After a slew of successful singles, from debut track “Eleven” to “Love Dive” to recent hit “After Like,” girl group Ive have plenty going for them. But after that much success — the group already boasts 39 music show wins — the question that always follows is: How will they keep it up?
“I Am,” their latest title track from their first full-length album, I’ve IVE, is just the answer to that question — and a fitting one at that. On one hand, the track and MV are a celebration of all of the group’s successes to date, and on the other, a testament to how much the members have grown together as a group and individually in their self-confidence and musically in such a short amount of time since their debut.
Compared to their previous singles, “I Am” is Ive’s grandest and most fleshed-out track to date. While it doesn’t feature a one-line hook that feels as catchy and addictive as in songs like “Love Dive” (“Hold your breath, love dive” and “After Like” (“What’s after like?), that also speaks to the production’s consistency and willingness to fill in any empty space, which hasn’t been the case in their other tracks. “I Am” is energetic throughout, with a thumping beat and synths to push the track along at a perfectly upbeat and easy-to-follow pace throughout the verses and chorus. While the instrumentals and beat mostly clear out in the pre-chorus for needed contrast and build-up, the members go all in when the song hits its chorus, with explosive vocal harmonies filling out its melody.
Ive usually opt for emptier, more instrumental-heavy choruses, so the shift in pushing the members’ vocals to the forefront is extremely welcome here. The noticeable change also speaks to the group’s showcase of their own confidence — something they especially speak to in the track’s lyrics and throughout its MV. The group isn’t afraid to bask in their own vocal abilities (which they prove they have here) or their own successes. “I Am” is all about Ive’s pursuit of confidence and their dreams, in turn encouraging their listeners to feel and do the same:
Look at me, look at me, look at me now
A different me from yesterday, it’s thrilling
Everything I’m afraid of makes my heart flutter now
This theme especially comes through in the MV, from the extravagant and luxurious sets and outfits to how the members carry themselves with an obvious air of self-assurance and spunk.
For one, “I Am” leans heavily into the grandness of the MV’s sets as a way of portraying Ive’s pursuit and achievement of their dreams that they discuss in the song’s lyrics. The MV opens on a plane runway, which is featured throughout the MV as well as during its explosive finale. That set quickly leads into the next series of grandiose backdrops, including a gold, rococo-style room, a spacious marble closet filled with handbags and heels, the inside of a private jet, and the top of the jet’s wing (where the group also performs the first chorus’s choreography).
The group is also styled accordingly, donning a myriad of lavish outfits to match the MV’s and sets’ overall stylish feel. Throughout several scenes, the members wear matching black sparkly dresses with white button-down shirts along with tights or knee high socks and pearl necklaces, almost as a sort of continuation of the preppy school girl uniforms featured in their “Love Dive” music video, only now elevated for a more sophisticated vibe. In other scenes, particularly the choreography moments set against a plain white backdrop, the group wears all black — cutout tops and leather pants — for another sharp look that emphasizes their matured personas and cohesively confident auras. At the end of the MV, the plane runway also fittingly transforms into a fashion runway, with each member having their own runway walk moment in a mix of fashionable black and white outfits.
These styling moments, along with the MV’s curated selection of extravagant sets, all work together to emphasize the abundance of confidence Ive oozes through “I Am,” but the luxuriousness of these elements doesn’t get the MV there on it’s own. The MV still has its unnecessarily silly moments too, like Wonyoung somersaulting out of the plane the members sang and danced on only a few scenes prior. But, questionable and splashy moments aside, the members also showcase their self-assurance during the MV’s non-choreography moments in the attitude in their facial expressions, struts, and stares into the camera. They’re basking in their achievements, and unapologetically so.
The members’ confidence also strikes in a different way in a blip of scenes during the second chorus in which they all dance freely in the gold, rococo room, only now with the lights flashing on and off. The scene practically becomes a party, with the members dancing and jumping alongside one another with an air of both certainty and freedom, as if they’ve made it to a point where they can let loose and leave their worries behind.
“I Am” may not be Ive’s most inventive or narratively-engaging MV to date, but it still makes its mark nonetheless. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, Ive lean into how they’ve done just that thus far, treating this comeback as a celebration of their achievements and assurance in themselves to be great and continue to do so down the line.
(Youtube. KArchives. Lyrics via Genius . Images via Starship Entertainment.)