Park Jihoon has returned with his second solo mini album 360, accompanied by a slick synth-pop title track of the same name. Having achieved international popularity as a former member of Wanna One, and with his solo debut EP O’Clock setting a new record on the Hanteo Chart for a male solo artist’s first day sales, Jihoon’s comeback carries high expectations.

The smooth, dreamy vibe of title track “360” develops the sound Jihoon first explored in “L.O.V.E“. With its elegant, performance-orientated concept and minimalist production, “360” builds on the success of Jihoon’s debut, distilling his first solo venture into a more mature style that showcases his vocal, rap and dance skills to equal and impressive effect.

The music video opens in shadow, interspersed with shifting lights that flicker in time to the rippling electronic notes that kick-start “360”. Jihoon moves across the frame in shadow, slow, searching, as the soundscape builds and the song takes shape. The colour palette is all cool blues and icy whites, while Jihoon dresses in monochrome to match the setting. The mood isn’t sombre, but expectant, the performance about to begin.

“360” is a song about the art of owning the stage, and the MV reflects this through its use of alternating sets. Once the beat kicks in, the scene shifts to fragmented close-ups of Jihoon dancing, shot in black and white. The camera stays close, allowing the viewer to appreciate the flow of movement without revealing the full space. It’s reminiscent of rehearsal footage, slightly shaky, a little off-kilter, framing the shot entirely around Jihoon’s performance.

When the chorus drops, the MV transforms, moving from shadows and fragmented shots to a clear view of a brilliantly lit set. Jihoon leads his back-up dancers in formation, dressed now in a red velvet jacket that complements the warm gold tones of the room around him. A second dance scene takes place in an azure pool of water, adding a new level of finesse to the tightly choreographed performance. Like the vibe of the song itself, the dance for “360” is sharp yet stylish. There’s a nice focus on the details, as Jihoon mimes a photo being taken as he sings the word “flash” and uses his hands to form the numbers of the song’s title, gazing through the zero he forms with his right hand as if looking through a camera lens towards the audience.

The styling also clearly distinguishes Jihoon from the blue and gold lit frames of the MV. Each outfit is elegant, from the shirt and waistcoat he wears to dance in the pool of water, to the long black coat and boots he dons to saunter through a set filled with blooming white roses and delicate snowfall. In the second verse, the MV combines the shadowy frames from the opening scenes and the warm lighting from the first chorus to show Jihoon dancing in silhouette, surrounded by a gorgeous haze of gold mist. This use of lighting accentuates the details in the choreography, allowing Jihoon to showcase his dance skill uninhibited by the distraction of sets or costume.

Interspersed between each dance scene are cleverly crafted visuals of Jihoon’s profile, mirrored in close-up and marbled with flowing light. These simulated shots echo the style of the video as a whole: there is no overarching plot here; it’s simply the performance, framed by clever camera angles and flickering lights. At one point a white pony appears, at another Jihoon gracefully floats upwards out of the frame. There’s golden confetti and silvery plants, balloons and roses. Everything is pretty enough that it doesn’t really need to make sense. Tying it all together is Jihoon, who connects the frames through the flow of the choreography.

The concept is a clever realization of the song’s lyrics, which encapsulate a performer’s ambition on stage:

Pay attention to me hurry up
I want to go further, to the top
I prepared to show myself properly
Just follow me
Can you see that?

Three six oh zero
Take a shot for me
Three six oh zero
Take a shot for me

It’s an intriguingly meta idea, as the career of an idol is a constant cycle from one performance to preparation for the next. “360” captures this ebb and flow, from the black and white anticipation of the opening shots, to the vivid colour of the choreography scenes during each chorus. The song itself reflects this concept – perhaps inadvertently. The electronic flutters that fill the production create a nice contrast when layered over Jihoon’s low vocal timbre, and the driving EDM bassline gives the track a constant pulse of energy. Yet the song never blooms into something brilliant. Jihoon chants the chorus, which loops repeatedly without a strong hook to really distinguish it from the rest of the song.

Jihoon proved himself to be an excellent all-rounder as a member of Wanna One. He can sing, dance and rap competently and with confidence. “360” is a strong showcase for his skills, but it doesn’t elevate them here to something more than the sum of their parts. By focusing so methodically on showing Jihoon the performer, the MV lacks the scope to create a unique concept that could distinguish him clearly as a solo artist. Jihoon has the charisma and talent to carry a solo stage, and “360” sounds trendy and it looks slick. But ultimately it shows more style than delivering true substance.

(YouTube [1][[2], Kpop Lyrics. Images via Maroo Entertainment.)