It may have been a year since SF9’s last musical release, but the members have been active elsewhere: musicals (Inseong in “The Days” and “Red Book”), dramas (most notable are Rowoon, Chani, Dawon, and Hwiyoung), and even a sizzling magazine cover. As a cherry on top, they participated in Mnet’s Kingdom: Legendary War.

While SF9 did not win the competition, the group had stellar performances. Their acting chops became advantageous in their noir interpretation of The Boyz’s “The Stealer”, and their smoldering charisma oozed in their performance of Taemin’s “Move”. Their participation in Kingdom: Legendary War has allowed them to explore their fluidity, which is why their new MV, “Tear Drop”, visually complements their newfound identity.

Right off the bat, the MV is not typically what you see during the summer. Black and white are the dominant colors and there are hints of red in some of the sets. The MV’s color palette fits perfectly with the song’s angsty mood and lyrics as if the boys have lost color following the end of a relationship.

I can feel it in your smile

I can read your mind

I see it coming, Yeah yeah

Pretending I’m ok, pretending I’m cool

Acting like it’s fake

But you and I, we say goodbye

Other than color (or rather the lack of it), what makes the video so visually engaging is their various use of imagery and symbolism. At the beginning of the MV, we see broken shards of glass and pieces of statues. Chani sings in a snow-filled box with a dead tree. Youngbin, Dawon, and Zuho do their solos in a dilapidated room. All these relate to the end of what was once a beautiful relationship.

Moreover, we can see elements relating to tears and dropping. Inseong sprawls on the table with glasses filled with his tears. Taeyang dances on water and then falls over. In one group shot, SF9 is surrounded by big water droplets. The group also makes use of rocks. Rocks are suspended in the room Dawon is in. Crumbled rocks become whole again and move upward through a reverse editing trick. One can conclude that the rocks are SF9’s tears that eventually hardened over time.

SF9 may be crying over their broken relationship, but they also sing of hope in having their own happy ending, which can be seen with their use of flowers. In the second bridge, Jaeyoon holds up a lily while Rowoon ponders over a daffodil. Later in the chorus, Jaeyoon also is encircled with what seem to be white dendrobium orchids. Interestingly, white lilies, daffodils, and dendrobiums all link to either life and rebirth.  (Daffodils are also called narcissus, which is the same name as the Greek mythological character as a reference in “Enough”.) Though they cry, they hope to find happiness once again after losing the one they love.

I’ll write it all over again

Hoping for a happy ending

With my heart’s desire, Yeah yeah

I will be waiting here

I think I shouldNot for long, we say goodbye

“Tear Drop” is said to be the final installment of their “9lory” (read as “glory”) series. Beginning from “Good Guy”, SF9 has been bound and broken by a golden bracelet. This bracelet turns out to be a snake and in line with the solar eclipse, the members turn against each other in “Summer Breeze”. However, in “9loryUS: Epilogue”, Chani sense the presence of the golden snake, which we eventually get to see in “Turn Over: Prologue” and “Tear Drop”.

“Tear Drop” centers around Nordic mythology and references, as seen in runes Inseong drops on the dinner table. Runes are used for divination and each symbol means “journey, ice, humanity, birth”. Another is the serpent, which in Norse mythology, is Jörmungandr. The “Midgard Serpent” is an example of an ouroboros, which is interpreted as a symbol for a neverending cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

In “Turn Over: Prologue”, the golden snake corrupts the Yggdrasil, a tree that also appears in Norse mythology and is supposed to connect nine realms. Towards the end of “Tear Drop”, Inseong finally removes the bracelet which scatters into nine. The tree returns to its original state, but Inseong remains lifeless at its feet. Symbolically, this means giving up what is precious for the greater good. The serpent is finally defeated but at the cost of one’s life. As tragic as it sounds, it mirrors the departure of a loved one to attain happiness but not without experiencing the pain of the one being left behind. We could only hope that there is rebirth as implied by the runes in the MV.

Indeed, “Tear Drop” is SF9 reborn, but the music video is not without some flaws. The camera work is a dizzying experience, and we do not see much of the gorgeous choreography. (The choreography shares the same narrative as the Yggdrasil.) Nevertheless, SF9 seems to have found its visual niche—sophisticated, sleek, and sexy.

(BBC, Bloom & Wild, Interflora, Orchids Info, Two Wander, Youtube [1][2][3]. Lyrics via Genius. Images via FNC Entertainment)