As a Hyoyeon-biased SNSD fan, when I first heard that she was going to be releasing a single as Hyo for the first time since 2019’s “Badster”, fresh off her stint on Mnet’s Good Girl, I was thrilled. When I saw the first teaser pictures featuring her new style, I was ecstatic. And, of course, the cherry on top for me would be learning that the song was to feature (G)I-DLE’s Soyeon, an artist for whom featuring on SM songs has become a yearly pastime. Adding Loopy into the mix as another feature, I knew that this would be a release that would deliver— and deliver it did. “Dessert” is an MV which stands out from the SM crowd with its grungy, industrial settings and distinct colour palette, effectively showcasing Hyo’s signature high-quality dance performances.
Despite the song’s title, there are surprisingly few desserts featured in the MV. A few of them appear at the beginning of the MV, where Soyeon “licks” a jewel-studded donut, but most desserts are found during Hyo’s rap section in the middle of the song. The appearance of desserts in the MV generally correlate with the song’s lyrics which are also directly related to food or eating. For example, Soyeon starts her verse by naming a variety of different desserts:
Chocolate, candy, fruit, honey, butter, waffle and
marshmallow, mango juice I eat them up easily
Hyo also uses dessert in general, as well as cake, metaphorically in her verse, but in a way that allows the word to remain close to its original meaning:
On the tip of my twisted tongue
I want the sweet you
My dessert that will melt away
I chose you…
Some more cake in my hands.
The fact that the desserts featured in the MV during these scenes are jewel-studded relates to the other metaphorical meaning of “dessert” which Hyo plays with during the song. Although what exactly “dessert” refers to is left fairly ambiguous, the rhetorical question which forms the basis of the song’s hook “You know what I deserve? Dessert!” indicates that “dessert” represents some kind of due reward. Fittingly, in English, the phrase “just desserts” is homonymous with “just deserts”, a saying which means to get an appropriate and/or deserving reward or punishment.
This could perhaps be referring to the reward which Hyo feels she deserves after working hard in the K-pop industry every day for years as a member of Girls’ Generation. Despite being the main dancer in the group, Hyo was often pushed to the sidelines, and also suffered criticism for her looks. Even if this experience, in particular, is not what Hyo is referencing, she still believes that she deserves more than what she gets, most likely based on the fact that she works very hard:
24 hours is not enough everyday
No time to spare at all
As part of the legendary Girls’ Generation, and no doubt by her own merit as well, Hyo deserves to be called a queen— something which she herself references by namedropping the last queen of France, Marie Antoinette, in the pre-choruses. (Of course, the reason for namedropping Antoinette specifically is also likely due to the phrase “Let them eat cake” being commonly attributed to her.) The jewel-studded desserts therefore also relate to this image of royalty, as well as to the idea that Hyo is enough of a queen to own desserts that are display-only, and are made to be admired— much like Hyo herself when she performs onstage.
The rap bridge is also the part of the MV which features the softest colours, acting as a visual reprieve for the rest of the MV’s duller colours, much as the bridge itself acts as a relatively gentle landing for the listener after the harshly electronic (and fantastic) dance break.
Unlike many K-pop MVs which focus on brightly saturated colours, the colours in this MV tend to be a bit harsher, as well as a bit duller, as there are a lot of grey and brown shades throughout. For example, Soyeon and Hyo’s first verse and pre-chorus scenes seem to be set in and in front of buildings coloured with a greenish-grey tint. Hyo’s rapping scenes with Loopy inside what seems to be an empty warehouse of some kind also contains a lot of light brown and beige.
Blue and green are also major colours featured throughout the MV, and are especially used for lighting— once again, the combination of these colours are not frequently used in many other K-pop MVs, due to their clashing effect. However, they work well with Hyo’s jarring EDM chorus— and that is “jarring” in the best way.
During the dance scenes, the set is primarily made up of blue and green coloured set pieces and lights. Hyo’s dance break is lit entirely by disorienting flashes of blue light. Green laser lights surround Soyeon during her second verse after Hyo’s rap break, and blue laser lights do the same with Hyo in the final chorus of the song. These flashing lights give Hyo and co.’s dance performances an extra edge and turn the inside of a grimy warehouse into a perfect place for a rave.
The video overall has a very industrial feel to it. Many of its scenes seem to be set inside warehouses or, in the case of Hyo’s pre-chorus, outside of an abandoned building. The dance scenes also seem to take place in what appears to be an auto repair shop, occasionally with sparks flying. The MV also features so many cars that it would almost be easier to point out the scenes which don’t contain one— namely, a few of Loopy’s rapping shots, Hyo’s rap scene, and a few shots in her second pre-chorus.
In contrast to many other K-pop MVs, however, the cars featured aren’t sleek, top-of-the-line models— in fact, most of them are old and crushed, while the functioning ones appear to be pickup trucks. When combining this industrial vibe created by the setting with the aforementioned effects of colour, the MV is given a relatively grungy style, which is only enhanced through the addition of grainy 35mm film-style editing effects.
Overall, “Dessert” is delicious, and is definitely a triumph for Hyo, especially sonically— she of course has composing credits in the song, and it is truly one of her best releases yet as HYO. The MV, however, while managing to differentiate itself from most of SM’s releases through its grittiness, as well as having its occasional quirks (I’m still not over those pickup trucks), isn’t incredibly impactful or outstanding overall.
That’s not to say it isn’t a job well done— the grungy and industrial style, combined with the occasional scenes featuring desserts, brings home the straightforward message of the song in a straightforward (and explosive) manner. The dancing is one of the highlights of the MV, and the fact that all three artists managed to appear in the video is a bonus. One thing is for sure: Hyo, Soyeon, and Loopy have managed to combine their talents to serve us all a real treat.
(YouTube. Images via SM Entertainment.)