K-pop has always been an umbrella term that includes various genres like EDM, trap, hip hop, and the list goes on. Xdinary Heroes take the genre in another direction with their unique pop-punk melodies. Considering they are following in the footsteps of their predecessors, Day6, it is great that JYP made sure they had their own distinctive sound to avoid being seen as a clone. Additionally, as K-pop is continuously churning out new groups every couple of months, it is important, more than ever, for a group to stand out. Other new groups may be using their various choreographies and visuals to pull in fans, but Xdinary Heroes rely heavily on their unique sound, instrumental performances, and pop-rock personas. While the MV for “Strawberry Cake” sets the tone for their punk-pop style and helps promote the album, it, unfortunately, does little for the song’s main theme.
Right away, the tone of the MV is both mysterious and ominous. The members are playing in what appears to be a desolate subway. However, in a flash, the viewers are introduced to people in black hoodies. The audience never gets to see their full faces, and it adds a sort of cultish aspect to the overall video. The members also never interact with these mysterious beings, and vice versa. Unfortunately, there are no other settings besides the subway to break up some of the scenes, which would have helped elevate the MV. On top of that, the MV’s setting lacks meaning connecting back to the song itself aside from an actual strawberry cake in the finale.
An empty subway with flickering lights definitely sets a gloomy tone, but the boy band looks unnecessarily crowded. Gunil, the leader, and the drummer is rarely seen but in blurry scenes in comparison to the other members. There could have been a few focused shots on him especially since we are just getting to know the members. Jun Han is also mostly hidden, though he is given a solo moment placing the focus on him and allowing him to show off his talents. With six members and large instruments, a subway with a small hallway may not have the best format for a performance video.
A performance video, like “Strawberry Cake,” makes sense on paper, because the members already released a fleshed-out MV for their single, “Test Me,” and “Strawberry Cake” serves as an extra promotion for their first debut mini-album. However, it is disappointing that we did not get an entirely conceived MV considering the song has so much potential with references to dark fairytales. Even if the band and their company wanted to keep this MV strictly a performance MV, they could have added just a couple of elements to tie back into the song’s concept.
It it is hard to believe that a song title like “Strawberry Cake” could be about anything tragic. However, the lyrics do in fact tell the story of a toxic relationship. The voice of the song references someone who constantly lies and is trying to force a happy ending. Among other things like acting like a “puppet” and feeling stuck in a “fantasy.” It is hard to see how a strawberry cake fits in with all of this. However, overall, the song’s lyrics go well with the lullaby melody of the song:
Everyone loves fairytale
With the same ending, you to me again
Forcing a happy ending obviously
Tell me to be obvious person, no
I’m not falling for your lies anymore
It was a smart idea to release “Strawberry Cake” as a single from the album, but the band could have included more references to the song in the performance MV. Additionally, there should have been just a touch more screentime for Gunil, who is both the leader and the drummer of the group. While the singers are great, it is important to let all the members shine. Despite some of its shortcomings for “Strawberry Cake,” there is no denying that it is an amazing track. Xdinary Heroes is a great stand-out from the repetitive concepts in K-pop, and hopefully, they will continue breaking the mold.