Almost eight years after his solo debut, there are no doubts about Zico’s strength as a musical artist. After making the impressive transition from underground to mainstream K Hip-Hop, he continuously defied expectations with hits like “Any Song” or “Bermuda Triangle”. His unique way of blending underground and mainstream sounds has always allowed him to deliver catchy but meaningful tracks. This ability to talk about deeper issues through fun and engaging music is more important now than ever.

In 2022, the younger generations are constantly battling a range of anxieties. From the global pandemic, through global warming and social media addiction, the population’s mental well-being is constantly challenged by the outside world. In “Freak”, Zico manages to address those issues without sounding preachy. With neon colours and impressive imagery, he delivers a truly entertaining MV, which does not sugar-coat the artist’s message. Instead of fake positivity, he chooses radical acceptance – with a fun spin. Because, at the end of the day, why shouldn’t you enjoy the apocalypse?

The MV show’s premise is quite straightforward: it shows humanity’s last day on Earth. At the beginning, a dramatic news report announcing that the end of the world is here and people have only one day left to live. The rest of the video is an imagined scenario of what the humanities last moments would look like, and it has to be said that Zico’s version of the apocalypse makes for a truly engaging content. Instead of lamenting, Zico and his friends try to have fun and enjoy the time they have left. With “Freak”, Zico explores several issues, one of his main points being that in the end, everyone is equal and there are no main characters when faced with extinction. The song also explores additional themes of societal norms and the meaning of being a celebrity. Zico explored the topic of stardom and his relationship with fame time and time again, in songs including “Extreme” and “Artist”. In this aspect, “Freak” is no different. The lyrics and the MV show how meaningless popularity becomes in the face of truly life-threatening events.

As Zico says in the lyrics:

“There is no main character in this situation
Citizen 1, citizen 2, everyone is an extra”.

In a sense, people’s true values are revealed in this MV. First, we see Zico as the “main character” followed by the spotlight, only for him to disappear in the crowd of panicked people seconds later. As the apocalypse nears, everyone’s true colours and desires are unveiled, leaving no sign of the orderly society we are all used to living in. Zico uses this scenario to make a point about how status and forced societal roles loose all meaning in the face of apocalypse, as exemplified by the shot of a disengaged policeman eating takeout in the middle of anarchic chaos. However, Zico wants us to understand that there is another side to the situation – a sense of freedom can be found in this disappearance of social norms.

In “Freak”, Zico invites the listeners to enjoy the chaos and embrace the lack of control. The MV is filled with imagery relating to current global issues, showing forest fires and the destruction of the environment or highlighting people’s chronic addiction to social media. Even as he learns about the apocalypse and runs outside of his apartment, Zico clutches his phone, while others are pictured life-streaming the end of the world on social media. These intense and daunting shots only highlight the high energy of the scenes in between them, which show people dancing and having fun. As people shed the limitations put on them by society, they become “freaks”, dancing without a care in their mind. However, this seemingly carefree, dissasociative approach comes with a price. The ever-present screens seem to make the point that people have been disengaging from reality long before the world became submerged in chaos. Maybe because of the constant distraction, people missed the chance to prevent the apocalypse. This complex, double-sided message is what makes the song so engaging and allows Zico to examine the featured themes in depth.

Even though the song has a darker quality to it, the video is full of bright and colourful aesthetics. The bright, neon colours present in every shot highlight the fun feeling of the MV and the track. The sets are ultra colourful, with the colours so intense that even the blue sky looks unnatural. In correspondence with the theme, Zico’s hair is green, bringing to mind toxic waste. The pink and green which dominate the screen from the beginning, create a distinctive contrast, pleasing the viewer’s eye. Some parts of the MV are a bit darker with more blue and orange, to accentuate the serious note of the song hidden behind. In the end, the aesthetics always come back to the green and pink theme. This use of contrasting colours is a great way of bringing the story to life and creates a lovely experience for the viewer.

The sets in the video are not overtly complicated, but they do not disappoint. The first look shows Zico in his room before finding out about the end of the world. The contrast from the rest of the video is easy to notice, as this first set is dominated by calm, pastel colours, which quickly turn to flashy neons as the apocalypse starts and the chaos unveils. This simple setting is a definition of calm before the storm and highlights even further the insanity of the sets that follow. The main set is an impressive showcase of a dilapidated city, with vandalised stores and debris on the streets. The most remarkable set is a metal cage filled with TV screens, which only makes an appearance for a short moment but is truly memorable. The sets are designed in a way that contributes to Zico’s storytelling and manages to bring the viewer’s attention to the smallest details, like a cracked phone screen. These ominous sets contribute to the dark feeling building up all throughout the MV, with not even the bright neon colours being strong enough to distract the viewer from it.

The MV is filled with meaningful scenes, showing the most important points of Zico’s lyrics. The opening scene in his room can be seen as a nod to the times before the pandemic, with blissfully unaware Zico being relatable to all of us. This little glimpse of normal life brings up feelings of nostalgia in the viewers’ hearts, before switching to a fast-paced neon madness. The rest of the MV is filled with scenes showing different ways in which people cope with the news about the apocalypse. People are pictured fighting, playing music or taking selfies, however none of these tactics seem to be powerful enough. The only way to truly deal with the amount of pressure which comes with facing the apocalypse is to disengage and become a “zombie”. As the lyrics say: “Take off the human costumes and shoot a zombie movie”. Even though Zico tries to fight this disassociation at the beginning, he gets captured and seemingly brainwashed into obedience. This can allude to the fact that disassociation is one of the ways to deal with stressful events like the global problems faced by people these days. Presenting a concise but powerful story, all the scenes in the MV go well with the song and add another layer of depth to the theme.

The choreography of the MV does not fall behind the other well-executed elements. The fighting in the background is remarkably done and adds nice movement and a sense of flow to the shots. The last scene of the video features an intense dancing sequence performed by Zico with a big group of background dancers. The choreography for this fits well with the rest of the video, as it is perfectly executed but not overly complicated. It only draws more attention to the message and does not pull away from it. The choreography truly focuses on conveying the sense of fun, while the dancers’ blank faces leave the viewer with a sense of eerie uneasiness. The dancing scene is a perfect portrayal of the double-sided message of the video: disengage and have fun to deal with stress, but consider that there is a cost to it.

The cinematography of the video is dynamic and eye-catching, with layered blocking. Stopping the MV at any point provides the viewer with an interesting, dynamic shot with engaging movement. Ever-present red sparks flying in every shot add yet another dimension to each scene. The cinematography works to the advantage of all the other elements, showcasing the amazing sets and colour schemes.

In “Freak”, Zico does a great job of discussing the biggest anxieties of younger generations, without being preachy about it. The MV is fun and engaging and tackles deeper topics without being depressing. The lack of agency most young people feel when faced with serious global issues contributes greatly to their stress levels. In order to deal with it, many people use technology to disassociate. Zico’s unconventional approach to addressing these serious issues shines through the video and makes it immensely engaging. He acknowledges that becoming a disassociated, fun-loving “zombie” is sometimes the only way of dealing with stress. The artist shows us the dangers that come with this approach, but in a way that is understanding and not overtly judgmental. The theme, eye-catching aesthetics and simple but effective sets all work together to enhance the viewing experience while simultaneously delivering his message of trying to enjoy one’s life no matter what happens in the world.
With “Freak” Zico delivers an astonishingly layered and enjoyable MV with a perfect flashing, neon assault on the viewers’ eyes. It proves his status as a truly established artist and a master in his craft with a deep understanding of his audience.

Sources: [1],[2], [3], Youtube [1], Images via KOZ Entertainment