Monsta X has steadily been gaining a stronger foothold within the K-pop industry since their debut and with each release, they getting more and more popular with the support of their fans. So, they’ve decided to say thank you to their fans with “Shine Forever”. It’s the final chapter of the X Clan and is a slower tempo song compared to their usual fare. Monsta X favors aggressive beats and synths, and their music is often in-your-face and demands to be heard, so it’s nice to see them do a slower song. The structure of the song seems to echo off of “All In” through its construction.

“Shine Forever” is meant to be a gift from Monsta X to the fans that have joined them on their journey as musicians. The song strikes a more emotional, contemplative tone, but Monsta X still uses their tried and true style of interlaced synths and beats. It borders on noisy considering how much mixing there is, along with the rather aggressive singing. There really isn’t a moment where the melody gets a chance just to breath and just be. Jooheon and I.M try to balance this out with their clean one-two punch rapping, but it’s still a bit distracting: should the focus be on the video, or the song?

The shots are all very beautiful, and rely on the natural setting of Jeju Island. The shot of the ghostly grey fog surrounding Wonho as he kneels on a faded plain of grass, alone and lost, is such a visually compelling shot. It’s almost like the viewer can feel the damp weight of the fog on their own shoulders. There’s Shownu, hidden within the beautifully eroded rock caves, all mystery and gravitas, and Hyungwon sitting against the white wall, his shadow stark and his face soft. Each of the members have their own shots in the own environments, and it’s all very beautiful. The colors are soft, slightly faded, but still saturated and clean.

But while it’s beautiful, there also seems to be a lacking theme at first. The shots are interlaced together without much purpose of storytelling, yet there are complex shots of a car crash, in-group fighting, crying, and some of the members being injured. There isn’t any apparent relation between each of the clips. Finally, it all culminates at the end with the members surrounded in a circle by a number of glowing sticks. It’s confusing: between these aesthetically pleasing shots of the members, what are these shots? It looks like they’re supposed to tell a story, or maybe they are just nonsensical shots that are only meant to look cool? While the answer is not clear at first, the overall themes of gratitude and love slowly begin to reveal themselves.

The song and video are meant to convey how important the fans are to Monsta X. The song talks about being lost in the darkness, alone and uncertain, and then having this ray of light that just changes everything. The beginning of the song starts off with the lyrics:

You are next to me, there’s nothing that shines brighter than you
I’m wandering right now, like a lost child…
I’m fascinated by the bright light of your beauty,
I’m bringing you inside, into my once dark days
You color me into bright white

Monsta X are those lost children, and their fans are that bright light.

The opening shot is of Monsta X in the car: they’re not facing each other, they’re not speaking to each other. There’s a sort of tension there, riddled with exhaustion. Then Hyungwon is seen blindfolding Show-nu, who stumbles around the inside of a camping car, clearly frustrated. There’s a shot of a distraught Minhyuk pulling Show-nu out of a car wreck, his face covered in scratches. In his solo shots, he sits alone in the car, alone, face pressed against the steering wheel in anguish. Wonho sees him, but turns away and walks alone into the woods.

The shot changes again, showing a different time where Jooheon is starting to pick a fight with another member, while the others try to pull them apart and calm them down. Then, a blindfolded Shownu pulls Minhyuk to his side, and lets Minhyuk just dissolve into tears in his shoulder. At last, the  video hits one of the final scenes of the members standing in a circle, surrounded with brightly glowing sticks, flashing brightly like a blinking starburst.

It’s all a story about how the members have put in blood, sweat, and tears into their dreams. Shownu’s blindfold is symbolic of the members’ insecurities, self-doubts, and fears. The in-group fighting, started by Joo-heon, shows the darker edges of success: while they’ve been successful, Monsta X’s path wasn’t so linear.

There was always the lurking uncertainty of their actual debut and their popularity. It goes without saying that the uncertainty is sure to breed fear and resentment and surely, there have been moments in their career where they were upset with where they were: why weren’t they debuting yet, why did their lineup have to change while they were on NO.MERCY? Every career is full of moments like that, and with Monsta X, their line of work is so high risk. To not succeed for an idol is to have just wasted all those years. Min-hyuk’s crying is symbolic of their fear of not succeeding: with every mistake that they make on stage, in front of cameras and away from cameras, jeopardizes their future. It’s also a symbol of how each mistake makes them feel so terrible, for the fan’s sake, and for the sake of Monsta X.

On top of that, each of the members solo shots have them wandering in nature, lost and vulnerable: how difficult has it been to get to where they are? They chose to follow their dreams, but the road to success is often a lonely and sad one? It can be easy to lose sight of what made them work so hard to be a well-known group, or even why they chose to continue on this life that they’ve made.

But then finally, they’re brought together in that field, united and surrounded by light and ah, that’s why. The light is their fans, who have been with them through the best and worst times, through uncertainty and suffering. Their fans didn’t just shine the spotlight on them in terms of their career, they listened, connected, and loved their music. Monsta X may have many dark places that aren’t always obvious, but they always have their fans there to remind them they are there for them. They hear and care, even if they can’t understand everything. They’ll be supportive and show up to the concert and the fansigns. There are some fans out there who just like Monsta X’s music and there are some fans who have had their lives changed by Monsta X’s music. Each member of Monsta X’s life has been changed the fans.

Monsta X sent a really beautiful message to their fans, and even if it’s not a perfect video, the emotional weight behind it doesn’t let the viewer forget to whom the song and video are dedicated to. “Shine Forever” is for the fans who have been around since their debut, and for fans who have just recently joined. It’s a goodbye to the X Clan era, a love letter to their fans, and a herald to Monsta X’s future success.

MV Rating: 4.25/5

(Youtube. Images via Starship Entertainment.)