The season of the summer anthem is upon us. Bright, light tunes — with creative, bouncy, and often outdoor MVs to match — are getting their yearly moment in the spotlight again.

The latest iteration of this tradition is Oh My Girl’s latest single, “Dun Dun Dance”, which seemingly fits into this summery mould pretty neatly. The setting is largely outdoors, the music is high energy and peppy, and there’s even a CGI spaceship! But, whilst the song celebrates the simplicity of “danc[ing] the long dance as much as you want”, it and the MV both fail to use the full potential that K-pop’s best summer hits reach. The inherent playfulness of the summer vibe seems missing here, leaving the track and MV feeling slight and mildly quirky, rather than anything substantial and truly exciting. 

This lack of overall excitement in the MV is strange, given the promise of its opening moments. The opening shot shows us a rolling green hill, with the members standing around a payphone, wearing bold, bright, mostly sequinned dresses. Jiho picks up said phone, answering in a dial-up tone that is subtitled “dun dun dance”, before all the members casually glance up at a CGI UFO hovering overhead.

This is one hell of a set-up, begging several questions (Why the dial-up tone? Why the phone? Why the spaceship?) and showcasing the most vibrant outfits of the MV — special mention must go to Yooa’s orange, feathered number. Introducing elements like techno-speak and aliens feels like the beginning of a surrealist narrative, but it is one we never get to see. The space imagery pops up at several other moments in the MV, but only serves as set dressing for individual members during their solo segments, such as when Binnie sings perched on top of Saturn in a field.

There are other CGI moments peppered throughout as well; tropical fish surround Hyojung in a cactus garden; antique books and teacups float above Seunghee as she reads, and the same hill that hosts the UFO also gives us a massive grizzly bear. But these moments have no through-line, and are not frequent or visually unique enough to become their own aesthetic, like we saw in Red Velvet’s summer smash “Red Flavor”. You can’t say those girls didn’t commit to the fruit bit. There is no similar overarching theme in “Dun Dun Dance”, making these animated additions feel ultimately pointless without really entertaining. 

This sense of aimlessness is echoed in much of the other stylistic choices of the MV. It’s not that any of these elements are poorly done in any way, but there is little cohesiveness or real experimentation.

The group’s outfits (aside from those that open the MV) are absolutely standard for K-pop girl groups in summer: lots of denim, crop tops, short skirts, pastel colours, gentle ruffles and off-shoulder tops. It’s clear that this is meant to echo the simplistic message of dancing and forgetting troubles that the lyrics espouse: you don’t need to dress up because this is just about fun. But again, this begs the question of why the far brighter, louder and more stand-out pieces were used for the opening scene. Why were girls dressed in such cool shapes and colours if that wasn’t going to lead to anything?

 The locations face a similar issue. The outdoor setting is an obvious choice for summer, suggesting warmth and freshness, but here these settings are mostly simple flower fields, with a dramatic beach only peaking in at the MV’s close.

There are a few indoor moments too: Hyojung in what looks like a Noraebang, and Mimi in an arcade. Again, there is no connection between these moments, and it’s also worth noting how the video showcases the members almost entirely either solo or as a whole group. This furthers the sense of disconnection, as we can’t see much of the members interacting organically: they are mostly only dancing together, or singing alone.

Even the editing, which has fun moments of panoramic fisheye, won’t commit to this exciting style for more than a few moments. If this moment of experimentation had been stretched further, perhaps with more intricate or playful backdrops, the MV could have realised the potential teased so well in its opening moments. 

This reluctance that the MV has to be fully playful, anarchic or even just aesthetically odd, might be slightly disappointing, but it does mirror the musicality of the song itself.

Whilst it might seem slightly unfair to ask too much of a song that literally asks us to “get away from the hectic life and expectations” by “dun dun danc[ing]”, again there is a sense of missed opportunity to play with the sense of freedom this implies. Much as the MV’s outfits mostly don’t dazzle with their boldness, and the locations seem overly simplistic, so too does the musical style of the song seem too formulaic when the lyrics ask us to go “crazy crazy crazy”.

The structure of the song is rock solid in a bland way, even forgoing any kind of introductory build up: we jump straight into the track’s chorus line and instrumentation from the word go. Also similar to the MV, we see flashes in the song that hint at something more, but these turn out to just be flourishes. The literal up-swell belt of the word “high” in the chorus is impressive, and a brief reminder of Oh My Girl’s vocal strength, but it leads nowhere.

Mimi’s rapping in the chorus is another fun moment, changing up the lyrical tempo to layer the song’s rhythms slightly, but without later payoff. There are moments here, but they don’t go anywhere. Perhaps this is an echo of the simple message to just dance and have fun that the song wants to put forward (with the emphasis on “colourful clothes and pretty accessories”), but it underwhelms, especially in the context of girl group summer songs. 

Whilst “Dun Dun Dance” seems to be aiming for success through this sense of ease and lack of complication, the song and the MV both fail to realise the other elements that need to combine with these to make summer songs really soar. As mentioned earlier, “Red Flavor” is a great example of this, taking a similarly innocuous song premise, and adding unique visual aesthetics, as well as special musical touches like a unique bassline and neon-bright synths.

Oh My Girl have shown shades of this themselves, flirting with tropical dance in last year’s “Nonstop”, and stripping back to a wonderfully minimalist, and endlessly catchy hook, in “Dolphin”. These forays into playing with the music are absent in “Dun Dun Dance”, and they needn’t be. Even the song’s title echoes other hits like (G)-Idle’s percussive “Dumdi Dumdi”, but doesn’t seem to take this meaningless title as a chance for rhythmic playfulness that the 2020 hit did.

It can be somewhat forgiven for still giving us the full vocal sound that Oh My Girl can deliver so well, though again, thinking back to their work on songs like “Closer”, with a beautiful use of layered harmony, it still feels like something is missing here.

Summer is the time for songs that splash about with bright colours and inventive, enticing hooks: a wild party that you want to join. “Dun Dun Dance” seems to want to give us this party, but it isn’t willing to turn the music up, let its hair down and really embrace the freedom of the summer months. For a video that opens with an alien spaceship on a hill, and ends with that same spaceship flying back up into the sky, there’s a sense that it Oh My Girl never let us travel with it into full surrealism, kitsch or camp. The girls just want to “Dun Dun Dance”, but the moments in the song and MV that tease how much fun this dance could have been, ultimately leave the song feeling like a warm disappointment, rather than a hot summer hit.

(YouTube. Images via WM Entertainment.)