In their few years on the scene, Loona have inspired a level of devotion unique even in K-pop. They caught many fans eyes with their unique debut strategy. Others have been drawn to their delightfully diverse discography, or their stunning and stunningly executed choreographies. But if all that isn’t enough to turn you into an Orbit, Loona’s MVs will probably do the trick. Bursting with color and charisma, unified by a sprawling galactic mythology, and increasingly filled with unabashedly feminist undertones, they stand out even amidst K-pop’s many stellar MV offerings.
Loona’s latest release, “Why Not?”, largely lives up to their musical standards. The song and its choreography are simple, yet full of charm. The MV, however, is an uncharacteristically poor outing for the group.
“Why Not?” is filled with striking individual sequences that have nothing in common with each other. In the first minute alone, you see a bedazzled Heejin in a lightning-filled landscape, Choerry upside down in a neon room, Kim Lip surrounded by glowing orbs in a field, JinSoul in a grungy phone booth, and finally a quartet of members dancing in a ransacked super market. Each image feels like the start of a promising MV all its own. Patch them together though, and it’s a mess.
The rest of the MV includes lunar landscapes, retro vibes, and several car-centric shots with aesthetics ranging from punk to flowery. There are also wholesome clips of women from all over the world, a Loona signature. These additions only serve to increase the feeling of purposeless chaos. Pardon the pun, but Loona’s producers said “Why Not?” a few too many times during the making of this MV.
While the visual overload of “Why Not?” is questionable, its true downfall is the lack of tonal consistency. In their previous track, “So What”, Loona also assembled a huge array of elements. In that case though, a spirit of rebellion united all the disparate visuals. The resulting MV was exhilarating, untamed in the best way thanks to its cohesive message.
A case could be made that the crazy variety of “Why Not?” is a reflection of its lyrics’ cheerful call to let loose and follow your instincts:
Everyone, groove it to the rhythm with me
Go with your mood, go with your feelings, why not, do it
If so, it’s not working. The MV for “Why Not?” doesn’t feel like a celebration of freedom or self-realization. It is occasionally joyful, but also alternatively menacing, playful, and mysterious. Each of these auras is compelling, until they are clumsily mushed together. Then they don’t tell a story, any story, much less the “YOLO” story of “Why Not?”.
One of the crucial mistakes “Why Not?” makes is bending over backwards to include all of Loona’s trademark MV flourishes. As a bouncy party track, “Why Not?” is something of a musical outlier for the group. It would have been well-served by an equally untypical Loona MV. Instead, fantasy aspects and global girl power scenes have been forcibly interjected in the name of continuity. This is a disservice to “Why Not?”, and to Loona’s prior superb use of these elements. Moreover, strip away the ungainly additions and suddenly “Why Not?” is looking a lot more organized.
A bright spot of “Why Not?” is how well every member holds her own on screen. The vast majority of the MV is made up of solo or small group sequences, with only a few shots containing all of Loona. This is a risky structure, because if even one member fails to showcase sufficient star power, it will be incredibly obvious.
Luckily for Loona, their ranks are filled with strong individual performers. Each brings their own unique brand of charisma to their scenes. Even members like Vivi and Yeojin, who get comparatively little screen time, leave an impression. This is no small feat, especially amidst the disarray of “Why Not?”. For there not to be a single weak link among 11 people (leader Haseul is currently on a health-related hiatus) bodes very well for Loona’s future.
Indeed, Loona are a group overfilling with talent and potential. “Why Not?” doesn’t change that, but it does highlight some weaknesses in their current approach. Loona’s risk-taking tendencies and flair for the visually dramatic have gotten them far. However, if they can’t adapt and evolve when appropriate, then they won’t be able to go much further.
To be sure, the out-of-control experimentation of “Why Not?” is better than if the group had played it safe. Still, “Why Not?” is dangerously close to sending Loona spiraling down a path of style over substance. A happy medium between inventive imagery and cohesive storytelling should be the goal. This is something the group has achieved before, and will hopefully achieve again. So, stay weird Loona. Just also stay smart.