City pop and disco synth weren’t sounds originally associated with Gfriend upon their debut or consecutive youthful, wholesome tracks such as “Me Gustas Tu,” “Rough,” “Navillera,” and “Glass Bead.” Neither does it suit the dark fairytale route that “Apple” took the group as they began expanding on their concepts and genre. Perhaps the sultry disco bop “Mago” hinted at such a transition, but it wasn’t until soloist Yerin took the chance to innovate upon a trending sound to release something of her very own.
Embarking on a new, retro earworm that sounds both sweet and somber, “Bambambam” combines both past and present into a remarkably fresh and addicting sound. Just as the MV storyline seeks to reunite the past and present for a love story, the song allows fans to reminisce on the past while enjoying Yerin as a prominent solo artist today.
Compared to Yerin’s flowery, performance-driven debut track “ARIA,” “Bambambam” is a more mellow take on her sweet, flowy vocals. Because it’s more laid back, viewers can better absorb the subtly somber aspects of the song in accordance with the story playing out throughout. While most scenes seem to be filled with love, what really takes place is a kind of game that unfolds itself through an old-school arcade. Whether in reality or in the digital realm, the two lovers have yet to reunite as they did in the past. While it is assumed they met in a similar friend group (re: the lounge scenes) their story “in reality” is largely up to our imagination (if they have built one apart from the game, that is). Although their timeline together apart from the virtual arcade is debatable, what remains true is that their love for each other eclipses reality.
Though that begs the question: will their love only be real in fantasy or reality? As clever as it is to bring video game characters to life, it’s also somber as we will never know if they will achieve love outside of the game. The precision in showing what becomes a double-edged sword makes this MV memorable long after it’s over.
Not to mention, the lack of a definitive time scale is evident in the small details: lighting, for instance, and fashion. While all the characters hang out in a type of lounge, the male lover is the only one whose lighting is darker, and foreboding. As if he is set apart from the scene, he is mostly an onlooker. He also dons cargo pants like Yerin does, which is a small but clear signal to us of the past re-emerging in the present. The casual Y2K style stays constant throughout the MV, uplifting any rules of time and modernity.
The only complaint, if I must, has to do with the back dancers’ outfits. Compared to Yerin and the set aesthetic, they aren’t coordinated or put together at all, making them rather distracting when watching the choreography. A similar occurrence had occurred back in “ARIA,” as the back dancers wore the same outfits despite Yerin’s outfit and backdrop changing. It’s a very trite matter, though I do wish this could change for future projects.
Nonetheless, this comeback was innovative and fresh in every way possible. Visually it was a pleasant aesthetic with a fun way of combining time, concept, and style. Not to mention, Yerin looked quite dazzling while performing the song. Personally, it seems that “Bambambam” suits her as an artist more than her debut did, and she looks to have grown more into herself as a soloist. Though she may be still finding her way as a new artist with her own branding, “Bambambam” is a great next step to get there.
Arguably, the greatest challenge when transitioning from group member to solo is the rebranding. To convince the public that one deserves not just the fame and recognition they accumulated thus far, but that it’s worth holding onto their next journey. To hit the narrow, right balance in forging a new tempo, but not straying too far from what originally launched their career. In Yerin’s case, it’s even harder as some people may compare her works with that of Viviz, although they are both successful artists in their own right.
In reflection, Yerin is doing great at making the best of a new journey. This most recent comeback did its work in boosting expectations for her growth as an artist, and I can’t wait to see what she shows next!
What did you think of Yerin’s latest comeback? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
(YouTube; images via Bill Entertainment)