The four women of Mamamoo have always forged their own path. In 2014 they debuted with the cool, quirky, retro number “Mr. Ambiguous”, before progressing to the sly, stuttering bombast of 2019’s “HIP” via the sultry Latin-influenced rhythms of “Egotistic”. With their vivid vocal colour and carefree confidence, the group from RBW Entertainment have served a succession of hits across a genre-shifting kaleidoscope of sounds.
Over the past year, each member has stepped out to explore her own solo identity, from the bold visuals and raw lyrics of Hwasa’s heartfelt anthem “Maria” to the gorgeous retro melody of “water color” by Wheein. Now Mamamoo have reunited for their eleventh mini-album WAW. The title track unspools that acronym into a soaring ballad that showcases the quartet’s strength as vocalists.
The song begins with soft piano and Hwasa’s husky voice, before unfurling into a sweeping cascade of harmonies. The melody ebbs and flows, following the pull of Mamamoo’s combined vocal power. “Where Are We Now” is a bittersweet love story on the surface, but the lyrics build a narrative that deepens into an exploration of the group’s collective journey. The album is a mix of ballads that celebrate their artistic evolution across the past seven years. In the WAW Spoiler Film released on YouTube ahead of their comeback, leader Solar shared that “Where Are We Now” paints Mamamoo’s past and future, shaping a story they hope fans can identify with.
Like the song, the MV is a work of elegant simplicity and creative depth. The first scene finds Hwasa sitting pensively in a dimly-lit bathtub. A handful of delicate flowers drift across the surface of the water, and the room is a haze of dreamy blue. As she sings of her scattered memories – some shining, others dark – it feels like a moment of calm in the wake of the storm, a quiet chance to reflect on lessons learnt and new adventures to be found.
The MV’s main group scene depicts the four women hanging out together around a white RV. They’ve set up camp in a forest clearing, dappled with the kind of warm, sepia-tinted sunlight that evokes Polaroid snapshots of half-forgotten summer days. The battered vehicle and quaint setting paint a charming narrative, suggesting that this is Mamamoo’s metaphorical vacation spot, the tranquil hideout they’ve found after traversing the highs and lows of idol life.
The muted colours of the gentle scene are echoed throughout the MV, in the pastel hues of the records and scattered notebooks that surround Wheein – a visual diary of Mamamoo’s career in music – and the faded denim and white dresses the members wear. In their sunlit clearing, Mamamoo pair trainers and jeans with casual T-shirts, before transitioning into ethereal white gowns for the second verse. Their natural make-up and classic style echo the evocative intimacy of the lyrics, and the understated beauty of the song itself.
As their style is elevated during the second verse, so too is the backdrop, as night falls and the members find themselves in a fairy-tale forest, washed by the silvery glow of a vast full moon. These dreamlike pastoral settings and the soft colour palette serve to foreground Mamamoo’s talent, and mirror the pure soundscape created by their vocal harmony.
The lyrics craft a poignant narrative of their time together as a group:
On and On
We’re on the road
We came all this way breathlessly
Everything we did together
Was like a great drama
Know know know we know
Where’s the end? Do we even have an end?
Like breathing, we were connected
Where Are We Now
Just as these words narrate their highs and lows together, some scenes are painted in shades of doubt. Moonbyul stands on a stark concrete bridge to perform her rap verse, overlooking the train tracks below that fade into the distance. This visual suggests Mamamoo are standing in a moment of transition, reflecting on their past and future as they wonder where to go from here. Wheein walks along an empty road, following the light of the moon. Just as she travels by night, and the sky above Moonbyul is grey and overcast, Hwasa’s bathroom in the first verse is darkened and filled with a cool sense of melancholy. These scenes capture the members in moments of soul-searching, before they make their next move.
But other spaces are filled with warmth. As the first chorus blooms, a flush of morning light filters into Hwasa’s bathroom, signifying a dawning moment of understanding. Just before the song segues into the second chorus, she stands on a rooftop, gazing up at the sky. A flock of birds fly overhead and soar away into the distance, perhaps evoking the way the group are looking into the future, before they step forwards to explore fresh sonic frontiers.
These settings also highlight Mamamoo’s unity as a team. From sunny shots of the members relaxing together in their forest camp, to the flickering fire they gather around as “Where Are We Now” reaches its zenith, they ponder the song’s central question together to find clarity.
Just as the final chorus hits, a dazzling lattice of spotlights flood the forest with light. The peaceful clearing where the members gathered to relax and dream at the start of the song has been transformed into their stage. It’s a stunning moment that showcases the members’ collective vocal harmony. Mamamoo have carved out their place in Seoul’s music industry, and this, they seem to say, is where they intend to stay.
The MV closes with a final shot of the four women sitting side by side on the roof of the RV. They snack on ice cream and chat as the credits roll, in a simple, candid snapshot of the creative partnership – and friendship – that has blossomed between them over the past seven years.
The song title and lyrics pose a question, but as the MV for “Where Are We Now” unspools across the screen, these visual moments come together in a beautiful collage of imagery that seems to answer it. During their time together, Mamamoo have found themselves as a vocal unit, and they stand poised to shape new soundscapes and realise more dreams together.