When N.Flying’s MV “The Real” opened on deck, in costume, I knew I was in for a treat. I knew pretty much nothing about N.Flying, wasn’t really specifically a fan of bands, but I saw potential. Theme or story? Check. Costumes? Check. Catchy guitar riff? Check. It was all aboard, and I was completely on board!
Let me open with my one criticism and get that out of the way: To the other members of N.Flying, good luck fighting Seung-hyub or Yoo Hoe-seung to wedge yourself into that camera frame! While vocalists are often the recognised faces of bands, it felt like there was an opportunity for Kwang-jin, Cha Hun, and Jae-hyun to be characterised further. After the long scenes with just the vocalists, for me, some of scenes with the rest of the group were a bit too little, too late.
But on to the positives, and there are many. First and foremost, I really enjoyed the visuals. The gorgeous ocean scenes look believable enough for the most part, and I loved that we saw both day and night scenes. The setting of the boat was consistent, and pleasingly, every set appeared to be a room on the ship. (Don’t think too hard about this, or you’ll realise “The Real” has clearly made use of some undetectable extension charms from Harry Potter. There is no way that tiny ship can hold that many rooms.) The important thing was, there was no awkward and jarring garage jam session scene while they were supposedly out on the ocean– this managed to occur on the boat. (Who was steering, anyway? The more I think about it, the more amusing it is that an MV with a magical self-steering mermaid-hunting boats is called “The Real”.)
Continuing on the theme of a visual feast was the costuming and props; with the boys outfitted for the most part in sailor outfits and striped clothing. It continued throughout the various scenes with magazines and dartboard references to fishing and mermaids. The part in the wheelhouse where N.Flying tipped from side to side was reflected in the follow-up scenes of chaotic staggering while the band played their instruments.
The track was strong, upbeat and catchy with solid, pleasing vocals. Singing in tandem with Seung-hyub, Hoe-seung was clearly a complimentary new addition to the band. I thought they had a really effective mix of varied strong notes, catchy lines for fans to chant, and nicely contrasted whispered lines. To a plebeian who knows nothing of musical theory (and can barely play the triangle), the sound was highly energetic and addictive. It wasn’t too repetitive, changing and evolving, but always remaining consistent. Unlike a lot of K-pop tracks which combine different sounds that don’t always blend smoothly, the transitions meshed well and felt natural. The rap section changed up the song, preventing it from becoming monotonous and the harmonising was done well.
One of the best things about this song was how simple and positive it was. We see so many relationship songs which talk about pain, mull over failure, deride women or make assumptions that the singer can take what they want, but not this track. It was nice to see a seemingly unproblematic song and the flattering yet relatively innocent lyrics made me want to cheer for the fictional relationship. I also liked that N.Flying could take a song about romance but make it more about the action, the members and their relationship– it was a bit new, a bit different, and very much appreciated.
Someone planned these lyrics with fans in mind; I know I for one have “Ding dong dang dong” stuck in my head. The pattern in the song, coupled with the iconic lines means fans will easily be able to sing, cheer and dance along to sections. I will definitely be memorising “진짜가 나타났다” (romanised as “jin jjaga nata natta”) which translates to “She’s a stunner” or “She’s the real deal”.
Overall, the positive, humorous feel of the MV was what really sold it to me. This MV was fun because it didn’t take itself too seriously, N.Flying perfectly acting their roles. We got to see the developing characters and emotion: the determination, frustration, awe, listlessness as the MV progressed. Regardless of the fact the MV is artificial, I felt like I got a sense of the members and their personalities, which I really enjoyed. The little in-jokes, such as “the boys are getting strange” and the ending revelation of the beautiful “mermaid” are amusing. High up there on the list of things I loved was Seung-hyub’s taken aback expression during his “She’s a stunner” exclamations.
The crowning moment of humour for me was poor Hoe-Seung being nominated mermaid bait. His resigned expression as he is lowered into the water, coupled with the solemn salute of the rest of the members and his adorable thumbs up as he disappears into the waves really set off my “Aww!” instincts. Some fans couldn’t help but cheekily notice that they sacrified ‘the new guy’.
Overall, this MV had all the things I consider important to be successful — a fun or interesting theme, consistent and solid sets and costumes, catchy, quality music and lyrics, and quirky characters which show personality. I look forward to seeing N.Flying continue, and replicate this success. As for “The Real”, to quote N.Flying; “She was a stunner”.