Hyuna has had one of the most interesting careers in K-pop. She started out with a very sexual “bad girl” image, but over the last decade, there has been a subtle shift in her public persona. Hyuna has retained the confidence and sexuality of her earlier works, but these qualities are now framed in a more positive, aspirational light. She is no longer a tempting provocateur. Rather, she is simply Hyuna, a woman who happens to be provocative, and this point is made crystal clear in her MV for “Good Girl”.
“Good Girl” is an ode to individuality, visually and lyrically. Throughout the MV, Hyuna is seen with her backup dancers, in outfits that are mostly coordinated. Hyuna, though, always stands out. Sometimes the costuming is blatant, such as wearing black and pink while everyone else is in white. Other times, the effect is achieved by her being the only one in jeans. The truly striking thing is that the styling never makes Hyuna look like the star, nor a rebel. Instead, she looks like someone who read the dress code and decided to ignore it. She did not mean to be the center of attention; that simply occurred as a side effect of Hyuna being Hyuna.
The attitude of incidentally is what truly makes “Good Girl” pop from other self-empowerment anthems. Hyuna is draped in red, with sexual choreography, but it never feels like an attempt to entice the viewer. The red is because that’s Hyuna’s favorite color, the choreography is Hyuna feeling herself and expressing that feeling rather than a seductive endeavor. She may find herself a target of the media, shots volleyed at her, but Hyuna does not court the controversy.
This point is made clear in the lyrics. Hyuna is not advocating for anything. She is not encouraging wild behavior or trying to attract attention. Instead, she is pushing against the idea of being a good girl, specifically, “the good girl everyone likes.” This line sharply illustrates Hyuna’s point. She is warning against being the girl who constantly sublimates her own desires and even her own personality, in order to be well-liked by the people around her. Her main priority is her own happiness and satisfaction. If following those leads to her being labeled a bad girl? She doesn’t get it, but she will wear it, because anything beats being that good girl.
The other thing that makes “Good Girl” stand out among its peers is that Hyuna actually hints at the cost of her choices to be herself, even herself lands her in hot water. While much of the song is Hyuna’s typical bombastic EDM, the pre-chorus and bridge slow it down. This both allows Hyuna to show off her excellent cooing skills, one of her more underutilized abilities, and also highlights the price she pays. She comes off as cold and mean, and she still isn’t free, longing to be like the birds who can simply fly away. As much as she does not care about the opinions of others, being a target, being labeled, and being forced to live under a microscope is still a difficult way to live.
“Good Girl” is the best type of empowerment anthem. Hyuna is honest about herself, her choices, and the price she pays for those without hiding behind platitudes. To her, life as a polarizing, heavily scrutinized figure is easier than hiding behind a bland, milquetoast mask, and Hyuna will not apologize for that.
(Images via P-Nation, YouTube)