Femme fatales. Grinning zombies. And now hypnotizing witches.
Fourth gen rising stars Purple Kiss have established their creative edge on the girl crush concept ever since their debut last March with the ominous “Ponzona.” RBW Entertainment‘s newest girl group then routed their dark narrative onto an unexpected path of humor in their “Zombie” MV, balancing their undead concept with a refreshing retro palette.
Purple Kiss go back to their darker debut roots in their latest comeback, “memeM.” The two “story films” that preceded this project introduce the seven members (dancers Dosie and Ireh, vocalists Goeun, Swan, and Jieun, and rappers and composers Chaein and Yuki) as a family of quirky witches. Although the two videos combined barely reach five minutes, they suck viewers into their spell-binding story. These films are framed as a casual interrogation between a detective—played by Onewe’s bassist CyA—and vocalist Goeun.
Edited like old film footage and accompanied with light tinkling notes, Goeun’s descriptions of Purple Kiss’ odd living habits start to make your skin crawl. However, a dash of the group’s signature humor remains, especially when Goeun delves into how the seven witches worm their way into another person’s head. Sitting for 24 hours with large, purple exercise balls is not the expected method, nor are elephant turns, but Purple Kiss have never settled for the expected.
The second “story film” concludes with an ellipse as Purple Kiss take control of CyA’s brain and his memories after paralyzing him during the questioning. The new question, now, is what exactly will the seven do now that they are inside of his head?
On the first watch, “memeM” strikes as a standard K-pop MV: Catchy hook? Check. Impressive and memorable choreography? Check. Flashy and aesthetic sets? Check. Given Purple Kiss’ history with nailing their ambitious concepts (although there is always room for improvement), it was disappointing, to say the least, to believe that this was all “memeM” had to offer.
Luckily, “memeM” reveals its secrets if you give it another chance. Purple Kiss take the elements above one step further with their concept of hypnotizing witches.
Part of this spell is the track itself, which is Purple Kiss’ venture into the “noise” music genre. “memeM” pulls you back for another listen with its brash introduction and earworm phrases like “Purple is back,” “in your head,” and “I’m in control” that slide into your brain unannounced. “memeM” is a closer relative to “Ponzona” than “Zombie,” the group’s last comeback, in its dark and sensuous texture. However, through this title track, it is clear how Purple Kiss has grown in the last year, as its structure is more sophisticated, and the members show more of what they are capable of.
The richness of the MV does the rest. On one hand, “memeM” is very “classic K-pop.” On the other hand, Purple Kiss bring it all back to the narrative they established in their story films. The seven members have overtaken all parts of CyA’s brain (if you saw the preceding films), but they also take up space in the minds of those watching “memeM.”
Eyes play an important part in the “memeM” MV, which one might expect for a work that is described as “hypnotic.” Purple Kiss’ logo is already reminiscent of an eye, its symmetry and interlocking shapes creating a more stylized image.
The saying “the eyes are the window to the soul” rings true as the group explores the ideas of memory and the self (“me”). What do you remember at the end of “memeM?” The focus is always on the seven, and there are rare moments when they do not make intense eye contact with those on the other side of the screen. As Swan softly commands, in a voice that is just above a whisper, look into the eyes of Purple Kiss, and it is obvious what is going on in their minds. The seven are powerful women with burning passion and intense dedication. They are also people who have learned and grown.
The “memeM” MV takes reflection literally, bridging each of the sets through the presence of mirrors, reflections, and often bright neon light. Combined with the constant circular motion found throughout the MV—following the original instructions about how to enter someone else’s mind, which included curling oneself into the shape of a ball—”memeM” is mesmerizing and dizzying.
This is the power of “memeM” and Purple Kiss: they will not let your eyes stray. Even if you do manage to drag your eyes away from the members, the lighting, tight framing, and reflective surfaces pull your focus back to each of the seven in the end. There is no way out of this enchanting loop.
From the get-go, the first group set demonstrates this effect. The track opens with an unexpected (but not unpleasant) hook, and Purple Kiss are seen surrounded by giant rotating mirrors. The set gives off a boxing arena vibe with the members situated in the middle, ready to spring into their choreography. An even larger crystal floats above the group; these reflections then bounce off of the turning mirrors, adding heightened visual interest—and controlled chaos—to these rapid scenes.
The members’ solo sets also urge the eye to always find its way back to them. For example, Goeun’s shiny medical area boasts computers with CT scans (including a scan specifically of the brain), gleaming white tiles, and looping chords. The glass that encloses the space appears that it would lead to a hallway full of other similar rooms. Instead, they are mirrors throwing back the bright fluorescent lights, and the viewer is trapped.
A same effect occurs in Yuki and Chaein’s sets, as these spaces rely on reflective surfaces to form a critical foundation for the spell the Purple Kiss members have cast. Similar to Goeun, Yuki is surrounded by brightness (the white of the narrow walls), while crumpled mylar circles Chaein, further closing in the space.
The floor of Yuki’s set is a mirror, which forces the focus to constantly move back to her. Distorted reflections caused by the mylar also follow Chaein’s energetic movements. When the visuals have the same beginning and ending, Purple Kiss plays with memory and—more importantly—how they subtly encourage others to remember them.
The unique editing in “memeM” contributes to this goal and adds a magic of its own, especially in the transitions, which seem to hold a shrouded story. Enigmatic effects of revealing and concealing prompt a spellbinding curiosity to catch the elusive details by watching “memeM” one more time.
The night vision effect early on the MV, when Purple Kiss circle around an iris, demonstrates this, as do the flashes of CT scans and pixelated eyes. Meanwhile, the various kaleidoscope effects hide previous scenes, building elaborate and colorful layers in the MV. Colors also bleed into new scenes, an unseen force liquifying the image and pulling the now paint-like material away.
The best part is that most of these transitions take less than a second to happen: neurons zip through a brain in the MV and explode into a cosmos, but our own brains can barely keep up.
“memeM” weaves together the essentials of a classic K-pop MV. When combined with Purple Kiss’ intriguing story films, this new MV gains a mesmerizing creative edge. “memeM” is a more strategic visual tapestry that pulls in general K-pop fans and builds onto the lore the group is known for, albeit in a subdued way.
Purple Kiss’ comeback sears into your memory, even after just one watch. The sharp point choreography links to their signature gesture (the members rhythmically pierce the sides of their head); the earworm “mememem” hook loops with incredible easy; and the MV captivates by digging into the standard elements they utilize to serve Purple Kiss’ story.
The seven are feeling out new ground in their “memeM” era, as they touch on the growing “pots and pans” sound and develop a new creative narrative to frame their comeback. The next question is, will this enchantment last?
(YouTube. Images via RBW Entertainment.)