Starship Entertainment’s track record of releasing refreshing summer hits is proven once again with a collaboration between Monsta X’s Hyungwon and VIXX’s Hongbin for “Cool Love”. While the duo’s collaboration with Pepsi resulted in a fun CF, the MV and song on their own are largely forgettable. 

Compared to Ong Seungwoo’s beach-themed collaboration with Pepsi earlier this summer, the MV this time around was centered on creating a CGI-filled fantasy world. It starts out with the pair lighting sparklers and lounging on a mystical deck overlooking the ocean, before transforming into a neon-ringed catwalk. While the opening shot is certainly a beautiful one, scenes like the CGI catwalk, and later on when the boys create a mini lightshow back on the deck, ultimately fell flat. It’s clear an effort was made to make the Pepsi-drinking experience look like some type of rave, but the execution came off as cringey and poorly executed. 

That being said, the choreography shots are certainly impressive. The contrast of the duo in mostly white outfits with the back-up dancers in black is a classic one, but paired with the clean backgrounds creates a sharp visual. Seeing Hyungwon and Hongbin’s silhouettes dancing through the blue-tiled cube (did anyone else get Tesseract vibes?) edges towards looking low-quality, but their skills shine through. Despite the CGI being a clear priority from a production point of view, the more simplistic shots are the most memorable. 

Another highlight of the MV is how much attention to detail went into showcasing their talents. In 2017, Hyungwon made his debut as a DJ, under the name DJ H.One, through a collaboration with renowned DJ and producer Justin Oh. He later went on to perform sets at the Ultra Korea Music Festival in 2017 and 2018, KCON Japan in 2017, as well as during a few stops on Monsta X’s ‘Beautiful’ World Tour. During the MV H.One makes an appearance with a hard-hitting EDM solo right before the bridge. 

While VIXX hasn’t promoted in Korea since “Scentist” in 2018 it’s clear that Hongbin is anything but out of practice. The choreography incorporates a lot of sensual, but sharp moves that were reminiscent of the moves in “Shangri-La”. VIXX has made a name for themselves with their distinct concepts and unique choreography, but, in doing so, Hongbin’s dancing abilities aren’t usually in the spotlight. Seeing so much of his performance in “Cool Love” was a great reminder of how he is more than capable of carrying his own. 

The same can be said of Hyungwon and his performances with Monsta X. The group’s intense choreography typically does a decent job of giving each member at least one moment to shine, but the distribution isn’t always equal. Hyungwon’s dancing skills have been well-known as far back as his pre-debut performances in No. Mercy, Monsta X’s survival program, so “Cool Love” was a welcome refresher of his talents. 

As for the song itself, I have to commend Starship’s habit of recruiting up-and-coming producers for their CFs. “Cool Love” is credited to producer Dress, a recent addition to the label’s subsidiary Starship X, who is garnering much attention after creating Baekhyun’s debut track, “UN Village”. Besides Dress, Hyolyn’s “Fruity” in 2017 features GroovyRoom, a dynamic duo in the Korean hip-hop scene; Ong Seungwoo’s “Heart Sign” was produced by Flow Blow, a producer pair who are responsible for “Energetic” by Wanna One and “Shine” by Pentagon; and project group YDPP’s “Love It Live It” is composed by OREO, a team who created singles for GFriend, Nu’Est, and BTOB. CFs have a habit of following the same formula when it comes to creating a catchy song, so it’s a welcome change to see brands seeking out actual talent. 

As far as Starship x Pepsi collabs go, “Cool Love” does not do too much to stand out from the rest. The MV managed to highlight Hyungwon and Hongbin’s talents in a way neither has had much of an opportunity to do before, but the video is far from a memorable experience. Ultimately, it did what it had to do: sell Pepsi and look cool. No more, no less. 

(YouTube. Images via Starship Entertainment.)