Only three months after their last comeback, AB6IX returns with the repacked issue of their November EP titled Salute: A New Hope, featuring lead single “Stay Young”. As implied by the song title, the track revolves around the excitement and volatility of youth and how to preserve these sentiments. The song is built around a drum heavy, orchestral percussion and infused with electronic elements. A majestic pre-chorus, in which the vocalists flaunt their high timbres, flows into a sweet chorus.
It would be an understatement to claim that AB6IX have been working diligently since their debut in April 2019. The group has rolled out a bunch of releases including one studio album and three EPs with diverse concepts and musical styles. For the anthemic “Salute” for instance, which is built on a loud percussion and a marching drum beat, the group chose a military inspired concept for the MV and performances.
For “Stay Young”, AB6IX takes a different approach with a choreography-heavy MV, that is youthful and uplifting, yet retains a bittersweet undertone. Despite being reasonable choices for a repackaged album, the song and MV are ultimately underwhelming and fail to make use of the group’s potential, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be bad thing.
The main setting of the MV is an amusement park with all of its facilities. Each member initially starts off at different spots alone, but remains continuously in movement. This culminates in an encounter between all members at the end of the MV as they cross paths. In their reclusive scenes, they reflect on the past and the transcience of moments. The loneliness of Daehwi for example, is expressed through a touching scene in which he chats and laughs with Woojin, only for the latter to suddenly disintegrate into air. Emotional and sad expressions on the members’ faces in a myriad of close-up shots further serve to convey this sentiment.
Symbolically loaded moreover is Woojin’s walk through a crowd of people, who are all dressed in monotone colors and move through the motions of life at the speed of light. It is only Woojin standing in the center, dressed in a colorful outfit, who perceives the volatility of life and youth. This is analogically echoed in the lyrics:
People walking on the street
Are busy like a dust
They are all laughing outwardly
But in fact they are frightened
The theme of loneliness is frequently recurring throughout the MV. The amusement park, which serves as the setting, is deserted despite the running attractions and bright, colorful lights. Elsewhere, Woong can be seen walking through the empty park while Donghyun is standing in front of a closed attraction. The absence of any other human creates a sense of powerlessness and void, the members endeavor to overcome.
The members are eventually able to trascend this isolation in a moving and sweet manner: they find each other and celebrate. This reunion is given the character of a journey and bursting with symbolism; the members meeting in the amusement park, dancing and enjoying each other’s company clearly signifies their group dynamics and close friendship. Going further, they walk through the ruins of a destroyed city and a flower blooms in Woong’s hand. The symbolic meaning of flowers is rich and amongst them are hope and rebirth, a connotation that seems quite adequate here. The flower implies a new chapter, in which the members move forward in company of each other.
Snow constitutes another prominent theme in the MV, that carries particular significance in the final scene. The members are having fun together, when snow starts to fall. Snow usually emblematizes hardship and transformation and in that sense most likely indicates the group’s overcoming of their struggles (member Youngmin departed the group after a DUI incident last year) in addition to their decision to start anew by embracing the unpredictability of life. The MV is devoid of any bright colors and opts for a muted palette with light tones like white and nuances of brown that is reminiscent of Instagram filters. This adds a nostalgic and warm feel to the video’s ambiance.
However, both the MV and song have their fair share of flaws. The MV lacks coherence and requires some serious reading between the lights in order to recognize the hidden symbolism. Instead of the heavy focus on dance scenes, there could have been more elaboration on the storyline to enable viewers to grasp the overall message better. Additionally, the change of setting from an amusement park to an dystopian city background comes off as a bit arbitrary.
The song’s biggest weakness is the lack of a strong chorus. The build-up from the orchestral pre-chorus amps listeners’ expectations for a fuller effect, which unfortunately remains absent here. The production fails to capitalize on a magnificent first half, causing the track to ultimately fall flat and feel incomplete.
Still, with “Stay Young” AB6IX primarily seems to have aimed for a personal and profound release to reaffirm their friendship and their maturity. Despite being less then two years old, the group has already tackled diverse concepts with splendid results. Therefore, the timing to go a little bit lighter with this track seems to be just about right. Here is to hoping that AB6IX’s next release will be a notable upgrade.