B1A4 has always been a group that maintains a unique identity no matter what concept they commit to, be it bouncy dance tracks or solemn ballads. Therefore, it seemed only natural that this latest comeback would have that signature B1A4 flair, something to complement the vibrant personalities and diverse talents of the members themselves. However, what resulted was a song and accompanying video that is unoriginal, unmemorable, and may leave hardcore fans feeling underwhelmed.
This release was billed as a sort of follow-up to the group’s 2014 studio album Who am I. However, Jinyoung, who is the creative force behind most of the group’s music and the composer of this latest single, may have taken this association too far. “A Lie” ends up sounding like nothing more than a slightly faster-paced version of the single “Lonely,” complete with identical vocal samples and an eerily similar chorus. There is nothing wrong with paying homage to past work, just as groups such as CNBlue and Mamamoo have done with some of their most recent releases, but there is a difference between referencing and recycling, a distinction not made with this latest single and MV.
The first thing that strikes the viewer is the alarmingly uneven pacing of the video. The first minute or so would lead you to believe that the story is building up to a sweet (if not overplayed) love story between Jinyoung and the lead actress. All of a sudden, though, the camera begins to cut to other members, who are all seemingly in relationships with the same girl. As a side note, this video trope has always been vaguely disturbing in its implications of mass infidelity. Beyond that, though, allotting Jinyoung such a big chunk of uninterrupted time at the beginning and then switching to fast cuts of the rest of the group makes it so that no clear story is ever developed and the viewer is left scrambling to follow the love line in any given scene.
In another odd pacing twist, after the leader’s acting in the beginning, he doesn’t make an appearance again until the last seconds of the video. In the end, this patchwork execution eliminates the possibility for any kind of emotional attachment and therefore lessens viewer enthusiasm.
In terms of content, the video inspires a profound sense of déjà vu, mimicking themes seen in countless videos over the years. A couple hangs out on a balcony while wearing perfectly grungy clothes and pointing at unknown things in the distance. They frolic through grassy fields and along the inexplicably abandoned shoreline, holding no conversations and yet finding everything amusing enough to induce laughter. Date night involves hanging out in abandoned houses and dancing on top of trailers because nothing could be more romantic and edgy. In the end, the girl leaves for reasons unknown and provides an opportunity for the boy to make forlorn eye contact with the camera before the screen fades to black. These tired tropes can be found in all kinds of MVs, from Big Bang’s “Let’s Not Fall In Love” to VIXX’s “Eternity,” making “A Lie” the latest addition to the sad boy video directory.
Sometimes, even if a video lacks proper plot, the aesthetic is enough to save it, but while the indie aesthetic is always nice, it wasn’t enough to distract from the bigger problems. Though the design was wholly uninspiring, the video did admittedly have aspects that could have been explored further to create a more interesting visual experience. A couple of times, the video flashes to rapid cuts of still photos presumably taken by the couple themselves, but oddly enough, only with Baro and Sandeul. While this editing technique certainly wasn’t invented yesterday, it feels far more novel and engaging than more slow motion shots of running and hugging. The color palette was also rather interesting, using pops of reds, blues, and greens to break up the otherwise neutral frames and create highly saturated focal points.
Perhaps the underwhelming nature of this video is only emphasized by the fact that just a few months prior, Sandeul released a similar yet vastly more artful video. The MV for Sandeul’s solo single “Stay As You Are” is another quirky love story with a bittersweet ending, but not only is the design of the piece much more carefully crafted, the plot was able to create a full arc to tell the story of a charming 24-hour romance that inevitably ends in parting. In fairness, the director only had to focus on one member, thus making the task infinitely easier. However, it may have been smarter for the group to move a completely opposite direction rather than face direct comparison with its own member.
This is not to say that this release is just awful. By all accounts, it is a solid song and a passable video. If executed by any other group, it might even be better received. But what makes “A Lie” disappointing is that fans have witnessed the musical growth of B1A4 since debut and therefore know that the group is capable of so much more. Though they likely need time to write an album and craft a concept, it would be great to see B1A4 make another comeback in the near future, one that might redeem this minor setback and reclaim their identity.
MV Rating: 2/5
(Images via WM Entertainment)