“Goodbye.” The impactful opening to this downbeat song sets the context for the rest of the music video but also ties in perfectly with the theme of Bye, Dongwoo‘s first mini album as a soloist. While the multi-talented rapper from Infinite has just made his solo debut, he is also likely to enlist this year, and Bye will likely be the only solo activity we will get from Dongwoo in a long while.

Dongwoo released the music video for “Party Girl”, a B-side track, alongside “News”, the title track for his album. Taken together, they show two very different sides of the singer. Dongwoo sheds his usual swag persona for a darker and rawer portrayal of a despairing, heartbroken protagonist.

Dongwoo exudes charm and charisma in every shot of this music video – from his effortless transitions between singing and rapping to his sharp choreography scenes. His intense gaze is mesmerising and with his entire being, Dongwoo commands the attention of the viewer, even in scenes which are dimly lit.

Left alone after being dumped by his lover, Dongwoo navigates through this break-up news in this music video. The impersonal and cold way this news is delivered is represented through the doors that keep closing before he reaches them. Just as the protagonist had no control over the ending of this relationship, these doors close and trap him inside, even if he does not want them to.

He is shrouded in darkness at various points of the video, and everything, from the set design to his attire, screams of this gloominess and emptiness. When paired with the lines “I’m here, where are you?”, the scene of Dongwoo disappearing into the darkness has an especially profound effect. It expresses an unwillingness to move on, an inability to experience life without the return of his lover. Dongwoo eventually disappearing completely at the end of the video drives home this point as well, of how the protagonist feels like he is nothing without his lover.

This is it

Our time is gone

As it is, it is scattered here today

The concept of time is salient in this whole release. While the lyrics of the song focus more on the inability of the protagonist to rewind time to return to how things were in the past, the music video shows how time stays still for him. Just as the clock remains at 7:16, and the shattered glass reforms soon after, the protagonist seems to be stuck in a time that does not pass. Whether it is due to his longing for the past or not, his actions no longer have an effect on the final state of the room. The helplessness of the protagonist is effectively conveyed through these thoughtfully conceptualised scenes and highlights once again his loss of control over the situation.

While there are many cool shots in the video (of books flying) the relevance of certain artistic choices are unclear. For one, the lighting is at times too dark to even make out whether Dongwoo is there. While this does match the melancholic mood of the song, it is a little excessive. Dongwoo’s solo dance moments are beautiful to watch as well, but the camerawork feels half-hearted. Unlike his dance shots in “Party Girl”, these are not pure silhouette shots, which would have emphasised the dance moves more. They are also not bright enough for Dongwoo’s expressions to be seen. The poor lighting reduces the emotive effect of these scenes and they feel out of place as compared to the other sophisticated parts of the video.

As a whole, Dongwoo’s solo debut is definitely a successful one. Time and time again he has proved his versatility as a musician and dancer, both within Infinite and now as a solo artist. Dark and melancholic is not what I would have expected for a debut from Dongwoo, given his cheery personality, but he certainly pulled it off convincingly. While he may not be active in the near future, I will look forward to the quality music that this talented man has to offer.

(Youtube, Lyrics via Klyrics, Images via Woollim Entertainment)