Ha:tfelt recently released her new single Deine (which is the German word for the adjective “yours”) and a music video for “Pluhmm”. After the Wonder Girls disbandment, Ha:tfelt’s decision to join Amoeba Culture —a company mostly known for hip-hop and R&B artists—seemed particularly interesting.
During her idol days, she showcased her artistry in her first mini-album Me?, and after joining Amoeba Culture, she released double MVs for “Wander” and “Read Me”. Her solo discography dips into various genres, and with this new release, I wondered if she would try a new sound, or go with something more in line with her previous releases.
In K-pop, it’s not very common to hear a bossa nova-inspired song with electronic influences. Ha:tfelt might have tried a great variety of styles and genres before, but this is a first for her and she pulls it off wonderfully. The instrumental of the song is kept as minimalistic as possible to highlight her delicate vocal tone, making the overall atmosphere more intimate and sensual.
In the MV, Ha:tfelt shows a new side of herself: she has matured into a sexually confident woman. She shows a kind of subtle sexuality which manages to be very erotic and not vulgar in any way. She seduces the guy she is interested in not by being overly provocative, but rather leaving things to his imagination, such as by passing her phone all over her body—capturing her eyes and going all the way down her belly. Rather than showing anything explicitly sexual, the screen displays the lyrics she’s singing.
In the lyrics, Ha:tfelt fantasies about someone she has just met and doesn’t know very well. Despite this, she seems to feel an attraction and wants to get closer to him. She daydreams about asking him a series of trivial questions, while hinting that she is interested in pursuing a relationship:
Do you like plums?
What’s the name of your pet dog?
At what time do you usually go to sleep?
Have you ever spent the night with someone you just met?
I want to know everything about you
I want your heart all for myself
If it’s not you I don’t want to know
Just stay like this for a while
The way she casually hints at a one-night stand—and implies her desire to get intimate with her crush—is particularly empowering. In K-pop lyrics women are rarely unapologetic about their desires, with a handful of remarkable exceptions like Gain. They often sing about trying to find ways to be attractive in the eyes of their love interest, often sexualising their bodies. On the other hand, Ha:tfelt is the assertive one in her relationship: she suggests dropping formal speech and going out together to eat, boldly stating that she is a brave “Gryffindor girl”, alluding to the Harry Potter franchise.
The music video is very artsy, and it is made sensual not by what it reveals, but what it does not reveal. In the first scene Ha:tfelt lays naked in a bathtub, but her body is barely visible. She only shows details, mostly her tattoos, leaving much to the viewers’ imagination. She also undresses by cutting her panties with scissors, but the scene gets interrupted right before she cuts.
Every scene of the music video takes place indoors, and Ha:felt dances alone around a hallway and a bedroom. The color scheme in the music video is very moder, dominated by trendy, muted pastel shades such as dusty pink, yellow and green. Dusty pink in particular is present in nearly every scene, and even Ha:tfelt’s hair is dyed in this shade, adding to the subtle sensuality of the aesthetics.
In “Pluhmm,” Ha:tfelt shows how much she matured throughout the years, both with a new sound and a new image. She’s not afraid to be sensual, but keeps it subtle, maintaining control over portrayals of her sexuality without becoming objectified. Having reached this point of her career, Ha:tfelt shows commitment to pursuing the kind of music she really wants to, rather than concerning herself with commercial success. This choice is definitely admirable, and “Pluhmm” makes for a breath of fresh air in a music scene that often too saturated with trend-following songs.
(YouTube, Images via Amoeba Culture)