In what is easily one of the most anticipated debuts of the year, SuperM has debuted with the wildly intense “Jopping”. With the team being marketed as the “Avengers of K-pop”, it’s evident within the first few seconds of the music video that they are taking that label to heart. However, the intensity of the MV paired with rather poor line distribution made it seem like it was trying to do too much. While it works as a solid introduction to the project, there is room to grow before reaching “Avengers” status.
Throughout the pre-debut trailers, each member was shown navigating a futuristic setting, with Taemin acting as a sort of puppet-master from behind the scenes. With how omnipresent Taemin was in these teasers many assumed the mv would follow a similar plot, or at least acknowledge these vague, yet intriguing storylines, but that was not the case. Instead, SuperM alternates between traveling across deserts and massive cities in order to reach a holographic arena in the middle of a desert.
The individual shots are impactful, contrasting the darkness of the arena and full group dance clips with snippets of color. Specifically, the scenes of Kai sky-diving from a helicopter, and Taemin doing his signature spin in the desert stood out the most for their beautiful framing.
Despite the artistry in the more creative shots, the rest of the MV looks like a call back to the late 90s and early 2000s. The all-black costuming during their choreography shots is incredibly reminiscent of iconic MV such as Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s “Scream”, or even *NSYNC’s “It’s Gonna Be Me”. Paired with the slow to fast motion filming and tacky CGI, it comes across as dated instead of revolutionary. SM’s attempts at creating a ground-breaking spectacle of an MV, with what was likely a very steep budget, ultimately fall flat. In trying to do “everything” — CGI, dramatic backdrop, sleek vehicles, etc — the end result loses itself trying to constantly one-up the last shot.
Ultimately this attempt at being the pinnacle of SM MVs is arguably not needed. In a group that combines the centers from some of their most well-performing groups, the MV could easily have been drastically toned down, and still would have come across as more impressive than what they currently have. Fans have seen these idols shine in nearly every type of release in their respective groups — from Taemin in the plot-driven “View” or the sensual nuances in “Move”, to Ten and Taeyong’s “Baby Don’t Stop”, and even Lucas and Ten in WayV’s “Dream Launch”. Every member is more than capable of standing out in their own way, which is why “Jopping” feels like it is battling against their star power rather than complimenting it.
Beyond the disappointing aspects of the video, the song itself also felt like an anthem style SM has never tried before. The inclusion of what sounded very close to the “Avengers” theme song tied in seamlessly with the bass-heavy synths throughout the track. While starting a song off with fake cheering can come across as a little cheesy, here it felt essential to the epic nature of it all.
As far as line distribution goes it feels like every member is crammed into the first verse, before trickling down to Baekhyun, Taemin, and Mark as it comes to a close. The rap line suits the song spectacularly and Lucas’ voice stood out despite not being heard much. Ten is lost in the shuffle as he is virtually non-existent past the intro. The uniqueness of Baekhyun and Taemin’s singing styles makes Ten’s absence a glaring one as he could have provided the needed balance. Instead, hearing Baekhyun and Taemin play off one another created a competition instead of harmony. More could have been done throughout the track to fairly highlight each member’s vocal strengths.
Another highlight in the song is the final chorus, where Baekhyun adlibs one of his signature high notes. At first listen it even sounded eerily similar to Changmin from TVXQ, but that might be me projecting a reality where they are in their own project team. One day.
The real power in this release lies within their dancing abilities. As Baekhyun teased in one of the group’s Instagram live’s, the whole song felt like a dance break from start to finish. It looks like every member has a moment to shine as the center in the choreo, especially Ten’s solo at the very end.
At the end of the day, “Jopping” appears to be exactly what SM wanted for their Avengers: a bombastic anthem projecting to the world how flashy K-pop can really be. For many this could even be their first introductions to the included groups given how Shinee and Exo have not been as active in the U.S. lately. Regardless, as the first debut of its kind, there is definitely room for improvement. Hopefully, there will be a comeback that will showcase each member’s talents.
(YouTube. Images via SM Entertainment)