Voodoo dolls, cyborgs, Jekyll and Hyde, vampires and superheroes – it’s no wonder VIXX are called the concept kings. Since their debut, the six-membered group has always incorporated the concept into their dance, lyrics, wardrobe and makeup choices, and music video. For 2016, they decided to do something a little different from their usual releases, and perhaps their most ambitious: a year-long, three-parter concept revolving around the Greek gods Zelos, Hades, and Kratos.
While “Dynamite” was inspired by Zelos, the Greek god that embodies jealousy, “Fantasy” takes its cues from Hades. Hades is perhaps one of the more famous Greek gods, and is the God of the Underworld, which invites a plethora of connotations since it is one of the more vast regions according to Greek mythology. Even their recently held concert, where “Fantasy was first performed, was called Elysium, was named after the Elysium Fields, one of the realms of the afterlife in Greek mythology. According to VIXX, the concept of the music video is a mortal man (N) has lost his lover to someone in the Underworld (Leo) and wants to go into the realm to get her back.
And thus, this begs the question: did they achieve their intended vision? Choreography by Keone and Mari Madrid, yay or nay? How does the music video and lyrics tie into Hades, the Underworld, and everything associated to these two? Does it link back to “Dynamite?” How long until the main vocals strain their voices due to the chorus? Finally, is Ken the mastermind behind all this?
Pat: First off, I’d like to just say that the song itself gave me goosebumps when I first heard it. Because VIXX has such unique voices – you would never mistake Hyuk for Hongbin, for instance – the combination and the line distribution makes sense, and helps to increase the tension as the song goes on. The lyrics are always my favorite part of VIXX releases, and this one is no different. Thanks to the chorus, this may just become one of my favorite VIXX tracks lyrically, because I love the imagery it invokes.
It’s just a fantasy, pain sprouting like thorns
Like a night that lost its moon, an empty sign
Of course, I’m also partial to how Ken sings “My tragedy,” as if he really has lost everything and is in pain. That musical training is coming in handy.
As for the music video – someone else is going to have to take over because I don’t even know where to start. What about half-naked Wonshik (Ravi), that’s always a good place to start. But I’m Ravi trash and unrepentantly so.
Qing: I jumped on board the fandom circa the “Eternity” era, and absolutely loved “Error”. But the subsequent title tracks (I’m excluding “Love Equation“, which was a good break from the concept-heavy stuff) broke the momentum VIXX had been building starting from “On and On”. “Chained Up” was catchy but meh otherwise, and I liked the fresh sounds “Dynamite” brought but another group could have pulled it off.
Then “Fantasy” comes along, and though it bears little musical resemblance to their earlier hits, it’s undeniably VIXX. The classical elements—Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” that opens and closes the song, the choir scales building up to the chorus, the bells in the chorus—blended perfectly with the contemporary beats in the verses. The overall effect is dramatic and grand, and it pulls you right in and leaves you breathless by the end.
Although the concept revolves around Greek mythology, it’s fascinating to note that the MV made consistent use of Christian symbols and images. The crown of thorns is the most obvious one, but there’s also the dining table scenes with red wine that has echoes of The Last Supper, and the candles (in the forest close to the 1-minute mark, and on the dining table). Then there’s also the Eye of Providence tattoo that appears on Leo’s and N’s right hand. But it seems these images are removed from their religious context and used in a secular way, to express the suffering of heartbreak. Does anyone want to add on to this?
Throwing out some more questions: what do you guys make of the use of colors? Leo is the Hades figure and N is the hero of the story, but Leo is more often dressed in white and N in black. And how about the weird but fascinating sequences towards the end that suggest Leo and N may not be two separate people at all? They have the same tattoo on their right hand, and they are both pricked by thorns.
Lindsay: For me, this single is all about Leo and Hyuk. Leo’s voice is the first impression I was left with and he is the most visually striking for me when he has the long-ish black hair. Hyuk has been but at the forefront so much more as he and the group have matured, which I’m thankful for, and the MV does an excellent job of highlighting one of his best features — that epic jawline shown in profile.
I have to agree with Patricia and Qing that this song is more engaging than VIXX’s other recent releases. There’s something about it that taps into the unique VIXX sound that was being developed in the Hyde/Voodoo Doll era that got lost somewhere along the way. Maybe it’s the theatrical tones? It sounds both dramatic and modern, which is a good mix.
As for the MV, well, VIXX is known for their concepts. It’s difficult to tell who is supposed to represent what as both Hyuk and Leo appear in white as an influence on N. Hyuk is seen whispering in his ear and grabbing him as he walks toward the white door, where as Leo appears as a mirror to him in the white doorway and in the chair tied up — and perhaps most convincingly Leo and N both have a pricked finger at the end.
