Ever since Got7’s departure from JYP in 2021, the group’s seven members have lept into pursuing their own solo careers, reuniting on 2022’s GOT7 and for other projects and appearances in between. With Jinyoung primarily focusing on acting roles, and the other six already venturing into their own discographies over the past couple of years, it was only a matter of time before he debuted a musical persona of his own. His first solo album, Chapter 0: WITH, and MV for title track “Cotton Candy,” are a sweet introduction to a soft, romantic pop sound and Jinyoung’s sentimental solo persona — a fitting choice considering how he carries himself both on and off the stage and screen.

Musically, “Cotton Candy” is satisfyingly smooth and simple. Light piano notes and a funky bassline helm most of the track’s melody, while Jinyoung’s breezy harmonies behind his main vocals give it an overwhelming sense of fluffiness — naturally, like cotton candy. Overall, the track is fresh and atmospheric, with enough bounce and variety in the beat and instrumentals to keep it afloat from beginning to end. The lyrics take the titular metaphor further, as Jinyoung sings of his fluttering feelings (“It feels like I am flying in the sky, I can fly love/Just me, oh, me like this”) and likens his love to that of “cotton candy” (“You let me exist as it is/Like cotton candy”). 

Despite the track’s simplicity, the MV holds onto the dreamy impression it leaves by taking its visuals in a more cinematic and nostalgic direction. This feels appropriate, especially considering Jinyoung’s background in acting along with subtle “vintage” sound effects that lurk beneath the track’s surface — like the light crackling effect at the beginning of the track that sounds similar to the dropping of a needle on an old vinyl record. 

The MV starts with Jinyoung sitting in a dorm room, looking wistfully at the ceiling. Dancers surround him, but he appears to be in his own world. In the next scene, as he walks up the steps to the corridors of a campus building. A fluffy, white cloud reminiscent of cotton candy is visible in the corner of the shot — presumably what he is looking up at in the opening scene too. As the track and MV progress, he glides through its choreography across other locations on the campus, from a basketball gym to a soccer field to an auditorium — all nostalgic settings in their own right — all while the white cloud stays overhead. 

While the cloud sometimes appears when Jinyoung is alone, it also shows up when he’s surrounded by other people too, always remaining the object of his focus. In a scene toward the middle of the MV, Jinyoung sits in a basketball gym in a circle surrounded by several other people. When he gets out his seat to enter the middle of the circle, he keeps his eyes toward its fluffy appearance the entire time. The motif of Jinyoung continuously either looking up at or walking toward the cloud, even as he is surrounded by the company of others, alludes to its steady presence in his mind, guiding his actions and wishes. As he continues to sing of his feelings of love, the cloud becomes a visual representation of that very feeling — both a sense of comfort and a sweet dream to strive toward. 

On top of the symbolic implications of the cloud and the nostalgic notes present in the MV’s settings, its overall color palette also comes off as wistful and cinematic to portray the track’s metaphorical meaning and feathery aura even further. The MV largely balances a mix of strikingly cool- and warm-toned hues, through both its color grading and Jinyoung’s own outfits. Even as the settings, from the dorm bedroom to the basketball gym to the outdoor hallways of the campus, contain their own mix of opposing cool and warm colors, Jinyoung’s styling counteracts their effects to a tee. For example, in the basketball gym, the red chairs and bleachers and wood floors lean overwhelmingly warm — likely a representation of the “sweet like cotton candy” love the track’s lyrics focus on.

In contrast, Jinyoung wears a bright, light outfit that almost looks blue and green, neutralizing the warmth of the background while also reminding viewers of the “coolness” and lightness in sound that spans the entirety of “Cotton Candy.” The same balancing act is also especially noticeable in the outdoor scenes, where the background instead veers toward cool blue and green hues, while a pop of red in Jinyoung’s outfits ensures that the saccharine nature of the song is never lost.  

Both cool and warm tones can signal nostalgia in their own right, but the final scenes in the MV take it up a notch when almost everything — from the red auditorium background to Jinyoung’s red suit to the heavenly cloud setting — become entirely warm in color. The only obvious contrast during the auditorium cuts (which practically look like scenes out of a high school prom) are the blue balloons and backup dancers’ getups, but the scenes in which Jinyoung is dancing and singing on a cloud are fully orange and yellow, without any contrast. At this point in the track, Jinyoung’s vocals soar, reaching their climax within the song. While fluid and polished throughout, Jinyoung’s and the backup dancers’ final performance of the chorus’s choreography appears looser and more effortless than during previous moments in the MV. All that is to say that by the end of both the MV and the track, the warmth takes over, signaling that Jinyoung’s love for whomever it is he sings of overcomes all. 

For an idol of Jinyoung’s diverse talent and skillset, “Cotton Candy” expectedly covers it all, enveloping an easygoing yet artistic visual experience into a breathtakingly light and effortless track about the metaphorical musings of love. At the forefront of it all is Jinyoung’s gentle poise, mixed with a sense of charming coolness, that makes “Cotton Candy” an easy watch and listen over and over again. 

(YouTube. Lyrics via Genius. Images via BH Entertainment.)