Is it just a long, beautiful perfume ad, or do DoJaeJung themselves emulate all the sensual aspects of a pleasing fragrance? A memorable bottle serves the purpose of subtly yet surely enhancing its wearer all around, and that is exactly what we see within and through their performance. From choreography to style, the three of them blend in with their ever-evolving surroundings, matching the mood of night versus day. Daytime DoJaeJung reflects scents of clean linen sheets and lazy mornings, bringing a sense of coziness and comfort. Meanwhile, nighttime swiftly reveals a sexier, much bolder dynamic of the trio. “Perfume” is rich with the best versions of Doyoung, Jaehyun, and Jungwoo, and it makes for a new experience that hasn’t yet been tried with the NCT branding.
It’s a refreshing take for the group, which has continually experimented and grown with various units since 2016. Delegated by age, nationality, or musical contribution, NCT have surprised fans time and time again with unique combinations and releases. Members such as Mark, who promoted in NCT U, 127, and Dream, have three separate chances to show new colors as an artist, based on the distinct concept and genre covered. Likewise, DoJaeJung – also individually spread throughout NCT’s fixed groups – get to delve into this new creative freedom as polished artists. Outside of the norm, this trio subunit is yet another pleasant surprise, and presents a fresh new whiff of their potential.
To start off, their daytime aesthetic is sleek and cozy, fit for any perfume commercial. What stands out at the beginning of the MV is the composition of colors for Jaehyun – it’s a colorful, yet homey set with natural elements such as wood, flowers, and lots of plants. It almost made the bathtub full of bubbly water seem normal, though it takes a few takes to notice. Jaehyun’s outer cardigan and bookmarks are also full of flowers, all giving nods to his favored scent to present.
Similarly, Doyoung presents a clean scent, with the majority of his shots filled with pure white sheets. Immediately, scents of the morning and fresh laundry sheets come to mind, warmed up by Doyoung’s charming smile. Already, it’s evident that the producers have utilized the exact visual imagery needed for our brains to think of a scent through our imagination. Not to mention, the chosen scents fit each member like a glove.
For Jungwoo, there is repeated flower imagery, but these are set outdoors, cultivating our imagination of a scent apt for the cities or a warm afternoon. There is also the shot of him delivering the box of perfume for a love interest, which probably carries with it a fragrance that aligns with their aesthetic. Though simply a sweet gesture on the outside, the emphasis on perfumes and fragrances is yet another angle to view the concept of love, as well as communicating it.
Like the rest of our senses, a scent has the power of evoking a subtle, intimate message of love that can spark interest and curiosity in its giver. Usually, past themes on perfume have relied on simply desiring the scent of a love interest, whether past or current (or, as TEEN TOP once attempted, the song charmed a woman to not wear perfume in order to hide their affair). It is interesting to view it in a different light here–as a vessel of communication–even without seeing the end result.
On the other hand, their nighttime vibe is perfectly apt for any romantic night out. With loose silk shirts, a glimmering pool, and plenty of flowers all around, these boys are ready to make their love confession. Personally, the night aesthetic seems to be more alluring, as it really replicates any perfume commercial one may usually find in ads. The use of film-style subtitles, the members’ seductive stares from the water, and the sultry lighting – all of these set the mood in a simple, straightforward way. Another highlight is the use of “headshots” as a chance to name their selective scents. These little touches of creativity go a long way in bringing the overall arching theme of the MV and title track together.
All this is to say, the debut performance of DoJaeJung is a masterpiece in every way, from set design to styling, directing, and choreography. Nothing has gone to waste, with every cut and scene contributing to the beautiful production. “Perfume” also showed each of the members’ growth as individual artists apart from their group, bringing with them expectations of what else is to come in the future. Hopefully, DoJaeJung will be an ongoing unit apart from normal NCT promotions — and someday SM will experiment with grouping other trios together for other unique opportunities to be born.
(YouTube; images via SM Entertainment)