Released on January 19, 2021, Chungha‘s MV of “X (걸어온 길에 꽃밭 따윈 없었죠)” (“No flowers on the path I’ve taken”) marks the final pre-release before her first full album, “QUERENCIA” which releases on February 15, 2021. The MV marks a significant milestone for Chungha not just because it signals the arrival of her full album’s release, but also because it is her first MV released after she tested positive for COVID-19 and subsequently recovered — all in the span of December last year.

The MV follows the three other pre-releases that have started as early as April last year. The album is marketed as having four “sides”, with each side containing four to five tracks that share a similar theme and musical style.

As written in Chungha’s official YouTube channel:

The upcoming studio album is composed of chapters crafted with various musical styles and themes for each of the tracks. Each of the chapters has representative title tracks, which will be cut as singles one by one in order.

“X” hence reveals (or at least hints at) what the third side of the album, “SIDE D: Pleasures” is like, leaving only “SIDE A: Noble” to be revealed with the release of the full album.

In the previous three pre-releases, fans were treated to diverse sides of Chungha’s musicality and performance, as well as different styles of MVs. “Stay Tonight” featured an extravagant Broadway-style MV in a house genre and “Dream of You” likewise featured an electronic track in a dance-centric MV; both tracks as part of the album’s “SIDE B: Savage”. Meanwhile, “Play”, a colourful and festive Latin pop song infused with reggaeton, hinted that “SIDE C: Unknown” would showcase songs that are upbeat and vibrant.

In contrast to its predecessors of pre-releases, “X” is a sombre and heartfelt rock ballad clad in a greyscale MV that can be best described as a CGI’ed box MV. While the aforementioned MVs choose to focus on dance and elaborate sets, “X”‘s MV uses its simple backdrop to convey a story that complements the song’s lyrics.

Visually, viewers are instantly cued by Chungha’s skyscraper physique in the midst of a concrete jungle to think of King Kong and the likes, and even more so when helicopters, explosives and tanks start surrounding her. Unlike the chaotic and gory scenes in such movies, the helicopters dance in graceful circles around Chungha, the explosives resemble fireworks, and Chungha dances languidly with all these as her backdrop.

The symbolism is clear, as the lyrics describe people leaving her (“when the whole world leaves me”) and the hardships she faced (“No flowers on the path I’ve taken”), likening her to any monstrous figure, an enemy to the world. The MV carefully conveys this symbolism while maintaining coherence with the song’s slow pacing and relaxed mood by portraying the military defence mechanisms as a rhythmic backdrop to Chungha’s dancing.

Chungha explains the title of “X” as the following:

This song seems to talk about people who were awful to you before and people who are nice now. … “X” could refer to your boyfriend or “X” could refer to your girlfriend. Or it could be the stories of your past. Your old stories. So it could mean that moments of the past made you who you are today.

The multiple meanings that the title holds gives listeners freedom for interpretation. In the MV, “X” may represent the latter — the past Chungha that brought her to where she is today. At the mid-point of the MV, there is a large explosion from the tanks attacking Chungha that reverberates over the whole city, leaving everyone dead. Chungha picks up a crumpled figure, and while it is not clear in the MV, the “B-HAind” video confirms that this figure is Chungha herself in a much tinier, vulnerable form.

Unexpectedly, Chungha disregards this figure by offhandedly dropping her to the ground. It is perhaps significant that the explosion marks a shift in the MV’s colours, with Chungha now being the only person in colour, and the city in a deep dull green. Such changes, coupled with the crumpled tiny Chungha, suggest new life, or new birth; the victory of giant Chungha who withstood the attacks, and the death of her past self who was vulnerable.

As such, the MV reinforces the song’s lyrics about empowerment — “You should’ve loved me at my worst / Now you just watch me on your TV screen.” It marks a progression from the past, when people abandoned Chungha during her struggles, to now, when she has reached success and she has elevated in status above them.

In fact, as this song was composed by Black Skirts after hearing about Chungha’s struggle to success through Produce 101, “X” ultimately conveys a heartfelt pain from difficulties that listeners will be able to relate to, while verbalizing an empowering motif for fans to sing when they feel rejected by people. The rock ballad nature of the song also makes it relaxing and satisfying to listen to, while conveying the sadness behind Chungha’s story.

“X” also hints that fans can expect a mellower but characteristic powerful side of Chungha in the album’s “SIDE D: Pleasures” songs. It will be interesting to see how such mellower songs will fit in to the word “Pleasures”. Nonetheless, listeners can only speculate in the meantime and patiently wait for the full album in February.

(Youtube: [1][2][3][4], MNH Entertainment [1][2], Images via MNH Entertainment.)