Months pass unnoticed in the hands of quarantine. Both March and April have passed in a blur due to lifestyles adjusting to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Musically, all our plans for watching our favourite artists live have likely been postponed or cancelled. From BTS postponing the remaining dates on their Map of the Soul world tour to Twice cancelling shows on their Twicelights Tour, the music industry is coming to a standstill.
In addition, according to the Record Labels Industry Association of Korea over 60 live events have been cancelled from February 1 to April 11, resulting in losses of over 3.6 billion won. K-pop groups do have a chance for their cancelled concerts to be rescheduled, but indie musicians often have no such guarantee. This has also lead to artists postponing their upcoming albums since they would be unable to tour to support their album.
In the wake of this news, here is a collection of Unsung Artists who have endeavoured to release MV’s despite the pandemic;
Onewe (feat. Hwa Sa) – Q
Onewe have come a long way since initially appearing as MAS 0094 on The Unit. From struggling with their choreography to releasing brilliant single after brilliant single. Onewe have grown into one of the most exciting K-pop bands in Korea.
Instrumentally “Q” pulls a pop-rock melody and infuses it with an almost R&B texture. The result is an effortlessly catchy track that itches with a lyrical performance based off of the hopelessness of a relationship falling apart.
I don’t get it, the calls that come in late at night
I don’t get it, the expressions you sometimes send
I don’t get it, the you who is bright every day
I don’t get it.
The MV for “Q” is a stripped-back affair, with very little going on in its backgrounds. Each member of the band is filmed wandering across empty rooms allowing their vocals to fill up the empty spaces.
Of course, they aren’t the only ones whose voices are left echoing off the walls. Hwa Sa of Mamamoo features heavily on this track as her vocals blend stunningly well with CyA, Dongmyeong and Yonghoon. This marriage between Mamamoo and Onewe is a long time coming since the groups are labelmates and Onewe crafted a gorgeous cover of Mamamoo’s “Hip” earlier this year.
Bibi – Kazino
Some of you may know Bibi from the show The Fan or the fact that she is signed to Feel Ghood Music. Bibi’s brand of sound is one rooted to R&B as seen all across her debut EP, “The Manual for those who want to love”. Her most notable feature is currently on JYP’s “Fever” but it is her newest single “Kazino” that we have to talk about!
The MV itself carries a 19 age-restriction which is likely due to the gambling theme which runs to the core of both the MV and its lyrics. The MV takes place in an underground gambling den. This darkened space fits well with the moody production of this track and vocal looping featured prominently in its chorus.
Spin it, spin it
P****, send it all
Chips and, chips and, chips and
Risk your life
I bet on this and, bet on that bitch
Demon under the table, talking to you
Risk it, risk it, risk it, till the last dime
There is also a woman in the MV who is shown tied up on a large bed while the gambling proceeds. It is quietly implied, therefore, that the woman’s storyline is intertwined with the gambling theme of the MV. This powerful imagery brings to mind topics such as Nth Room and human-trafficking.
For an MV to portray so much in just under 4 minutes, it is well worth checking out. (plus there’s also a Tiger JK cameo so!).
Yezi – Home
Yezi has lived many musical lives, from being a member of Fiestar to dominating as a rapper on Unpretty Rapstar 2. Yezi now performs as a solo vocalist signed to JG Star Entertainment. Her newest MV “Home” picks up where her previous single “My Gravity” left off.
Yezi’s music is now devoid of rap-lead verses. Instead, we hear her channelling artists such as Heize and IU who are primarily known for their vocals but can deliver their verses in a combination of spoken and sung.
I don’t wanna feel the way that I do
Trying to erase you
But you spill out in my room
Why do I colour myself with you every day?
Standing in the past
We’re still wandering
I hope the way back is you
The MV for “Home” is a melancholic showcase of Yezi as a K-pop star. This is an image she had tried to get rid of during her Unpretty Rapstar era. It is a wonderful surprise to see her shine in this way again. Lyrically the track speaks of finding a home in lovers and the misery of missing that home when the relationship ends. If you can relate, be sure to check this anthemic track out.
DeVita – All About You
DeVita is AOMG‘s newest signing, following a week-long teaser trail on YouTube which had fans guessing that the newest AOMG signing would likely be Lee Hi or an artist from Signhere such as Maddox or Meloh.
In the end, it was DeVita formerly known as Chloe DeVita. If you haven’t heard her on Woo’s deep-cut track “Noise”, it would have been hard to draw a connection to AOMG. None the less her signing is inspired, DeVita has wasted no time releasing three MV’s back to back to back.
