What does the word campy mean? According to the dictionary, something that is campy is “absurdly exaggerated, artificial, or affected in a usually humorous way”. Camp is a good thing, but in a so bad it’s good kind of way. To be campy is to walk the line between self-aware silliness and cringe-inducing shenanigans and come out on the right side.
For a more vibrant and sensory explanation of camp, look no further than Rain and JYP’s duet “Switch to me”. In the song’s MV, Rain and JYP exaggerate their personas as legendary sex symbol and K-pop’s embarrassing Dad respectively to hilarious effect. Viewers shouldn’t be fooled by the simple goofiness of “Switch to me” though. It takes a lot of brains, talent, and — judging by Rain’s crop-top highlighted abs — time in the gym to make something this perfectly campy.
The MV begins with a passive aggressive showdown between Rain and JYP as they trade barely veiled insults in a bar. When a beautiful woman in a red dress struts in, “Switch to me” starts in earnest as Rain and JYP seek to woo her in increasingly overkill ways. The song’s wildly basic lyrics narrate this process:
I never saw your man (Too good for him)
So I can’t explain it (Too good for him)
But I’m the right one for you
Give me a chance
Please switch to me
Rain and JYP draw on the full power of capitalism to earn their lady love’s affections, rolling out shiny cars, decadent dinners, pool side parties, and even a helicopter. They also apply more sentimental strategies, like in a fun scene where Rain takes the woman on a romantic beach walk, only to be interrupted by JYP on horseback in full prince regalia.
One of the best parts of “Switch to me” is how both Rain and JYP respond to the other’s antics with exaggerated horror. This allows each to serve as an audience stand in, reminding viewers that yes, this is absurd and yes, it is absolutely supposed to be that way. It’s a clever way to constantly reinforce that “Switch to me” is succeeding in its mission to be funny, rather than failing at trying to be cool. Rain in particular gives great reaction face.
Besides the scenes of lovestruck nonsense, “Switch to me” also features a fair number of choreography sequences. This is hardly surprising since both Rain and JYP are famed for their tremendous dancing skills. They are extremely well matched on the dance floor, executing the charming retro choreography of “Switch to me” with effortless finesse.
The throwback vibes of “Switch to me” aren’t confined to its dance routine. The entire song is permeated by retro influences. Rain and JYP mentioned in a recent interview that they were inspired by 80’s and 90’s new jack swing and r&b artists when creating “Switch to me”. It’s easy to see this in the final product, even arguably a bit too easy. It wouldn’t be shocking to see accusations that parts of “Switch to me” are less imitation as a form of flattery and more copying as a form of theft.
That being said, the choice to lean into a vintage style was smart for Rain and JYP. It suits their status as K-pop veterans and further contributes to the air of harmless throwback fun that “Switch to me” gives off. The only real sour note in the MV itself is that, when you think about it, chasing after a woman like she’s a prize is retro in a not particularly cute way.
What is adorable is Rain and JYP’s obvious chemistry. These two have been collaborators and friends for decades and it shows. Their easy camaraderie allows “Switch to me” to reach its peak playful potential.
It is worth noting that “Switch to me” follows hot on the heels of another JYP duet with a former JYP Entertainment label member. That would be JYP and Sunmi’s “When We Disco”, which is just as delightfully kitsch and vintage-themed as “Switch to me”. Could more collaborations be on the horizon? If they are as fun as this, bring them on!
While the dynamic duo of Rain and JYP dominates the MV for “Switch to me”, Psy is a great third wheel. He turns up in a last minute cameo to sweep Rain and JYP’s conquest away. It’s a laugh-out-loud finish for “Switch to me”, as well as a reminder of JYP and Psy’s upcoming audition show collaboration.
2020 has been a year full of unprecedented difficulties. As hopeful as the arrival of a new year can feel, a change in calendars won’t magically erase the challenges we face. In this tough time, “Switch to me” seems tailor-made to give people a light-hearted break, even if only for a handful of seconds. It is truly ridiculous and that’s a compliment. So, check out “Switch to me” and have a couple of giggles. Goodness knows, there are worse ways to kick off 2021 than with a dose of charming camp.
(Merriam Webster, Naver, YouTube. Lyrics via YouTube. Images via RAIN Company, JYP Entertainment)