It’s safe to say, 2017 was ripe with comebacks and much-talked-about MVs. Twice a year at Seoulbeats, our writers undertake the painstaking task of selecting their top five MVs for the year. In 2017, some MVs stood out for their narrative and wit, while others took top billings for sheer production quality and aesthetics. Here, writers Chelsea, Caterina, and Hannah discuss their favorite MVs out of all that 2017 had to offer. After reading through our top picks, don’t forget to leave your choices in the comments below — and don’t forget to check out all our other End-of-Year Review panels!


Chelsea Caterina Hannah
1 Red Velvet





“Spring Day”

2 IU 


Red Velvet



“Dream in a Dream”

3 Suran ft. Dean






4 The Black Skirts

“Who Do You Love?”


“Ko Ko Bop”


“All Night”

5 Ha;Felt

“Read Me”






Chelsea: It seems like, save a few overlaps, there’s a lot of diversity to our lists this year. What were some of the criteria you had while making your list, and what made your top pick stand out?

Caterina: I based my picks fundamentally on the aesthetic. Rather than coherence in the plot I tend to prefer vibrant colors and a certain “weird” and modern vibe. “Gashina” and “Peek-a-Boo” fall perfectly into this ‘odd yet aesthetically pleasant’ category.

First of all, let’s talk about “Gashina”: there is a huge gap between how weird Sunmi acts and the girly and pretty aesthetic of the video. There are roses everywhere since the word gashina evokes the image of thorns in Korean (가시 gashi). I found the way roses were implemented in basically every scene — in the background, on the furniture, in her hair ornaments and so on — very clever. A lot of pinks and reds are used, creating a lovely color scheme that again evokes flowery images. This video was made for me to fall in love with it.

What I said about Sunmi also goes for Red Velvet. I really enjoyed the paradox of five angelic looking ladies who are actually ruthless murderers doing absurd things — such as crawling in front of a house made of pizza. “Peek-a-Boo” is also very tongue in cheek with tons of references to their past works. Their wardrobe choices are a little more conventional — there’s lot of Gucci — but it’s not like just anyone can pull off little dresses made of rainbow sequins.

Hannah: I had a similar approach to Caterina, preferring videos that made use of aesthetic devices to represent concepts in new ways. “Spring Day” by BTS topped my list because the imagery, plot and lyrics all tied together to create a visual and emotional journey for the viewer. In stark contrast to Winner’s sunny “Island”, the MV begins with neat tie-in to the song’s title, as V waits to board a train in midwinter to reach a fresh start the coming spring.

The visual references build up in layers; we see the members huddling around a dying match in Omelas, Suga in a pile of dirty laundry that’s like memories he cannot forget, Jimin placing the shoes in the tree to honour the loss of his youth, and J-Hope letting a paper plane fly free. These moments come together in an iconic visual to represent the end of both The Most Beautiful Moment in Life trilogy and BTS’ own youth, as they move onwards and upwards in their career.

Chelsea: “Spring Day” was definitely on my list of honorable mentions. As I said in my review, I love that BTS and Big Hit have delivered artistry with emotional content and narrative throughout the Most Beautiful Moment in Life series. There were so many possible ways to interpret “Spring Day” that it struck a chord for many people, and I think that’s a great achievement.

Caterina: “Peekaboo” did manage your list though, Chelsea. What motivated your picks?

Chelsea: My choices this year fall into two categories: cheeky and confident females, and aesthetically pleasing emotional plots. The playful MVs from Red Velvet, IU, and Suran top my list because this was a great year for female artists, and for showcasing narratives that we don’t often see from them.

