Former Iz One and Ye-A member Kwon Eun-bi is back to “Open” another “Door” for herself (pun intended) — only this time, as a solo artist.
After the disbandment of Iz One, formed on the MNet reality program Produce 48 in 2018, earlier this year, the future of the group’s 12 members remained uncertain. As each ex-member returned to their respective agencies, or moved onto new ones, the question of who would be the first to turn their Iz One-induced popularity into a solo career lingered.
Luckily, at the beginning of this month, fans’ curiosities were qualmed when Woollim Entertainment confirmed that Eun-bi would be making her solo debut with the title track “Door” and EP Open, making the former Iz One leader the first out of her fellow members to go solo.
Now technically on her third “debut,” the chance to be a solo artist has been a long time coming for Eun-bi. Unsurprisingly, “Door” and its MV look and sound more like a comeback than a debut, especially given Eun-bi’s now several years of experience and status as an all-rounder in vocals, dancing, and visuals during her Iz One days.
“Door,” which is an electro jazz-swing track that takes a hint of inspiration from musicals and perhaps even cabaret, is already a strong indicator of Eun-bi’s ability to traverse musical genres (which she also showcases throughout Open) and hold her ground without the usual 11 other members by her side.
Eun-bi’s appearance as an already-seasoned soloist by way of “Door” is undoubtedly bolstered by the song’s MV, which is high-class (and high budget), jazzy opulence at its finest. Inspired in part by Alice in Wonderland and musicals, as mentioned by Eun-bi herself during the online showcase for her EP release, the MV has both a dazzling and luxe feel to it that sucks viewers in enough to make them forget that this is, in fact, only a debut song.
The MV’s inspiration from Alice in Wonderland and musicals makes itself known from the very beginning. As the song kicks off with a collection of vintage-sounding, jazzy horns that carry throughout the entirety of “Door,” shots of Eun-bi gazing into the camera while wearing a bejeweled pair of white rabbit ears and sitting amidst a garden of pink flowers are interspersed between scenes of her dancing in a bedazzled silver dress with a crew of white-clad background dancers on a circular stage surrounded by bright green grass.
The first two sets have some degree of contrast to one another: the first appears to be somewhat of a fantasy while the second looks like a stage built for a musical. Similarly to these, each new set that follows is made to appear either as a dream or another stage within a live musical performance. For example, at the beginning of the MV, Eun-bi sits in a bedroom stage set, appearing to be too large for the room and the furniture (which is scaled down in size) within it.
Unable to even stand up all the way, she peers outside the door of the room with a look of curiosity. In the next few shots, she is then captured walking up and down red, velvet stairs within a pale green hallway and in and out of doors that take her to uncharted territory. During one scene in particular, she opens a set of doors to a beautiful, fantastical pasture filled with CGI butterflies that flutter around her as she sings the chorus:
“Don’t know our relationship, wrapped more in senses
You and I gradually come across each other’s time
When closing two eyes, in the place shown to me (Ayy)
Just stay right by my side
With each new room and dreamlike set that Eun-bi encounters, each also becomes more extravagant and mesmerizing than the previous. Later in the MV, Eun-bi evidently leaves the mundane house set she was stuck in previously to walk a red carpet while wearing an almost blinding sparkling gold dress. She then hops on a sparkly pink plane to ultimately arrive at what looks like the finale stage of a full-on musical production.
Aside from these “doors” opening to new worlds throughout the MV — a very literal interpretation of the song’s lyrics — they’re also a representation of Eun-bi herself “opening the door to a new space where [she] can show the new Kwon Eun-bi to audiences,” as she stated during her online showcase. Perhaps the “Door” MV is a symbol of Eun-bi’s journey to arrive at her solo career, and of what’s to come. Some fans have even taken notice that a few of the MV’s sets, including the flower field and stage with the dancers, look similar to the sets in Iz One’s “Violetta” and “Panorama” MVs respectively.
“Door” isn’t just mesmerizing for its sets and clever incorporation of curious, Alice in Wonderland-like elements as an interpretation of its lyrics, which more literally discuss the exploration of a new and possibly secretive romantic relationship. Other eye-catching aspects also bring out the dazzle and splendor of the MV quite literally, including Eun-bi’s wardrobe and styling and the lighting and camera techniques used to make her and her outfits sparkle and shine.
A warm stage light is used to reflect light off the sparkles of Eunbi’s outfits, rhinestone-accented nails, and rabbit ear crown to make them dazzle even more, particularly during the choreography scenes where Eun-bi is wearing a silver, bedazzled mini-dress and matching shoes, and later, when she is wearing a bedazzled black-and-gold dress and gold shoes. The effect is almost hypnotizing, emphasizing and maintaining the surreal feeling that carries throughout the MV.
What’s even more hypnotizing is the song’s choreography, which takes a page out of any musical’s, and perhaps even a cabaret performance’s, book. Eun-bi and her backup dancers nail the big showy musical aesthetic, all while portraying a cheeky kind of seductiveness to match with the swing genre and vintage nostalgia of the track.
In one particular scene, Eun-bi’s backup dancers surround her in a circle, lifting her up into the air to push and hold her into various poses, from standing to sitting, all back-to-back. It’s the kind of flashy choreography that viewers might expect to find in an older Broadway musical scene. At the same time, in other pieces of the choreography, Eun-bi brings a modern flare to the swing dance genre, contrasting slower rotating hip movements with the sharper, pointed hip moves most reminiscent of typical swing dancing.
With all of these elements combined, Eun-bi brings something both old and new, and all around dazzling, to the table in just over three minutes — and in just a debut MV. While the now-soloist has been in the K-pop game for quite some time now, “Door” is a tell-tale sign that perhaps there are more doors that are soon to open (pun intended again) down the line in Eun-bi’s career. Whether that’s a path to total solo super stardom or an entryway to another Alice in Wonderland-like maze of curiosity, only time will tell.