Chuu is a former member of the now-disbanded group, Loona. Unfortunately, Chuu’s removal from Loona was riddled with controversy. She initially was missing from promotions due to health reasons, and eventually, she filed an injunction to suspend her exclusive contract with Blockberry Creative, her former agency. Blockberry Creative, in turn, attempted to tarnish her reputation by removing her from the group citing an ‘abuse of power.’ To cut a long story short, some of the other members of Loona followed her lead, and now all the members are free to pursue other music ventures. 

Despite the scandals, and due to her loyal fanbase, Chuu can reintroduce herself to the K-pop industry. While Chuu has collaborated with others on singles, “Howl” is her first official debut as a solo artist. Unlike her other members, such as newly formed quintet Loosemble who chose to keep the original Loona lore going, Chuu has taken a different direction. “Howl” introduces a post-apocalyptic world filled with fantasy creatures, and allows Chuu to distinguish herself from her previous persona. 

In the MV for “Howl,” Chuu mysteriously wakes up in a dark room with boarded-up windows. An unknown force pulls her outside making her face the world. There are no other human beings and no electricity, but the town is unusually intact. It is unclear if all the humans were somehow wiped out, leaving Chuu as the only one left. What is clear is that the scenario is meant to emphasize the fact that she is alone. This could also be a metaphor for Chuu’s feelings when she was ousted from Loona, and left to be on her own. While it was a dark time in her life, she faced it head-on and showed the world that she was able to persevere.

Chuu’s persona in the MV takes comfort from fantastical monsters who are surprisingly welcoming to her. The high-quality animation of the monsters genuinely looks like they were pulled from a Pixar movie. They interact with their settings, giving them the feeling that they were there with Chuu as opposed to just being added later. While they are monsters, they are drawn to still look adorable, with colors and furry traits. Chuu’s persona is also all smiles after leaving the dark room, showing she is now in a better place. 

Most of Chuu’s scenes emphasize her solitary life, but simultaneously show the audience that she is doing fine. She sits in a cafe alone, she takes a boat ride alone, and she is at the beach alone. During all these scenes, Chuu smiles brightly into the camera. The only beings that comfort her are the monsters that pop up every now and then. The monsters could be a metaphor for her fans or even her endurance. It is important to note, in the credits scenes, we see that Chuu is not alone. She is actually in a bustling city while the monsters follow her through the streets. This further supports the idea that the scenario is a metaphor for Chuu’s persona who is learning to cope on her own after leaving Loona.

The song is fairly short with only two verses, but even so, the lyrics provide a clue to the fantasy world. The voice of the song indicates a post-apocalyptic scenario with comments about the world ending and calling out for help. The concept of someone’s world ending could also be on a personal level, with Chuu’s K-pop career being cut down at the height of her popularity, it must have been an emotional time. The pre-chorus shows that Chuu’s voice asks them to save each other, even though they cannot stop the world from ending. From all the clues, this song is possibly about her turmoil. If you take it one step further, this song could be a message to her fanbase who is more than ready to welcome her back into music:

Ooh, ooh, wolf, shout out “Mayday!”
Even when the whole world abandons you, I’m here
Ooh, ooh, wolf, shout out “Mayday!”
Even when God turns his back on me, you’re there

As previously stated, Chuu mostly stayed away from references to Loona. Loona were known for their intricate choreography mixed with bits of outer-space lore. However, the “Howl’” MV has no dance routine and sticks to more of a metaphorical storyline. Despite leaving her previous persona behind, we see the moon on the beach scene. With the moon being a symbol associated with Loona, perhaps this is Chuu acknowledging and saying goodbye to that previous time in her life. 

Chuu is moving on from Loona, and coming into her own as a soloist. The MV for “Howl” has a unique storyline about self-perseverance, along with amazing animation. Additionally, Chuu’s pop-electronic music sound doesn’t just distinguish herself from Loona, but from other artists right now in K-pop. It can always be difficult for an artist to work on their new image after being shrouded in scandals, but luckily for Chuu, she was able to pull herself out of that dark time in her life and step into a bright, new world.

(YouTube. Lyrics via Genius. Images via ATRP.)