After a year-long break in 2014, Nine Muses hit the ground running in 2015 with the release of “Drama,” in January followed by “Hurt Locker” over the summer. For the last release of the year, the eight-member group is back with a new mini Lost and its lead single “Sleepless Night.”
The announcement that “Sleepless Night” was produced by Brave Brothers was met with mixed reactions; some anticipated a change-up in sound from the veteran group, while others were wary of Brave Brother’s declining hit-making power. For further build-up, Nine Muses released a series of simple, but tempting, teaser images of the members in sheer white lace outfits. The teaser images exuded to the classy sensuality that Nine Muses is known for before the MV teaser dropped and hinted towards a much darker concept than the original teasers suggested.
“Sleepless Night” in many ways met expectations, for better or worse. The MV lives up to the title of the track and follows through with the angst from the teaser; however, in its wake I’m left with more questions than answers.
The MV opens with member Minha downing several sleeping pills before the story of her “Sleepless Night” unfolds. However, instead of telling the story through exclusively Minha’s perspective, the narrative introduces the remaining members of Nine Muses as stand-ins during her memories of the relationships — or perhaps lovers — she longs for.
As Minha opens a series of symbolic memory boxes, a different member is shown encountering the same item in their own universe. Kyungri wears the same ring while lying in a bed with several men in sunglasses, Hyemi wears the same dress, Sojin stumbles in the shimmery shoes, so on and so forth. Each member is shown struggling with the emotional pain that the lyrics reference:
I didn’t know how precious you were
Do I have to say goodbye?
I am so empty, I can’t stop thinking about you
What’s somewhat unclear is if the members themselves represent Minha in her past relationships, or if they are her past relationships. This ambiguous theme is only further muddied in the final moments of the MV when Minha wakes up and finds Sojin asleep in her bed.
The MV maintains its mysterious vibe through what it decides to show and what it conceals, and there’s a constant tension between what we can almost see and what is hidden. This is no more apparent than in the cuts where members stand against a nearly transparent white screen, concealing half of themselves while allowing the closest parts of their bodies to be seen. Everything is very teasing — like the slow unzipping of the back of their dresses — which only piques the viewers curiosity as to what the MV is getting at.
Though I love the play between black and white — both in the costumes and the sets — my main gripe with the video is the lighting. The dark scenes are sometimes too dark and obscured to tell what is going on. Similarly, the completely white set with the group and a piano is so washed out that I could barely make out which member the camera was focusing on. The light meter exists for a reason, and I think the filming crew should have given it a little more consideration.
While the MV provokes me to think about it long after my first viewing, the song fails to have the same effect. “Sleepless Night” has a hypnotic feeling, beginning with the ticking of a clock that soon transitions into a steady beat that maintains for most of the track. The melody follows a similar rhythm and consistency — so much so that it actually took me more than one listen to pin down which part of the track was the chorus.
The melody is filled with a pleasant sensuality, but unfortunately, the high, breathy vocals are slightly overpowered by the backing track and base line. Everything is almost too hypnotic and steady that the track lacks dynamics.
That being said, “Sleepless Night” does succeed in pulling the listener in and building momentum through Erin‘s rap break and the second chorus… only to let everything drop in an instrumental break that extends slightly too long — even if the break is meant to give attention to the choreography. By the time the track concludes, I can’t quite remember where it started; which does tempt a second listen, but not necessarily for the right reasons.
It’s so easy to say that Nine Muses excel visually, but that summary sells the group short. They’re eight hard-working, talented women who have been through very public struggles to earn their group a name in the over saturated world of K-pop. They’ve been at it for five years now, and their talents beyond the visual deserve a chance in the spotlight. Unfortunately, I don’t think “Sleepless Night” is the track that will give them that spotlight they sorely deserve.
Regardless, it’s a decent release, especially in terms of aesthetics. The choreography is simple, but works well for the group, the vocals and visuals are both also on point. It’s a release that fans can be satisfied with, especially since the MV and track pulled different members to the center. Similarly, “Sleepless Night” is a nice, dramatic change of pace from summer’s “Hurt Locker” and shows yet another side of the group. Perhaps though, Nine Muses should stay away from Brave Brothers for future tracks.
Readers, what’s your interpretation of the MV? Do you like the switch to Brave Brothers?
(YouTube. Images via Star Empire)