In regards to Red Velvet, I love that SM has mastered this youthful but creepy aesthetic for the group: from “Dumb Dumb” to “Russian Roulette” and now “Peek-a-Boo” they’re really developing a consistent theme, but also expanding their narrative capabilities. Not going to lie, I always find Red Velvet choreography a little stiff and awkward, but in the context of their MVs it always works perfectly. They do catatonic and devious so, so well. “Peek-a-Boo” is easily their best MV yet, with a full plot, impressive sets, and that little tongue-in-cheek charm that has become their signature.
Hannah: Speaking of spotlighting confident female groups, I picked SNSD’s “All Night” because SM Entertainment succeeded with this chilled-out MV in presenting a concept that suited SNSD’s seniority and talents. The members are not pigeonholed into an overtly sexy theme as with “You Think”, nor do they don sumptuous ballgowns to play with doves for the goddess image of “The Boys”. Instead, they seem comfortable as a group of twenty-something friends partying together, in one of their most realistic concepts yet. They are not dressed as pilots, nor taxi drivers, but instead show off markedly different outfits that are casually stylish.
To see SNSD come into their own to pull off a more mature concept so smoothly was beautiful to watch and also felt authentic to the group for their final comeback under SM.
Chelsea: I think it’s safe to say that SM has definitely upped their game when it comes to concepts over the past couple years. The label’s artists are finally breaking out of the notorious SM Box and finding concepts that suit them both in terms of content and style. Thinking of Exo, “Ko Ko Bop” was one of my favorite tracks this year, but “Power” was probably my favorite MV out of their three releases. Caterina, how did “Ko Ko Bop” manage to make your final list?

Caterina: At this point you might know why “Ko Ko Bop” is on my list. First I was drawn in by the beautiful colours: cold tones of blue and green paired with details of bright red. Then random objects started flying and I was sold: another MV with a beautiful aesthetic and a pinch of weirdness. Making a hamburger fly was honestly pure genius.
All jokes aside, I almost felt an Alice in Wonderland kind of atmosphere. Just like Alice, the viewer in dragged around in another dimension where everything is possible and a bouncing ball can turn into fireworks — in the right hands. I know some fans dislike it, but I really like how Exo‘s superpowers still come out in their MVs. Wasn’t Xiumin making snow fall into his drink adorable?
Chelsea: The use of their powers was definitely adorable, I’ll give you that.
Moving away from SM artists, the same tongue in cheek quality I appreciated in “Peek-a-Boo” is also why IU’s “Palette” and Suran’s “1+1=0” made my list. Firstly, for Suran, I just loved the aesthetics of the MV: the contrast of colors, and the seemingly endless rotation between her bedroom and the office. The monotony felt real, and the break-up of the MV with an animated sequence was fun and unexpected.
Since “Twenty-three” IU’s snark has really caught my eye. In “Palette” she combats the rumors and online comments against her directly. Instead of offering any apologies, she owns to her quirks, likes and dislikes without shame. She’s fully aware of what people say about her, and she’s also fully aware that she’s still growing. She’s so confident as she tries on different looks, includes her favorite hobbies, and flirts with the camera — all the while acknowledging that her interests may change. I think that’s a refreshing message for young women, especially those in their 20s.
How about you, Caterina? What did you appreciate most in IU’s “Palette”?

Caterina:  To me everything about “Palette” screams Tumblr Aesthetic — there are toys, neon lights, pastel colours and even vintage elements such as the videogame. It’s a pity that G-Dragon didn’t appear in the MV himself, but understandable since he was on tour when the MV was shot. The MV follows the song’s lyrics perfectly and, as Chelsea just said, it’s very tongue-in-cheek.

Speaking of MVs that go well with the lyrics, Winner’s “Island” was shot in Hawaii and the result is beautiful as expected. There are a lot of aerial shots that make the shores look majestic. The saturation was edited so that the sky and the sea are almost turquoise and the beaches are white; it looks like paradise on earth. The members of Winner are playing around and having fun with a group of local girls, which can be considered a step forward from MVs in which all members of a boy group try to flirt with the same girl.

Chelsea: I put The Black Skirts “Who Do You Love?” on my list for similar reasons. Not only is the MV beautifully shot, but it captures the emotional core of the song in a surprising way. Yes, it’s a little dramatic, and the Bonnie and Clyde elements of it might be a little cliche, but the lyrics in conjunction with the story unfolding on the screen really tug on your heart. The way the director played with lighting and space is part of what makes it such a pleasurable and captivating watch.

