Super Junior‘s “The Melody” MV marks the 15th anniversary of the group, an applaudable feat considering the many ordeals they endured, and the scarcity of groups surviving more than ten years in the idol group industry. While one might expect such a milestone to be celebrated grandly, the MV captures a surprising simplicity as it reminisces Super Junior’s past 15 years together with their fans.
Unlike their usual elaborate MVs (think “2YAOYAO!”‘s choreography-centric MV, “SUPER Clap”‘s detailed set designs, and “Lo Siento”‘s eye-catching colours), “The Melody”‘s filming is stripped bare. The members are dressed in dashing suits, at a minimally furnished photoshoot studio, and are singing to the viewer in a majority of frontal shots.
In between these studio clips, there are old footages of Super Junior’s concerts, variety shows and behind the scene moments scattered across the MV. The editing that gels both the past and present clips seems to over-compensate for the simplicity of the present filming by adding in tight, rapid cuts between old footages, accompanied by dizzying doodle animations. The shifting motion that the editing accomplishes is in stark contrast to the steady panning in the photoshoot studio, and while it adds a nice vibrancy to the MV, it can also add a layer of confusion with its lack of focus.
Yet, it is the music that pulls all these elements together, and saves the discordance of the MV’s visuals.
Musically, “The Melody” is relaxed and upbeat, made up of repetitive verses and a catchy whistling hook, which is characteristic of its dance or electronic genre. In this sense, the present photoshoot scenes complement the song as both are simple. While this simplicity prevents the MV from being impactful upfront, it aligns with the lyrics’ theme of comforting nostalgia, which is fleshed out in other aspects of the MV.
The song utilizes the motif of a shared melody to convey the togetherness in this 15-year long journey.
We met with nothing in common
On the night we sang about eternity, not just about a moment
Do you remember the passionate voice?
This song, only you and I know
The melody of the time that was our beginning
The melody represents the beginning of “us”, which can both mean Super Junior and their fans, or between the Super Junior members themselves. In an interview, Donghae shared, “It’s [“The Melody”] a song for E.L.F.” and Kyuhyun shared that “It’s a song for the fans”. At the same time, the lyrics also reflect the members’ journey together, from its depiction of meeting with nothing in common, to the references of the memories shared between them — “Even the world that used to be like a hard training/ Looking back, it’s just a beautiful memory”. Similarly, as much as the MV is a commemorative gift for the fans, the aforementioned MV’s scenes of the past equally center around the members.
The song hence evokes a sense of homely nostalgia with its lyrics, which is further brought out musically through its focus on vocals with many of the members chorusing together in the verses.
At the same time, the motif of the melody is used to represent the group’s hopes of being together as one, and with their fans:
I don’t even know what tomorrow will be like
But if I’m with you, I will sing
With the blue star twinkling in front of my eyes
This song, only you and I know
The song ultimately becomes a meta-melody with its title. The melody is more than just a motif, but with the song itself, and every time it is sung together with fans, memories are relived and hopes of staying together are lived out.
Coming back to the stylization of the MV, the simplicity mentioned earlier, though lacking a punch, effectively fleshes out this homely nostalgia in its sepia tones for the present scenes, reminiscent of an old but warm photograph.
Similarly, while haphazard, the scrapbooking elements of the music video also convey a fan’s perspective of the group’s 15 years as he or she collects these moments bit by bit. While confusing to the general viewer, long-term fans would easily identify the various clips from Super Junior’s history.
Hence, while the MV’s simplicity leaves more to be desired, it successfully commemorates the group’s 15 years in an emotional, yet homely manner, and is a melody that would definitely resonate with fans, and perk the interest of newcomers.
It will be interesting to see what the group’s upcoming tenth full album, The Renaissance would be like, as its elegance and elevated album art style suggest a complete 180 degrees change from the simplicity that the pre-release track brings.