I see it as three “groups” of characters, Ken, Ravi, and Hongbin are a sect of their own (the alchemists seemingly) judging by their roles and costumes, where as Leo and Hyuk are a different sect symbolized by their white clothes and influence, and then N is a singular entity, somehow traversing this “world.”
Pat: That one scene of Hyuk and Hongbin whispering over N’s shoulders? I thought that was basically two devils egging N on, especially since Hyuk is part of the group that put on those masks at the end. But then, as you pointed out Lindsay, Hyuk also stops him from going through the door, which is somewhat perplexing. Also, Hyuk in the second chorus, killing the choreography and singing? Oh my God, yes!
And Qing, interesting that you bring up the Christian symbolism. While most, like the crown of thorns, is due to Jesus Christ having been alive during the Roman Empire (which, in turn, in heavily influenced by the Greeks), some are uniquely Christian – such as the last Leo scene that invokes the Last Supper. But also, in the same scene, Leo then wears black; maybe this is the point where he truly becomes Hades, if he is the Hades figure in the same way N was the Zelos figure.
Honestly, this music video is more confusing than the usual because the only constants seem to be Leo, N and Ken, while the rest seem to be vague. Heck, even Ken’s would be vague if not for the conception teaser.
Vya: I don’t follow VIXX much, but heard this song and had so many feels! I’ve held off on chiming in though until I could get more context on how this release fits in, so reading through the team’s responses really helped fill me in. I reacted mostly to the song, which I instantly liked – “Moonlight Sonata” was used beautifully to set the tone, and I loved the overall musical-esque feel, how they used percussion sounds to build tension and layered voices to give an ensemble effect.
My favorite parts were the dark, slower sections with spare instrumentals during the intro, verses and bridge interplayed with the drum line that kicked in during the pre-chorus and chorus. Ravi’s rap delivery was perfect, almost a snarl that really conveyed the desperation in the lyrics. My only criticism would be all the electronic sound effects (chimes and slides) and whispering that was layered in, which I found distracting. Overall though, this was a powerful song.
I was mostly confused by the MV honestly, but after re-watching it several times my interpretation is similar to Qing’s in that N and Leo are really two parts of the same whole, and that N lost/left a part of himself behind – he will never fully escape this tragedy. I also picked up on the religious imagery, from the “Last Supper” tableau to the crown of thorns. Still not sure how it all adds up, but it did make for a visually stunning MV.
Gaya: I love this song, it is pure drama with its orchestral inspiration. The chorus, though, barely passes muster vocally — it’s obvious the producers were trying for a fuller sound, but instead of using the entire group and maybe even getting some harmonies in there, they rely on Ken and Leo to carry the whole thing, and it’s evident that it’s not going to work. This isn’t a shortcoming of the singers, it’s a bad production choice. Outside of the chorus, though, I love the vocals — Leo shines, but all the members acquit themselves.
Plot-wise, I have no definite answers, but I feel like N corrupts Leo in the end? I get this undercurrent of wrath from N in this MV, with the clearest example being when he pushes Hyuk away. Death is a natural thing, but N’s inability — no, refusal — to accept that fact is where the darkness comes from, not from death itself. Ergo, I feel that N is the true evil here, and not Leo.
Qing: Like Gaya, I sensed an element of denial and evil in N, which could be crucial to reading the MV. The narrative of the MV and the lyrics have a degree of ambiguity which makes reaching a definite interpretation difficult, but here’s my take on it:
Going by the back story given, N is a mortal man journeying into the underworld to rescue his lover from Leo, the lord of the underworld. But it seems that Leo is part of N’s fantasy or delusion, a figure created by him so that he can externalise the blame for the loss of his lover.
Some of the clues I picked up on are the ones I mentioned earlier. Excluding the group dance scenes, Leo is mostly clothed in white and N in black, ironically associating the qualities of good/ innocence with the villain-figure and evil/ corruption with the hero. There’s also the strong suggestion that Leo is closely linked to, if not part of, N. This idea is introduced when they lie in a boat together, and it is reinforced in the montage that cuts together shots of them being pricked by the thorned bush and close-ups on the tattoo on their right hand.
A third clue is how N’s lover only appears briefly at the start, shrouded in mist and with her back to us. After just one more appearance, she drops out of the MV completely, suggesting that this supposed rescue mission is not central to the MV. The focus is not on an actual journey, but a psychological struggle to come to terms with why his lover has left. The lyrics—”I’ll give you my everything / So give yourself back to me”, “You need to have me”—hint that his lover does not return the possessive love he has for her and desperately desires from her. This struggle ends with N’s realisation as he vocalises the lines, “It’s all mine, it’s my fantasy”. The realisation of his denial and delusion is sealed by the final image of Leo, now dressed in full black, suggesting he acknowledges Leo to be part of him and his warped imagination.
It’s obvious that everyone has their own take on the music video – so what about you, readers? How’d you interpret the music video? Comment below!
(YouTube, Jellyfish Entertainment)