For such a young group, it’s impressive that Cravity have managed to commit themselves to the quite specific motif of cars and motorbikes in two songs. Following on from the, well, memorable chorus of “vroom vrook skrrt skrrt” in “My Turn” (how could one forget), they are back with the similarly automotive “Gas Pedal”. Unfortunately, much like its predecessor, this MV does little to deepen any symbolism that might lie behind these motifs, preferring shallow posturing and bluster instead.
That’s not to call this MV visually poor. There are interesting set pieces and designs at play here. However, the lack of commitment to these, and their similarity to a lot of what has come before with Cravity, ultimately underwhelm.
With a title like “Gas Pedal”, perhaps it is asking too much for the boys to go in any other possible direction with the MV. Far more so than with a title like “My Turn”, this is the MV to go full Fast and Furious, and undoubtedly they do.
Similarly to “My Turn”, the members are styled in motorbike leathers for one of their central choreography sections, while in another their outfits contain sections of hi-vis fluorescent material that you also might find on a biker. Alongside this, there are ample shots pouring over a red bike covered in edgy black writing, which members Allen and Serim rap in front of before a figure is seen speeding off on it into a neon-striped distance.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the obviousness of the choices here: their overt links to the song’s car metaphors in the lyrics could be camp fun. However, there doesn’t seem to be enough of a sense of creativity here for that to be achieved. None of the members seem to go anywhere on a bike, nor are these vehicles ever more than set dressing, an insanely cool prop to fit the song. A strong narrative could have fixed this, but that is never committed to with any real zeal either.
The MV’s clearest attempt to create a storyline comes in its opening moments, where Serim is seen lying on a brightly lit slab in full body armour, with a series of wires connecting him to brain-scanning machines. Over the course of the MV he awakens and crouches upright as he performs, the wires sparking behind him. The opening visual of this is admittedly arresting, reminiscent of the cyber-punk world of Ghost in the Shell. But it never moves on from the brief moments shown—why Serim is like this, what happens after he appears to break free—and so the scene ultimately just stands as a ‘cool’ moment of cosplay.
This reluctance to explore the exciting visuals extends to the backdrops used throughout the MV. As hinted at with Serim’s scene, there is a vague sense of a kind of cyber-futurism running throughout the set design. Early in the MV, Allen introduces us to a dank, narrow alleyway, lit overhead by a dazzling array of neon signs. This narrow street is opened up later, as Jungmo sings on a balcony with a backdrop of brightly lit skyscrapers and floating machines, straight out of Blade Runner. There is a sense of a punkish, dystopian cyber-world here, but it is never explored or used to any great effect.
In the MV’s final moments these skyscrapers are seen disintegrating, but only for literal seconds. Giant crystals also float above Wonjin’s head, but after one brief glimpse, they’re gone. These visual moments are peppered in, but they lead nowhere. This might not be an issue, were it not for how briefly these scenes are cut into the overall sequence. If Cravity are looking to just show arresting visuals, they need more time to breathe than anything is given here.
The reason for the briefness of these scenes may be because the MV seems to lack the confidence to move away from choreography set pieces as its backbone. With as gimmicky a title as this song has, and with similar lyrics (“swerve to the left/right”), it seems as though the choreography is trying to provide a sense of bite that the song itself is missing. The moves are bold and strong, though nothing unusual for this style. The set design is thus what seems to push a sense of ‘in-your-face-bad-ass’ attitude the most. This is largely achieved through two main elements: the neon strip lights, and the heavy, overwhelming use of the colour red.
Neither of these elements is new to Cravity. Neon lighting has been seen in many of their MVs, as has a red, black, and white colour scheme that we can see in “Flame” and “Bad Habits” along with “My Turn”. If this was a newer concept, or a more unusual colour combination, this could be the groundwork for a group signature style. But their use of it has never before been innovative, and is only so here in just how overwhelming it is.
For many of the MVs scenes, the whole set is drenched in deep red lighting. The bike, too, is red, many of the neon lights are red, and the members’ final group outfits are all bold, block scarlet jackets and trousers with white t-shirts and minimal white detailing. It’s certainly noticeable. But again, the reasoning doesn’t seem to amount to much. The song’s lyrics do detail a city “burning up”, a “melting hot” signal, and “red city lights”, but the intensity of the use of the colour across the MV doesn’t seem to match the mood of these lyrics, concerned with speed and heat as they are.
Again, the choice feels obvious and simple, doing nothing to move beyond the image of boy racers who just love cool cars. Hints in the lyrics that the red indicates the heat given off by speed could have been better proven by more actual scenes of speed within the MV. Perhaps faster camera work, or all the members on bikes, if speed is what you’re trying to emphasise. And if it’s heat, there are more ways, even more colours, that can interpret this idea creatively. Even if red is here to symbolise passion or aggression, there needs to be more of substance in the MV to support it.
Ultimately, “Gas Pedal” disappoints in taking many of the same themes from “My Turn” and failing to move them forward in any meaningful way. As the group have only been active for just under a year and a half, the clumsiness of this attempt to stretch out an idea may be forgivable. They certainly have a groundwork from which to build.
If the references to vehicles can become less gimmicky, and their symbolism can be picked apart in more complex, dynamic ways, Cravity may yet find themselves a niche world to carve out as theirs. Much as their label mates Monsta X have shown through their recent gangster criminal MV storylines, specificity isn’t a problem. What is needed is a commitment to exploring the ideas Cravity present fully, and to creating MVs that can illuminate the symbols and aesthetics they choose to use.