The Boyz’s latest release, “Whisper”, comes nine months after their previous comeback with “Maverick”. While many things have changed over the past nine months–the group completed a global tour, had their recent encore tour in Seoul, and the youngest member, Eric, is on an indefinite hiatus–one thing that does not change is the group’s ability to continually play to their strengths to come back with a familiar tune.

As The Boyz briefly explain in an interview, “’Whisper’ is filled with that dopamine you feel when someone whispers in your ear”. Additionally, it is a track where you can feel the energetic mood unique to the group with the harmony of retro 808 bass and futuristic synth sound, giving listeners an even more thrilling moment through its addictive hook and vocal harmony. 

Upon the first watch, “Whisper” is familiar for many reasons. Visually and sonically, it bears similarities to their past brighter and cuter tracks, “Thrill Ride”, “Bloom Bloom”, and “D.D.D”, and surprisingly, to a large extent, the edgy “The Stealer”. 

Visually, the entire colour scheme of “Whisper” is influenced primarily by blue and pink. They are the predominant colours throughout the MV, which starts with an explosion of a bright pink heart, recalling the themes of hearts and the colour pink that recurred throughout “The Stealer”. (At the very least, this was the case in their concept video and the “Stealer” edition of their “The Stealer” album.)

Additionally, the dark, mature, and sensual concept of “The Stealer” is very well recognised, and it featured the use of dark colours, especially black and red. In “Whisper”, Kevin, Sunwoo, and Haknyeon are shackled and confined in a dark room to balance out the cuteness and sexiness seen in the first half of the MV. At the same time, this alludes to “The Stealer”’s heist concept, where The Boyz were “locked up” in cages for stealing hearts. Moreover, bright neon colours are often spotted in “Whisper”, though to a lesser extent. This colour choice recalls “Thrill Ride”, which uses similar bright colours to bring out the exciting, energetic, and refreshing feeling of liking someone, akin to being on a thrill ride.

As fun as “Whisper” is, it also subtly and skillfully references other songs, notably “Bloom Bloom” with some of the members appearing in a flower-filled set. It also hints at an alien invasion–another motif in the “Bloom Bloom” MV–in its cryptic and open-ended epilogue. In this epilogue, the members stand in semi-darkness, gazing expressionlessly at Juyeon, who appears as if he is about to be abducted by aliens. In addition, one of the sets has a wall covered in buttons that somewhat mimics the cabin of a spaceship. 

At this point, for those who are as familiar with The Boyz as I am, thematically, the recurring use of hearts imagery, bright colours, and the cheerful tune would seem to be a clever mash-up of the four concepts that are popular among fans: “Thrill Ride”, “Bloom Bloom”, “D.D.D”, and “The Stealer”. 

But instead of adding value to the MV, this choice creates an MV that makes it challenging to put the puzzle pieces together. As a summer song, one would have anticipated it to be completely cute and energetic, but the stark and often abrupt contrast between the brighter scenes—like the chorus and the opening—and the darker ones—like Sunwoo, Kevin, Haknyeon being chained up—makes it a strange MV. On top of that, although ambiguous lyrics are common in K-pop, the fill-ins for “Whisper” contain a lot of random words that are simply a mismatch for the concept. Sunwoo’s “sway sway”, Jacob’s “stuff stuff”, and Juyeon’s “Who cares?” are several examples that may make any native English speaker chuckle and tilt heads upon first listen. 

To put it another way, “Whisper” can come off as somewhat random with its lack of a coherent concept that raises more questions than it does answers. And for viewers who are unfamiliar with The Boyz, this statement holds even truer. 

“Whisper” is a far cry from their previous comeback, “Maverick”, which mainly relied on its plot. Taking this difference into consideration, while “Whisper” may be confusing to most viewers, perhaps this is less so for its specific audience–their fans, The B. The fact that this release is geared towards The B is already heavily implied in the opening with their lightstick, in the shape of a loud hailer, that makes its appearance throughout the MV.

That being said, as a The B, while I like “Whisper”, I certainly don’t love it. All in all, “Whisper” is a safe approach, a cumulation of motifs, images, and concepts that were tried, tested, and have appealed to fans in the past. 

(YouTube[1][2]. Images via IST Entertainment. Lyrics via Color Coded Lyrics .)