Having previously worked with veteran singer Kim Jong-kook with Black Cat Nero, Ateez are back this summer with yet another collaboration. And this time, they are taking it up a notch with a newly composed title track, “Be My Lover”, as part of their album Summer Songs.

Summer is the best time to dive into nostalgia, from SSAK3’s “Beach Again” to MSG Wannabe’s “Foolish Love”. Within the first few seconds, Ateez’s “Be My Lover” too falls into this category. When the song starts off with an infectious saxophone tune, coupled with Jong-kook and Jongho’s light vocals, it deceivingly seems like it will sound fully retro. But familiar hip hop elements, the blaring siren, and Hongjoong and Mingi’s verses bring us back to the present style of music. With a blend of modern and old-school sounds, “Be My Lover” is a track that seeks to be loved by all generations. Likewise, Atinys echo a similar idea when using the hashtag “#1세대_4세대_콜라보” (collaboration between the first and fourth generation) on Twitter.

In this regard, the MV perfectly reflects this cross generational bridge. Though it appears modern at first glance, upon subsequent looks, one may realise that it cleverly balances both modern and old school elements. 

Right off the bat, the most obvious retro-esque factor is its camera angles. The MV adopts characteristics of old school MVs by employing low angle shots for many of the individual and unit shots. Aside from that, upon closer look, its lyrics may strike a chord with longtime K-pop fans. At the heart of “Be My Lover” is a shy but sweet confession, a popular trope from the earlier days of K-pop. As Jongho explains on their show, The Man of Ateez, “I want to go see the sea, I’m going to pick you up and take you to the sea today. I’m going to confess to you and all the things I couldn’t do, I will do it today”. 

You know, I think I love you

I haven’t told you yet

A word in the back of my mind

Similarly, going retro is apparent in the song’s opening rap verse, done entirely in English. For the uninitiated, this is highly reminiscent of hip-hop heavy songs of the first generation like Sechskies’ “Com’ Back”. While this minute detail might fly over one’s head, these familiar elements will certainly ring a bell for the older demographic.


We ATEEZ Collaboration

For all the broken hearts


Likewise, vintage elements emerge through Ateez’s fashion. Yeosang and Wooyoung don basketball jerseys, Yunho a bucket hat, and most of the members are in denim in select shots. At other times, they lean towards retro by adopting parts of a 60s dance move known as “The Swim”, aptly reminding viewers of the song’s Korean title — “Do you want to go see the sea?”. 

Yet, as mentioned, Ateez and Jong-kook choose not to commit to going fully retro. Modern elements are seamlessly incorporated to balance out the retro ones. For one, modern day articles like emojis are expressed visually on screen and are also mentioned in the song’s lyrics. 

What I wrote on the sand behind your name

It was not meaningless

After all that common emoji

On top of that, the inclusion of Tik Tok dances and the clear change in the screen dimension to mimic a Tik Tok video keeps the MV up to date. With what seems like a calculated move, they are hitting two birds with one stone — including it as part of their MV while hinting at their Tik Tok dance challenge. Known for their knife-like choreography, Ateez slow down this dance by deliberately create an easier one where anyone can participate without breaking a sweat. 

Their dedication to their concept is highly commendable. Not only do they showcase this fusion of old and new through their visual and music style, their merchandising is also proof of this. Staying true to their concept, what would have been a usual CD is now a USB in the shape of a cassette. This intentional choice adapts to modernity while paying tribute to an older style of merchandising.  

Piecing it all together, viewers are treated to a rather comedic yet nostalgic MV. While it begins with a foreboding thundering sound with what looks like Jong-kook challenging Jongho to a battle, the narrative later takes a turn. In the first few seconds, Jong-kook physically looks down on Ateez who seem ignorant to the fact that he and Jongho may end up in a feud. Moreover, this potential conflict is heightened as Jong-kook dons a leopard print top to reference his tiger-like persona on Running Man. From the looks of it, it seems as if Jong-kook is going to take Jongho down in under a second. 

But why Jongho of all the members? There is definitely no contention here. He is the youngest, is their main vocalist, and as mentioned on their show, he is two zodiac cycles apart from Jong-kook. Jongho’s role is two fold. He is there to further stress their generational gap while proving that despite that, they still share common ground. In other words, Jongho is the closest parallel to Jong-kook. Accordingly, though it may look like a battle of generations with the significant age gap between Jong-kook and Jongho (and by extension, Ateez), this is quickly shattered in the group shots. 

In order to evoke laughter, they pander to Jong-kook’s on-screen persona. Known as a gym junkie, he comically stays true to this as he watches over Ateez doing arm exercises with eagle-like eyes and a whistle in his mouth. A coincidence or not, funny enough, part of the dance sequence where Jong-kook joins them also resembles a workout routine. 

In a wider scheme of things, Ateez and Jong-kook embody their respective modern and old school elements. But despite their differences in generation and music styles, they gel well together, just like how both the modern and old-school sounds complement one another in “Be My Lover”.

These days, intergenerational collaboration is a rare feat. At times like this, the question of awkwardness may remain at the back of our minds. But not a degree of awkwardness is felt here. While they lament in their lyrics that “[they] may become awkward for a while”, in reality, there is no such thing in Ateez and Jong-kook’s relationship. As much as Ateez open up to Jong-kook, so does he to his juniors. In turn, “Be My Lover” becomes a highly palatable and multigenerational-friendly track. 

(Hello82, YouTube[1][2][3]. Lyrics via Lyrics Kpop. Images via KQ Entertainment.)