Just in time for the last month of summer, Ha Sungwoon returns with a bright and bubbly music video for “Strawberry Gum,” the title song of his first ever repackage album. 

Fittingly enough for the song title, the music video pops with color. Sungwoon, wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, plays the role of a cocky janitor in love with one of the hotel guests. He primps, he preens, and he nearly falls over himself trying to catch her attention. He sings about how attracted he is to her, declaring:

“My heart swells at the tip of my lips

All I wanna do

All I wanna do

Like I want you

Falling deeper and deeper”

“Strawberry Gum” features rapper Don Mills who joins Sungwoon as a janitor in the music video. Together, the two of them comb their hair in the hotel mirror and gawp after the pretty girl in the elevator as Don Mills raps about how this girl has added excitement to his boring daily life, how he wishes she would stick by his side just like gum. Just like the lyrics, both Don Mills and Sungwoon become excited any moment that the girl walks by.

Other than the vague storyline about Sungwoon following the love interest around, it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a plot to this music video. What keeps the music video from being a typical love song, however, is the way that Sungwoon’s outfits progress throughout the video. He goes from wearing a janitor’s uniform to a clubbing outfit as the scene shifts from day to night, a colorful button down with chains and rings. After that, Sungwoon even dons a black suit and tie as he strides purposefully through the hotel. And finally, Sungwoon takes the stage in front of the crowd in a bedazzled blue suit. 

The changes in outfits match a change in social status. Sungwoon begins in what is typically a looked-down-upon position, a service worker. His love interest seems to be in a notably different social class if her dress and jewelry are any indication, and it could be assumed that Sungwoon needs to advance in his own status before she pays him any attention. However, she doesn’t brush off Sungwoon’s advances just because he’s a janitor. In fact, she even accepts a rose from him.

This significantly muddles the messaging of the music video. It’s worth noting that most of the interactions between Sungwoon and the girl take place while he’s dressed in his janitor garb. When he’s in his snazzier outfits, Sungwoon doesn’t interact much with the girl at all. Instead, he opts for looking into the camera and partying with his crew or performing on stage in front of a seated audience. 

While this leads to a confusing message, the music video is somewhat elevated by the artist in it. Sungwoon, at heart, is a performer, and it shows in every part of this video. Even when he’s a lowly janitor, Sungwoon is constantly sliding and grooving to the song. As he moves to the club setting and then the suits, we see more and more of his musicality come out until he takes his rightful place on the stage. 

The song itself also matches the music video, whether in its slick beats corresponding to the quality of the set or Sungwoon’s incredibly smooth vocals paired with his continual outfit upgrades. Unfortunately, this also means that it lacks any sort of impact. “Strawberry Gum” is funky, yes, and definitely a fun song to jam along to, but there is no recognizable punch that would elevate it from good to great. 

As an artist, Sungwoon has had quite the tumultuous journey. Debuting as a member of Hotshot and then clawing his way to the top during Produce 101 before reaching his current status as soloist, Sungwoon has been through almost every iteration of success. It seems that he’s finally found some form of stability and succeed as a soloist. 

However, that also makes it easy to stagnate. While there’s nothing wrong with either the song or the music video for “Strawberry Gum,” there’s also nothing ambitious about it. The music video plays into familiar tropes and wastes the unique theme of outfit changes when it doesn’t tie it back to a cohesive message. The song is good, but ultimately, just another summer song that pales when compared to other releases. 

Sungwoon has fought through the ups and downs in his career and has both the skills and the perseverance to have succeeded to the degree that he has. “Strawberry Gum” is fine, and the music video is fun to watch, but Sungwoon is capable of much more than this.

(YouTube, Images via Swing Entertainment)