Cinema.” “Movie Star.” 

Five-piece boy group CIX clearly has a thing for songs related to the movie industry. But despite their latest title track “Wave” not having any callback to “cinema” in its name, its MV keeps the group’s cinematic streak alive and thriving. 

“Wave” obviously isn’t about the movies. Instead, it follows a nautical, summery concept, as does the rest of the quintet’s latest and first full-length album, ‘OK’ Prologue: Be OK. The track has an uplifting message perfectly suited for the end of the summer: Better times are ahead; all it takes is getting through the tough ones first. 

Musically, the track follows the hopeful messages embedded in its lyrics with a vibrant, energetic instrumentation filled with the ebb and flow of synths to mimic the rise and fall of “waves.” “Wave” also signals a slight departure from the group’s darker and more sultry previous title tracks, like “Jungle” or “Numb.” Overall, the song presents a much lighter, but still welcome, side to the group. 

Fittingly, the “Wave” MV isn’t without a touch of classic CIX “cinema.” As with most of the group’s previous MVs, eye-catching cinematography, continuously changing color themes, thoughtful styling, and a hint of a narrative to fit with the song’s lyrics (although never too literally) are at the forefront of the “Wave” MV. 

The beginning of the MV immediately signals that “Wave” has a story to it —an astronaut suddenly falls from space and into a warehouse, where members Hyunsuk, Bae Jinyoung, Seunghun, and Yonghee are building a boat that they daydream of sailing away on. Quickly after the astronaut crash lands into their warehouse, the MV cuts to a shot of the aforementioned members peering over BX, who is lying on the ground, so as to imply that he was the astronaut. 

The subtle visual narrative of the MV progresses along naturally in tandem with the song’s lyrics. Throughout the MV, a new setting is introduced with each new verse in between the track’s choruses. In the first set of verses, the members are apparently stuck in the warehouse with their boat, which is a work-in-progress. They’re also pictured playing with a miniature toy boat, driving it across a map as they dream of “setting sail” to get out of their current “rough fate.”

“The underwater is dyed with anxiety
The thing I hold out and do not fall
Obviously I’m not alone, runnin’, runnin’, yeah”

In the next set of verses after the first chorus, the group escapes the dark, dingy warehouse, finally coming up for air on a set featuring a tropical, beach setting and blue skies. The members swap their denim work jumpsuits from the previous scenes for vibrant and colorful outfits suited for the summer season, as the lyrics become more optimistic about “[going] beyond the wave.” 

The lightness and brightness of the colors featured on the beach set and in the members’ outfits embody the growing tinge of hope in the track’s lyrics by this point. They also serve as a prominent contrast to the duller grays and blues featured in the warehouse scenes. Still, those scenes featured plenty of saturated color, a prominent feature across most of CIX’s MVs. 

Color becomes an even bigger player in the MV once “Wave” reaches its bridge. During this part of the track, Bae Jinyoung sings:

“Even the wave of intense dance
Makes me feel so good
No matter it gets hard on me
The sailing will never end”

After the members finally take their boat out on the treacherous seas and set sail at the end of the chorus and post-chorus in a bit of a (playful) struggle, the waves suddenly become still, and everything pauses around the members. As if time is frozen, they each peer out of the boat to look at a pink, purple, blue, and green night sky filled with clusters of tiny twinkling stars. As the stars shine on them and the bridge progresses back into the chorus, a CGI dolphin formed from the sea leaps out of the water, then bursts back into droplets after Yonghee touches it.

The bright hues of the pinks, purples, blues, and greens serve as a visual symbol of hope, very much in line with the lyrics of the bridge. As these colors sit atop a twinkling night sky, they also again contrast the vibrant yellows, light blues, greens, and oranges from the previous daytime tropical set, making for a dreamlike setting that hints that everything happening in the MV might just be an actual dream.

All the way up until the credits of the MV roll and a surprising plot twist is introduced, the MV’s cinematography, lighting, and editing also play an important role in telling the story of “Wave,” even mimicking the movement of waves much like the instrumentation within the track itself.

In true CIX fashion, these elements also serve as narrative devices within their own right. For example, during the warehouse scenes at the beginning of the MV, the darkness and the dullness of the colors in the set are contrasted by a continuously present beam of sunlight directly hitting the camera lens, so as to create a small sunspot in front of the members during close-up and choreography scenes. This hints at the optimism (or so we thought) of the MV that comes as the song progresses and its lyrics become more hopeful.

On top of that, thoughtful editing techniques and camera work match the ebb and flow of the synths, which are meant to mimic the movement of waves. In one particular scene toward the end of the MV, the members’ boat crashes through a wall. The scene begins in slow motion, to match the pace of the song, then speeds up as the song speeds up, almost as if a wave is rising, then crashing.

To top all of these interesting and meaningful visual elements off, the subtle narrative of “Wave” ends in a surprising twist. At the end of the MV, the members sail towards a large rock shrouded in fog. The credits begin, first with the astronaut (BX) from the beginning of the MV dancing for a few seconds, then a cut to an overhead shot of the members peering over a bloody Yonghee lying on an operating table.

As always, CIX keep the cinematic aspect of their MVs and discography alive and well with a surprising plot twist like this one, which hints at lore that could be continued in a future MV. Plus, the quintet is cinematic as ever with thoughtful uses of color, camera work, and editing to expand on the meaning and impact of the music itself.

(YouTube: [1][2][3][4][5]. Lyrics via Genius. Images via C9 Entertainment.)