“If we introduced ourselves as goddesses for our last album, then we have the theme of ‘zombies’ for this album,” Purple Kiss’ Swan says about the group’s first-ever comeback. The ideas of goddesses and zombies are worlds apart, yet Purple Kiss manage to retain their charismatic image while reinventing themselves in a fun, cutesy way. As much as “Ponzoña” was serious, dark, and charismatic, “Zombie” is colourful and humourous while also carrying Purple Kiss’ characteristic edge, complete with punk-like outfits incorporating purple highlights.
Co-written by the group’s main rapper, Yuki and labelmate CyA from ONEWE, “Zombie” depicts a couple chasing each other, and likens this to zombies chasing after people. It might sound like a strange metaphor at first, but the song’s lyrics show the undeniable similarities between love and zombies — for example, “I’m hungry, hungry, I don’t know when I might bite you ya”, “You are the prey, You’re all I see see see” or even “It’s like I’m dancing when I’m running to you” which could be alluding to the zombies’ staggering walk. In the way that a zombie mindlessly chases after its target, the girls chase after their beloved, and “You and I burn up, burn up again, like a fire” (Also, who knew zombies could be this sensual?).
Similarly, in the music video, the girls are depicted as the ones on the hunt, rather than the prey. At the start, the audience might identify them as humans because of their appearance and the humorous instances where they are chased by zombies. But a sharp eye might pick up the hints scattered throughout the MV that suggest they might have been zombies all along — the girls digging into a plate of brains, Dosie‘s eyeball falling out of her socket, and finally at the end when the zombies join in their party.
The MV’s narrative is subtly weaved into the group’s performance and thus makes it fun for viewers to rewatch. The starting scene of Swan swooning over a young man’s picture on her phone comes full circle when the group meets him at the end, putting the narrative scenes into context. As it turns out, the girls were gathering gifts for this man throughout the MV, only to have them unreciprocated. The narrative element thus strengthens the lyrics’ emphasis on the chase; after all, sometimes the process can be fun regardless of the outcome.
Another key element of the MV is duality, as spelt out quite literally by the different words that “Zom-Bie-bie-bie” stands for: brain vs bear, blood vs berry, brain (again) vs beauty, baby vs beaf, and best vs beast. While the kindergarten English lesson seemed jarring from an international viewer’s point of view, these cuts were not entirely out of place as they tied in with the MV’s aesthetic, and were especially in line with its commercial bit. They also served a very overt emphasis on the girls’ duality, presenting them as cute but also edgy.
Sonically, the song is upbeat, catchy ,and always keeps things interesting with its rap breaks and iconic aegyo one-liner, “아깜짝이야!” (Oh, that got me!). A notable difference from “Ponzoña” is its bridge before the final verse. This adds a nice variance to the motif and also leads up to Goeun‘s high note.
While these are no grand new inventions, and are in fact formulaic elements of Kpop, they work brilliantly in “Zombie”, ending the song at a climax and prompting listeners to play the song again. As YouTube commentator Form of Therapy says about “Ponzoña”, “In the music video it feels like a reckoning of like, a woman, but their vocals feel not. … like if they had gone up [in a higher range] just a little more, I feel like it would actually be perfect.” With the inclusion of a higher range, “Zombie” hence showcases Purple Kiss’s vocals better while providing an extra punch, in comparison to “Ponzoña” which lacked climactic high notes.
Ultimately, “Zombie” successfully presents Purple Kiss in a new light, while continuing their powerful and feminine image as hunters, rather than the ones being courted. The MV’s visuals, lyrics, music, and dance tie in cohesively with its cute and edgy concept, together screaming fun. It will be interesting to see how Purple Kiss continue to reinvent themselves while solidifying a core that makes them unique.