I don’t wanna have to lose it
To know what our love is worth
You could be my favourite love song
Have we been through
Too many wrongs to make a right?
The MV for “All About You” is the most stunning of the bunch. Shot entirely in black and white and sung solely in English. “All About You” is a quiet ballad created by an artist who doesn’t usually do quiet ballads. Its set in and around an empty swimming pool turned half-pipe for skating. The MV has such a lovely mood that holds it together in the same manner as its lyrical love story, a must-see for those who love well shot MV’s and modern ballads.
Stray Kids – Mixtape: On Track
To chase your dreams is the sentiment held on Stray Kids newest track “On Track”. The single serves as the title track for the second instalment of their Mixtape Project which coincides with their second anniversary as a boyband.
The MV traces the outlines of a teen drama with two males leads (Hyunjin and Lee Know) and a female lead whom Hyunjin’s character seems to be in love with. The MV ropes together the lyrical theme of chasing one’s dreams to that of the MV’s plot which points to chasing after the girl of Hyunjin’s characters dreams.
Even a fool knows this
You’re the best thing I’ve got
Once again towards you
One more step,
I will never stop
I shouldn’t turn away
I know it because I’m a fool
I can’t live without you
It is a simple enough plot that is carried well by the MV and makes for a solid b-side in Stray Kids discography. The MV ends with a “To Be Continued” stamp hinting at a possible comeback in 2020. The coronavirus may push these plans back so for the while, this quiet single should do just fine.
Loopy (feat. Changmo – Ana
MKIT RAIN’s Loopy dropped his majorly awaited record No Fear on the 14th of April. The SMTM 777 Runner up has quickly established himself as one of the most interesting acts in the Korean hip-hop sphere. His title MV “Ana” serves as the visual centrepiece for his album and what a jarring ride it is.
The video for “Ana” is drenched in neon-lights and despair. Its visuals play with trap-house aesthetics if that trap-house were located in some dystopian future that is. The MV’s greatest motif is a smiley face pill, pulling at the modern convention within American hip-hop namely a complicated relationship with drugs.
Nothing is easy, they talk a lot
It’s just the same every day
The colour of that street light,
The name that isn’t called
Maybe it resembles me why, why
Why do my eyes open every day, The inconsiderate sun
Loopy’s vocals on this track are smotheringly good. Fluidly moving from one verse to a next without seemingly catching a breath. While the refrain of “Ana” may be one of the catchiest refrains that have come out this year. Changmo’s feature breaks the trance-like delivery of Loopy but continues in its moody onslaught of despair-held lyricism. Overall it is a gorgeously moody track that shows the hype around Loopy is well warranted.
MY.st – Don’t Know
It’s always a lovely moment when a new K-pop group debuts. MY.st is that new group and “Don’t Know” is their debut single. So introductions are in order, the group consists of Juntae, Keonwoo, Minho, Woncheol and Woojin they’re currently signed to MY Entertainment.
Unfortunately “Don’t Know” is a straightforward single, and the MV does nothing new at all. The main theme of their MV and stop me if you’ve heard this before seems to be a lightness found in the dark. This is shown by an opening and closing shots of a hand at first carrying nothing, but by the MV’s end carrying a light. This is also accompanied by black and white costume designs.
It’s a dull beginning for a group who are already handicapped having debuted within these dark times. That being said they have solid vocals within the group and a very unique image. So hopefully, there is some light at the end of this dark debut.
Monsta X – You Can’t Hold My Heart
Monsta X has decided to bless us with an MV in support of the best track off of their first full length-English album All About Luv. The MV stands as a stylistic statement more than anything else. Showing how easily the Korean act can mimic the MV conventions found in western music videos.
The look and lighting for the MV space are similar to that of Drake‘s “Hotline Bling” which is, in turn, indebted to artist James Turrell. The smoke that blares out of each members heart is a lovely added touch, far more tasteful then say Drake’s call-girl centre.
Oh, can you stay awake
One more hour, maybe this can change
Oh, can you numb the pain
‘Cause it runs deep in constant waves
This adoption of an American artists style in their MV connects to the international success of All About Luv and its all English language concept which claimed the No.5 spot on the Billboard 200. When you compare this MV to that of say “Alligator” or “Follow” the differences become apparent. There is no choreography or alternating sets and it must be said that this western approach suits Monsta X like a glove.
Now, its just a waiting game for their upcoming mini-album Fantasia X which was originally scheduled to be released on the 11th of May but has been postponed to May 26. Will this record be an amalgamation of everything they’ve learnt or a return to their visual roots.