In their five-year history, Got7 have built a loyal fanbase and found international success thanks to factors like their impressive acrobatics, hard-hitting choreography, larger-than-life personalities, and high-energy, synth-heavy releases from “Hard Carry” to “Eclipse.”
That is why it is refreshing to see the septet show restraint and a softer, sultrier side of themselves with “You Calling My Name,” the title track off their 10th EP, Call My Name. The song and accompanying MV showcase a darker, sexier Got7 that fans have not really gotten to see in the past few years.
The aesthetic of this comeback most closely resembles their successful 2015 release “If You Do.” Like “If You Do,” “You Calling My Name” includes retro synth sounds, snaps, and a driving percussion in its instrumental, though these are supporting players that flow in and out of the mix. Rather than relying on a bombastic hook like tracks of the past, “You Calling My Name” is more subdued.
In the lyrics, Got7 yearn to hear their former lover calling their name again as they find themselves lost and adrift without them. This desperation is echoed in the almost eerie backing synth, as well as the layered echo effect behind Bambam, Jackson, and Mark‘s raps.
Where listeners might expect a formulaic beat drop to kick in at the chorus, all the previously introduced sounds fall away, and a funky rhythm guitar line jumps in alongside Jinyoung‘s bright falsetto voice. A deep, breathy whisper backs the soft vocals of each chorus, creating a sensual mood. The energy amps up as the track goes on and the chorus evolves with each repetition, adding more elements to the spare arrangement without becoming muddy or overcrowded.
The styling, choreography, and concept of the MV reflect the song’s slick, sophisticated sound. Their main outfits are streamlined silk suits, luxe outerwear, and rich leather suits with no shirts underneath. These looks are plain yet powerful, with the leather outfits being particularly mature and sexy without being overly sexual. It is not far off from something that Got7’s JYP seniors 2PM would wear.
The choreography also has a sleek polish that is a change of pace for the group. The MV starts out with the members in a clock formation one that is sure to become an iconic image for the group. JB lies on his side and rotates around as the clock’s hands. After the image of a drinking glass smashes around him, he begins to spin, pushing off the feet of his members. Clock choreography is so commonplace in K-pop, which makes it all the more impressive that Got7 have found a new, unique way to incorporate the motif in a dance.
The rest of the choreography is wonderfully restrained, focusing on small flicks of the wrist, subtle shoulder shimmies, and swivels of the hips. This kind of delicate precision is something that fans have been hoping to see since Got7’s lauded six-member cover of Shinwa‘s “This Love” back in 2016.
In their early years, Got7 was known for tricking and acrobatic choreography, but their choreography as a group as well as their subunits JJ Project and Jus2 has evolved to focus on artistic, eye-catching, and symbolic shapes. The sharp, smaller but still impactful moves of “You Calling My Name” seem most closely related to Jus2’s “Focus on Me,” one of the best choreographies of 2019 so far. The pared down moves allow the dance to breathe and with less clutter, opening space for viewers to appreciate the moves the members are making.
In the MV itself, Got7 move between minimalistic sets where they dwell on regrets and past mistakes. Play between light and shadow creates movement and visual interest, while the walled spaces of rooms, hallways and cars make the members seem enclosed, almost trapped. Scenes of the separate members smoothly transition by zooming from one space to the next or by overlaying a shot of one member onto a new scene with another. Flashes of smoke and cryptic symbols in a bold lime green, the group’s official color, punctuate the dark color palette, adding an air of mystery and drama.
Fans quickly deciphered the symbol that is featured on the album cover and used throughout the video. The design “ㅂD” looks like a combination of the Korean letter “ㅂ” (b/p sound) and the letter “D” but is actually the oracle bone script form of the Chinese character “名,” which means “name.” This symbol adds a cool touch of meaning to the video without it getting bogged down in a needlessly complicated plot or mythology.
This “name” symbol appears reflected on faces and in eyes before encircling eldest member Mark during his admittedly cringey but vulnerable English breakdown. The symbols then draw in second-oldest member and leader JB, who joins him in the center of this circle. Jackson, the next-eldest member, is then shown running toward them, following the call of their name.
As the song hits its brassy, energetic final chorus, the members all finally come together. The image of the breaking glass returns. Though it remains broken, the water droplets that are flung out in its destruction turn bright green and scatter like stars in the night sky. Beauty comes from loss, and pain becomes purpose.
This is a nod to fans as well. In their previous song “Thank You,” Got7 compare the seas of fans holding up green lightsticks at their concerts to “the green lights of the Milky Way.”
One of the final shots of the video, Bambam floating amid fluttering white feathers, is another reference to fans. Got7’s fandom is iGot7, shortened as ahgase, which sounds like the Korean word for baby bird. Birds and flight have featured prominently in Got7’s songs and MVs. In this case, the feathers represent the thousands of birds lifting up the group, calling their names and giving them hope and identity as a group.
Got7’s sound and image continue to evolve, but their talent, bond, and appreciation for their fans are undeniable. After a few comebacks spent producing emotional and personal yet disjointed singles, “You Calling My Name” strips away the needless CGI and flashy production of past MVs to focuse on Got7’s strengths. This could be the fresh jolt the group needs to continue to play and grow artistically.