The summer of 2019 is heating its peak in the northern hemisphere. K-pop summer songs are doing the same. One contender in the race for song of the summer is “I’m So Pretty” by girl group Nature. Though sliding under many people’s radar, their debut in 2018 was notable enough to nab them a few rookie-of-the-year nominations. After nearly 7-month hiatus, Nature has returned with their first mini-album and a single with plenty of fun and a touch of bite.
“I’m So Pretty” is a fun song, one that manages to balance the current trends with enough risk to pop musically. The Latin influences on K-pop have only grown in 2019, and a summer jam seems like a perfect place for music from warm climates. However, “I’m So Pretty” eschews that trend in favor of a bossa nova beat. The samba-derived rhythm puts emphasis on the second beat which gives “I’m So Pretty” a feeling of perpetual up. It sounds as if anything that happens to Nature simply rolls off their backs as they continue about their day, unconcerned.
This above-it-all attitude is also portrayed through heavy usage of brass. It opens with a loud trumpet blast, which sets the tone fairly well. The omnipresence and repeated runs give “I’m So Pretty” some serious musical backbone, being both loud and playful. The bass synths, again in that bossa nova beat, and touches of piano round out the instrumentation for a track that nicely carves a path between throwback and trendy. “I’m So Pretty” is a fun track full of pep and verve, one that makes you want to dance.
However, it’s not just cocktails and dance jams. There is a level of bite and criticism underneath the upbeat music. Unsurprisingly, “I’m So Pretty” is a song about vanity, but it’s framed as a positive. “I’m So Pretty” shows Nature enjoying and embracing their looks, reveling in feeling pretty and the confidence it brings. This is not something women are supposed to do. Most girls are taught to deflect compliments and play down their looks before they can read. Failure to do so is seen as so self-absorbed that the typical sign of a drama villainess is for her to be beautiful and know it. Women supposed to love ourselves, but never have the audacity to think other people could do the same.
Nature is not doing this. Nature explicitly compare themselves to foxes, seeking the cunning and confidence of them, and the closely associated gumihos, as something to aspire to. They seek to avoid being demure and pliant in relationships, lamenting being suckered into buying a guy’s coffee as being “a bad fox”. They warn that teasing them means they’ll break your heart. They also call out girls who know exactly how pretty they are, but fake modesty instead of owning how fabulous they are.
By far, though, the most striking element of the lyrics, and the one that MV picks up on, is that Nature is not pretty. Nature feels pretty. There are no physical traits mentioned. The closest “I’m So Pretty” gets is Nature bragging about their lipstick, but finding and applying the perfect lipstick is something anyone can do. Their assertions that they’re pretty is based solely on the fact that they like how they look.
As stated earlier, the MV picks up on, and expands upon, this idea that Nature’s confidence is self-generated. The MV shows them engaging in many appearance-oriented activities. However, while the song is about trying to ensnare a guy who can handle their attitudes, the MV presents a world of purely female vanity. Which, honestly, is how it should be.
There are no boys to impress, no big date to dress up for. Instead, the members apply perfume, freshen blush, run beauty blogs and prepare to party for no one but themselves. The ball thrown is the most clear on this. There are several references to Cinderella– the glass slipper, the animals in human collars, the masquerade theme– but Nature ignores all that. Much like Cinderella herself, they’re not interested a prince, Nature justs want to party and feel good doing so.
The visual palette is the other element of the MV that truly impacts the audience. It splits between more tropical rainforest sets and set-pieces– likely a reference to bossa nova’s Brazilian origin as well as their name– and pink or pink-adjacent colors. Soft pink, hot pink, pink and orange, reds, these are the dominant colors, with some blues as counterpoint. The tone set is one of distinct femininity, but a vivid, almost aggressive one. Nature are not playing shy; they are announcing who they are and making sure everyone notices.
“I’m So Pretty” is a fun summer jam. The beat is infectious, the rhythm is literally made to dance to, and Nature’s winning charisma cannot help but make you smile. If it is also a reminder that the next time someone says you look nice, you can stop after “thanks”, well, that may be the cherry on top.
(Images via Stone Music Entertainment, YouTube)