The scenes in the singing room with the LED lights and the almost claustrophobic way the camera films them really enhance the melancholy undertones of an otherwise sweet song. There are so many contrasts, too: the way the couple acts so openly on the streets in daylight, and then have to hide their feelings inside the dingy rooms; or the foggy intimacy of the shower, compared to the openness of the desert once they’ve finally pulled off their heist and escape. It’s not a happy MV, even if it’s a love story, and I find that somewhat refreshing that there are real emotional consequences in the wake of the crime they commit.

It’s a moving MV, mostly because the first time you listen to the song, it’s not exactly the story you have in mind. Yet, when you see it play out on the screen, it draws a whole new feeling of longing and intimacy out of the track.

Hannah: Seventeen’s “Clap” stood out to me because of the way the MV utilised visual effects to represent the group’s identity as producer-dols. Like Red Velvet’s “Peek-a-Boo”, the group played around with previous concepts to create a tongue-in-cheek MV full of fun references for fans to spot. Aesthetic tricks like layering Woozi’s performance during the bridge to reveal the editing behind the final shot are a clever technique to add depth to a light track. By revealing the way the MV itself is created, these effects credit Seventeen’s hard work producing, choreographing and penning their songs behind the scenes. The shots utilising sets from past music videos and tapes referencing previous title tracks all slot together in a cohesive visual representation of Seventeen’s talent both on and off camera that is captivating to watch.

In contrast, the use of lighting effects in G-Dragon’s “Untitled, 2014”, initially seem to be the only point of interest in the understated MV that accompanies a stripped-down performance. Yet the simplicity of these techniques highlights the poignancy of the song while never taking away from the centrepiece of G-Dragon’s vocals. The colours blush and fade as the melody rises then falls, a perfect accompaniment to embody the conflicting moods of the track. It may be untitled, but the listener needs no further embellishments to tap in to the raw emotions of this piece.

In comparison to the eclectic, even brazen, visuals G-Dragon usually employs to convey the themes of his MVs, this one stands out for its beautiful minimalism. To me this is the MV interpretation of a stage with a single spotlight – in the colourful, chaotic world of K-pop it’s easy to forget that sometimes the performer is all you need to catch the viewer’s attention.

Chelsea: There are a few picks we haven’t covered yet. Hannah, what would you like to say for Ten’s “Dream in a Dream”?

HannahThe idea of an exceptional performer is taken one step further in the MV for “Dream In A Dream” featuring NCT’s Ten. It’s a performance-orientated piece, focusing primarily on Ten’s skill as a dancer. Yet his talent is emphasised by a dazzling array of visual effects that turn this MV into an abstract piece of art that fully immerses the performer into the visual world.
This goes against the norm of K-pop MVs, which usually foreground idols in the centre of the shot; the backdrop of the set there as a visual aid rather than the primary focus. Here, however, Ten is often seen only as a silhouette against swirling colours, behind a veil or through a window. He is part of the larger concept of the MV. The images of the temple, willow tree and round windows hint at a traditional aesthetic that complements the instrumentation of the track, and provides a visual spectacle that elevates the deceptively simple choreography-based video.


Chelsea: The only remaining video on my list is Ha:tfelt‘s “Read Me,” which Lo wrote an excellent analysis of following its October release. If I could group both “Read Me” and “I Wander” together, I would, as the MV’s tell a remarkably story of loss and longing. Post Wonder Girls — and following “Get It?” — this really wasn’t the comeback I was expecting from Ha:tfelt. Yet, the emotional core of the two MVs struck me in a way that was totally unanticipated. The quality of the narrative, along with the quality of the production and the emotional impact of the tracks themselves, really surprised me. They also gave me a lot of anticipation for Ha:tfelt’s future releases as a soloist.

Overall, it seems like 2017 was a pretty great year for female artists, and an even better year for production quality. Hopefully, 2018 gifts us even more aesthetically pleasing MVs to gush over.

Readers, what were your favorite MVs of 2017? 

(YouTube: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5], Images via: Loen Entertainment, Pledis Entertainment, SM Entertainment, MakeUs Entertainment, Million Market.)