bright electric blue that draws attention to itself. Pink and green are also used to great effect, especially in the scene set in the grassy field. Ga-in and Narsha dance in the middle of brightly painted circles in the field. The colors are loud and stimulating and the contrast with the washed-out backdrop of the dried grass is lovely.
The ladies ooze sexuality throughout, from their dance moves to their demeanor. In one scene, Ga-in is clad only in sparkly rainbow paint while she sits in her octagonal cornucopia. The cornucopia isn’t exactly a subtle symbol and the rest of the imagery isn’t either. The girls are not coquettish and passive–they are brazen, but it’s never over the top or forced. They’re clad in disco-appropriate hot pants and mid-riff baring sweaters for some scenes, but also dressed in furry coats and long sweaters in other scenes. The choreography is definitely sensual as well, but the MV is not merely about pushing sex. There seems to be a theme of enlightenment in the lyrics and imagery, implying that a woman taking control of her sexuality is the gateway to a higher plane of existence.
If I had one complaint, it would be that the MV does feel oddly static at times, for such a fast-paced track. The editing was to blame, I guess. For example, sometimes the director chooses to keep the shots longer, especially in the scene right before they ‘zap’ into the new world. The camera lingers on the ladies as they sit in the the car, which slowed the momentum of the MV slightly. However, the Girls look lovely in their beauty shots and this is a small, nit-picky complaint because, otherwise, the MV is pretty great.
Ultimately, I liked pretty much everything about Brown Eyed Girls’ “Brave New World”. It was just cool, really.
MV: 4.5/5[Youtube, Photos via Nega Network, Mystic Entertainment]