Among the new K-pop groups to debut this week are Redsquare; the quintet is the first girl group to debut under new agency About Entertainment, which launched in March. From their debut single album Prequel, “Colorfull” manages to intrigue, even with — or perhaps because of — some of the confusion surrounding their debut.
Most of Redsquare’s members are previously-debuted idols from C9 Entertainment‘s Good Day. Following a lacklustre debut — possibly explained in part by K-pop’s shift away from the Girl Next Door aesthetic to the currently trending Girl Crush concept — the group was dissolved, with five of the members joining the sleeker — albeit still cutesy — septet Cignature under C9’s subsidiary label J9 Entertainment.
Four of the remaining members are confirmed to have now debuted with Redsquare; fifth member Lina also joins the group after releasing “Do I Feel” as solo singer Blenn (not to be confused with the K-indie singer of the same name) with About Entertainment earlier this year.
So, with most — if not all — of the members having already been exposed to the public before, it is surprising to see About insist on obscuring Redsquare’s faces for the entirety of the MV for “Colorfull”.
By bucking the expectation of putting these familiar faces front and centre, Redsquare leaves room for intrigue even in the mire of confusion. If I want to see the members’ faces, I can go look up the teaser images on About’s website and social media; but the stylised blurring of the members’ eyes and mouths, alongside the pretty blindfolds used, just add to the overall aesthetic of girlish sophistication.
The prominence of make-up may feel like an aggressively simplistic idea to display the group’s femininity at worst, and an ode to surface-level choice feminism at best; yet it works as a framing device for the MV, as well as a metaphor for the Girl Crush concept itself. The members preen as they sample lipsticks and blush, but they also choose swatches, work through the formulae and create the products themselves. This gives the decision to keep the “Colorfull” MV faceless even more weight, focusing more on the processes involved in using make-up than how one looks wearing it.
This duality is also symbolised with the soft white outfits worn at the beginning of their manufacturing process, symbolising innocence. In these shots, the members are surrounded by plants and hold fruits. As we move away from the more traditional depiction of femininity, the members successfully complete their make-up line in increasingly synthetic sets, their subsequent maturity symbolised with classy black outfits.
The make-up framing device also allows for the colour red to feature prominently, though other colours are flashed throughout. Redsquare engage in a colour system for their members, just like Red Velvet, Loona, Rainbow and many more before (and after) them (they also have symbols, but one thing at a time). Just like any good debut single should, these colours are introduced in an opening chant vaguely reminiscent of Mika, setting up the hard-hitting percussion off which the vocals and synths soar:
I can be pink, I can be purple
I can be green, I can be brown
I can be blue, I can be yellow
I can be red, yes I’m Colorfull
If we substitute rapper ChaeA’s gold for yellow, then all the colours are accounted for… except for brown, which leads us to the most intriguing and confusing part of this debut — Song Heejin.
Heejin was the leader of Good Day and provides backing vocals for “Colorfull”. Her other recent activity was being part of the production team behind Ong Seongwu‘s debut solo mini-album, Layers, under the name Solsire (쏠시레). Due to her currently sporting a blonde bob, many fans believe she matches the appearance of one of the girls in the MV, even though vocallist Ari also has short hair (albeit brown). Furthermore, none of the close-ups prominently feature anyone with such short hair; all we get are silhouetted dance shots and a blink-and-miss-it peek at the 1:58 mark.
This throws the hiding of faces into a more sinister light, as though About Entertainment was attempting to obfuscate any last-minute line-up changes.
Some people believe Heejin is now an ex-member; some feel she was never in the group; others hold out hope that she will join the group at a later date. The shot of a red cube with a corner missing may possibly be a clue pointing to the latter occurring; however, she is not listed as an artist on About Entertainment’s website.
“Colorfull” successfully introduces the group with a serviceable song that generously coats Redsquare’s Girl Crush approach in just enough bubblegum pop to avoid whiplash. But if that is not your cup of tea, the case of Schrodinger’s girl group member may be enough to pique your interest.