A.C.E dropped a dance-heavy MV for their lead single, “Under Cover,” which is off their second mini album of the same name. This particular MV does not have a plot, focusing instead on symbolism combined with a killer dance routine.
The MV for “Under Cover” features mostly empty and neutral settings that look like they are in an abandoned building. Such environments create a desolate tone and also draw the focus towards the members themselves. There are several texts found in the MV like “fragile,” “this boy is not a toy,” and “danger of suffocation.” The warning tags indicate that they are both delicate but can become harmful if not treated carefully. In relation to the song, they boys are asking a potential love interest to be gentle with their feelings. Supporting this concept is also a picture of a rose that is set on fire. Roses can be harmful due to their thorns unless handled carefully.
In another scene, the members are playing roulette, a classic casino game taken to represent the vice of gambling. In this case, A.C.E uses it to convey the notion of taking chances. The persona of the song is determined to win the heart of his love interest. In pursuing this potential lover, he is taking a risk in possibly getting his heart broken. Unfortunately, the concept of chances comes through weakly and the whole casino scene seems out of place with the rest of the MV. Perhaps it would have made more sense if the MV chose to expand on the idea of warnings.
Moving away from symbolism, A.C.E offers up a good performance. In case you were unaware, A.C.E started off as a dance cover group, equipped with amazing dancing techniques. They certainly did not hesitate to show off those talents in this MV. The moves are wide and aggressive with animated facial expressions. Their stomping is followed by a shaking camera that adds to the impact of their steps. Furthermore, the vigorous movements mesh well with the way they growl out the chorus. There are also parts when members are intertwined in the choreography, showing how well they work as a unit.
Just like their dance routine, their song is filled with aggressiveness. The lyrics of the song point to an obsessive persona who desires to be with a certain someone no matter what. The verses are assertive and suggest that their love interest is not allowed to deny their advances. However, there are also more romantic lyrics which balance out that commanding tone. The persona of the song says he is going to protect her and that she completes him.
On a first listen, the lyrics may sound like the words of a crazy stalker and are even borderline threatening. However, it is really the persona’s eagerness in wanting to be with her and his attempts at trying to pump himself up to make a move. The lyrics fit the song’s fast-paced tune well:
Undercover to your heart
Yes, you are so excited
Okay, don’t say no
There is no way out for you.
Because I want you to be mine, be mine
Take your heart
Only you and I
Follow me baby
The song itself is an energy-charged mesh of rock and hip-hop. Byeongkwan raps his lines chaotically while Wow keeps a more steady and quick delivery. They both stand out in the song because of their passionate performances. Although the song is heavy on the rapping, the hard parts of the tune are balanced out by the soothing vocals. Jun, Chan, and Donghun all take turns singing the haunting bridge of the song that leads up to the climactic chorus.
While the other members are in muted colors during their solo parts, Byeongkwan and Wow are both dressed rather flamboyantly. Beyeonkwan is dressed in a black and yellow outfit, a cheetah crop top, and round pigtails. Wow also stands out with his glittered eyebrows and multi-layered outfit.
This choice of clothing might seem over-the-top, but it might in fact seem less ridiculous if we think about earlier K-pop styles. Such outfits are precisely the kind of fashion we use to see in K-pop before it became all black outfits. It is impressive to see that they were both comfortable enough to get a little crazy and slightly feminine with their fashion choices.
As a whole, the MV’s use of imagery could have been more polished and consistent. Regardless, the song and MV really shows that A.C.E is not just playing around and trying to make a tiny splash in the K-pop scene. This release proves that they are out to dominate and become one of K-pop’s leading groups. We just need to wait and see if they can keep up with such high quality productions and even take it another step further.