With new K-pop groups popping up seemingly month after month, and older groups coming back into the fold to create a busier comeback schedule than ever, the industry’s ever-growing landscape can feel muddled, if not repetitive at times. For boy group VeriVery, who debuted at the beginning of 2019, that crowded playing field has often stood in the way of their potential for explosive success, resulting in an underrated discography that many K-pop listeners likely still have yet to discover. Luckily, with their latest comeback and single, “O,” it may finally be the 7-member group’s time to shine.
For the last couple of years, the sought after sound for boy group title tracks, especially fourth generation boy groups, has become fairly predictable. Most, including VeriVery on their previous title tracks, opt for intense, booming, and electronic-based dance numbers. While there are several trends that have stuck around in K-pop as of late that have helped to push groups out of their comfort zone or even find their signature sound, like the incorporation of disco and pop-rock influences, their reach can only extend so far.
That is all the more reason why VeriVery’s “O” is so unexpected, but all the more powerful. An intensely subdued, practically bottled-up R&B number like this one is hardly ever the choice for a boy group title track. However, “O” proves there is promise in a genre switch-up, and an often undervalued genre at that.
The new track comes from the single album Series ‘O’ [Round 0: Who] and serves as a prequel of sorts to VeriVery’s previous Series ‘O’ albums. As part of their ongoing storyline, the single delves into a narrative that follows the boys as they navigate feelings of emptiness and loneliness that take shape during a rocky and volatile time in their lives that then forces them to mature quickly — much like the process of navigating becoming an idol in real life.
Surprisingly, the song’s MV appears to explore those themes and feelings more literally, as is not frequently the case with most of VeriVery’s other title track MVs. The MV for “Trigger,” the group’s last comeback, is as abstract and visually complex as it is intense, and leans into that intensity to ensure its impact. While it’s not entirely obvious how the MV for “O” connects to “Trigger” or others, it ventures down a completely different path and instead features a narrative and visual elements that are more easily digestible and restrained, much like the sound of the track itself.
The restraint of the track’s vocals, chorus, and production seep into its overall mood, as well as how one might at first expect the MV to play out. As a lone, sultry guitar riff kicks off the song, the MV opens on a shot of the members in what appears to be the aftermath of a car accident. Dongheon lies on the dark, purple-illuminated ground in an outline of his body, while Gyeheon sits atop the car and Kangmin sits behind the wheel, a look of guilt strewn across his face. While it’s clear that the night has taken a turn for the worst, the sexy, sultry undertones of the MV are still undeniable from the get-go.
As this is Verivery’s first official venture into a more mature ‘bad boy’ concept, it’s easy for some elements in the MV to at first come off as gimmicky or forced in order to match the sultriness of the song. Some of the members are dressed in dark leather while others are dressed in very adult suit getups. In one scene, Minchan sits slumped in the corner of a dark, dingy bathroom. Later, Gyeheon lights a matchstick that delicately sits between Minchan’s lips, mimicking the image of lighting a cigarette. There are some scenes of implied drinking, and even one in which Gyeheon swipes a container of pills away from a distraught Minchan.
However, when these at-times surprising visual elements of the MV’s narrative are paired with the track’s serious and grounded lyrics, they become less harsh and feel less contrived. “O” is loaded with metaphors that sincerely relay very real and palpable feelings of despair and emptiness that many can relate to, creating a song within which the risk of portraying these mature images and concepts pays off:
I woke up in the rain
Cold raindrops seeping into my delicate heart
I throw myself into the darkness swelling up like a bruise
The missing puzzle pieces are nowhere
Who am I, I ask myself this question yet again
All I’m filled with is a deficiency
And I run until my lungs explode, oh, no, yeah, yeah
On top of that, the choreography scenes are also worth noting for how they fit the mood of the MV. While they can also at first come off as overtly sexy and not entirely paired with the lyrics of the song, they do match the track well in terms of restraint. As the instrumentals and vocals in the track’s verses and pre-chorus are already fairly tempered, the movements in the choreography perfectly follow suit with slower, smooth body rolls. Even when the chorus hits, which usually calls for punchier, more powerful movements, the members’ movements remain confined. This emphasizes the suffocating feelings hinted at by the track’s lyrics, as the choreography never overextends its reach past the bounds created by the music.
The MV also comes off as striking yet still muted in terms of its coloring. Throughout the MV, there are rarely any harsh, bright lights, except for in one of the choreography stages in which the members dance under bright fluorescent tiles. Other than that, the remaining shots and close-ups of the members are illuminated only by muted, colored lights. Warm reds and yellows contrast cooler greens, blues, and purples, sometimes within the same scene. This emphasizes the back-and forth, hot and cold of the emotions the members sing of throughout “O.” It also serves to make the MV more visually compelling without any heavy CGI or complex cinematographic moments.
Strengths aside, there are still moments where the MV feels almost too underwhelming for what “O” is meant to convey. The end of the MV takes an interesting turn, with the members celebrating at a party and jumping up and down together while smiling and laughing. It’s a stark and almost inexplicable contrast to the beginning of the MV, which saw the members distraught and struggling. This may indicate that the order that narrative in the MV is portrayed is actually backwards, so that the end of the MV is actually what transpires prior to what is shown at the beginning. Instead, the beginning of the MV is the aftermath and therefore the end of the story.
These final scenes of the members celebrating together under the rain, or rather burst fire sprinkler, would have also had a more long-lasting impact had there been one last choreography scene interspersed amongst these images. Oftentimes rain in MVs signals clarity, and the visual of the members dancing under the rain would have made the last scenes of the MV all the more hard-hitting and extraordinary.
VeriVery’s “O” is certainly a risk of sorts, both compared to the group’s own discography and to K-pop’s current trends. But risks are often worthwhile, and in this case, “O” is one worth taking. Both the MV and song itself are unlike anything any other group has released as of late, which is surely enough to put them on the map on a bigger scale. But it’s their execution and affinity for unique concepts like this one that indicates their promise, and perhaps a new trend they’ve set for other groups to soon follow.