To fit with the beginning of summer, or for the sake of diversifying his discography, Kim Sungkyu has delivered a bubbly dance pop track, “Small Talk.” He previously released MVs with more serious and darker tones, like “Hush” and “I’m Cold.” While “Small Talk’s” comedic aspects might seem to take a lighthearted tone, the MV’s concept is far more critical. Through different scenes, the MV breaks down the concept of attempting “small talk” in a society where people isolate themselves.
The concept of “small talk” has always been about making conversation regarding light topics like the weather. Sometimes it happens with strangers or acquaintances in an attempt to pass the time. The concept for the MV suggests that society has forgotten its ability to create even small talk, and prefers to keep to themselves. Public transportation and offices are two examples of places that usually have small talk and both are depicted in the MV.
In the first scene, Sungkyu enters a subway and squeezes through a crowd of people in suits staring at their phones. While the individuals may be having conversations through their phones, they do not take a look at their surroundings. No one speaks to or even looks at Sungkyu, who is clearly uncomfortable in the crowd.
Within the lyrics, the song’s persona is frustrated at having to hold in the urge to talk, and that anxiety is also expressed in the MV. Sungkyu’s rising heart rate is depicted on the screen along with the usage of an oxygen inhaler, suggesting that he may be panicking among the sea of people. Despite these signs, we see no one is paying attention to his clear distress. To further critique society, the MV’s concept seems to add to this concept by suggesting the lack of empathy and consideration from the subway riders.
In the second setting, Sungkyu’s persona is at a whimsical office with coworkers who keep trying to avoid conversation with each other. One coworker forces herself to listen to Sungkyu; she literally bleeds from their ears, suggesting she is far from enjoying herself. From smartphones to headphones, the characters in the MV do whatever they can to avoid a conversation with Sungkyu. The scenarios are silly and comical, but still make an impactful statement about the intentional isolation of the individual.
The last scene continues the critique as Sungkyu sits on a phone line with an obvious green screen in the background. Emojis and letters explode into the air, suggesting his attempt to finally release his urge to communicate. Instead of engaging in conversation with him, however, a crowd gathers with their phones to record him; he is a spectacle, not a person to connect with.
While the MV is a critique, it does so in a lighthearted and comedic matter. The bright colors that give it a summery tone, and several scenes are comical, like when his coworker hides in dog house or when Sungkyu looks into an absurdly small room. Additionally, the other characters join Sungkyu’s choreography, which is shown during the chorus. Due to the lightness of the MV, this is just a soft critique of society, with the intention to simply encourage the viewers to participate more in some casual small talk.
The MV takes a more general route regarding conversation, but the lyrics of the song have more of a romantic tone; the song’s persona seems to address a romantic partner. They are eager to speak to someone they are romantically attached to, and they just want them to say anything even if it is just small talk. This is definitely different when it comes to small talk with coworkers or strangers whose intention is more about passing time. Instead, the persona is eager to figure out what to say to their potential romantic partner:
Words that came out without a filter
You got me thinking selfishly
Say anything (Oh, no)
I’m not interested in what you just said
You dominate me
Gеt it up, get it up, baby, give it to me
The MV and song are both a decent addition to Sungkyu’s discography as a solo artist. It is different both from his solo tracks and his contributions as a member of his group, Infinite. The song carries funky tunes that are popular among K-pop artists this year, but still manages to be different enough to be its own song. With this venture into a different genre, perhaps Sungkyu will continue to explore and expand his artistry.