It requires no explaining that Sunmi is an icon — since her enchanting debut with “24 Hours” nine years ago, she has molded her craft into the unexpected, boldly twisting and redefining custom ideals on visual expression and concepts.
Behind every comeback is a production so distinct and colorful from previous works that each one enjoys its own spotlight, as part of Sunmi’s never-ending rainbow. On the shelf of her solo discography sits stylish “Gashina” next to dashing “Heroine” alongside a dark “Noir” and 70’s retro “Lalalay,” with plenty of other artistic works in between. What each distinct work shares in common, however, is an underlying, deeper message that never fails to resonate with her audience.
We’ve seen this unfold more prominently with “Heroine” and “Noir,” as both MVs were a reflection of Sunmi’s state of mind regarding critics and the toxicity of social media. By making her productions more personal, we can witness her inner growth as an artist in addition to her musical growth as a performer. Keeping this balance may not always be an easy feat, but with Sunmi fans are eager to await a detailed, spellbinding, yet innately human approach to her work.
Or perhaps we can add witty to the list of words used to explain Sunmi’s artistry. “Heart Burn” strays a bit away from social statements to instead shed a whimsical light on loneliness. At first glance, “Heart Burn” seems like a light and fun summer track, but the MV takes a turn with the “heat” of her love being too much for her lovers, leaving her longing for what she hasn’t attained across the world for centuries. Illustrated under a sunny blue sky and across multiple dimensions, it’s a perfect visual escape into a dreamy summer bliss — with just one condition.
To start, the storytelling aspect is truly the highlight of this MV, as it smoothly reveals the greater implications through natural plot transitions. If at first readers simply assume a heated love story, they are in for a surprise as Sunmi’s team takes “heated” to a whole new level. This transition is executed via an initial microscopic view that pans out to the root of the conflict: a method that, personally, seems to work smoother than, say, a heavy edit of too many flashbacks. Though various lovers in diverse scenes are presented, viewers are able to connect the dots once the conflict becomes a recognizable pattern no matter the setting.
Through cleverly hinted time jumps and creative cultural takes, Sunmi is portrayed as quite literally inciting too much heartburn for her lovers to physically endure — an amusing take on the typical concept of being “too hot to handle” on numerous accounts.
Yet, viewers are also led to sympathize with Sunmi by the end of the MV, as she represents those who desire nothing less than a summer love story to enjoy the beauty of the season. Rather than enjoying another picnic or romantic night at a motel, she is constantly driven to nurse the sick, only to visit yet another headstone. This juxtaposition is what nails the irony of her story, particularly as the bright, summer filter never wavers no matter if she is grieving or smiling. Thus, the double-sided interpretation of the title “heart burn,” where it burns not just from passion but also deep-seated longing.
Separate from the MV, however, are the lyrics that hint at a slightly different angle. Upon interpretation, it could potentially read as Sunmi inciting heartburn like the sun with its flares:
Summer heat doesn’t cool down all night
I keep dancing with dangerous moves
Burning sunlight with mild breeze
I love this vibe
Oh my, I can’t hold it anymore
when you look at me
Just like the summer sun, Sunmi burns with abundant heat — and is seemingly unable to hold it in in the face of love, prompting said “heart burn” that is too much for her lovers to (literally) handle. This is not only reflected via the MV plot but also stylistically. Not only is her styling impeccable to match the era of her scenes, but her long red hair gives off sunny summer vibes that sway as she grooves to the subdued track. Noticeably, she also only dons dresses throughout the entire MV, which further hints at and supports this carefree aesthetic.
Despite the initial somber undertones of the plot, the MV keeps its sultry, bright atmosphere in check. For the most part, Sunmi seems to be enjoying herself despite the constant departures, and she continues to attract a plethora of suitors around the world. Love comes and goes like the seasons, while the sun keeps burning and flaring: a constant theme that underlies the entire production. Overall, “Heart Burn” is an easy, mid-tempo listen that can be enjoyed at anytime of day during the summer — a great follow-up to “Purple Night” from last year’s season.
What did our fellow readers think of Sunmi’s latest comeback? Please feel free to let us know in the comments down below.
(YouTube; images from Abyss Company)