Earlier this year, Heize came out with the uncharacteristic single, “Vingle Vingle.” Heize has never been your typical K-pop star who incorporates a dance routine or a catchy hook in their song. The switch was not too surprising considering that the agency she is under, P Nation, tends to go for that type of promotion for their artists. Heize is generally known for jazz-infused ballads with highly symbolic concepts. While it makes sense for any artist to want to explore other genres, Heize has since returned to her roots with “Stranger.” 

In the MV for “Stranger,” Heize and actor Lee Jin-wook tell the story of a couple that has run its course as each persona reflects back on the relationship.  Although, Heize may not be the type of artist to make a Tiktok dance challenge go viral, her songs are both melodically and lyrically beautiful. “Stranger” is more like her typical MVs that tell a story using artful symbolism and camerawork, rather than focusing on the artist’s visuals or dancing talent.

By staying in her lane, though, Heize’s only downfall is that her MVs tend to mimic each other. “Stranger” bears some similarities with her previous MV, “Didn’t Know Me.” Both MVs show the high and lows of a relationship, up until the bitter end. However, “Didn’t Know Me” showed separate actors playing the parts of the story, with a more realistic setting. “Stranger,” on the other hand, relies more on special effects with fire to represent the ups and downs of the relationship. Additionally, with this song, we hear both sides of the story with 10cm voicing the lyrics of the male persona. So while Heize is repeating some concepts, she and her agency are still making it unique with different storytelling and the use of symbolism.

The use of fire in the MV is representative of the couple’s dying relationship. Before the burning car scene, the couple exchange their items–they are both giving up each other’s memories of their love. The car that bursts into flames is itself also a fond memory of one of their dates shown at the beginning of the MV. Also proving that the fire is not literal, in another scene, Lee Jin-wook holds Heize, who then disappears into ashes in a burning house. The fire is not meant to indicate grudges or hatred, and it more represents the pain they are feeling.

While fire is an easy way to show a relationship falling apart, the concept for the MV takes it another step by using it to reflect the highlights as well. For example, the fire is shown in the flames of candles on a birthday cake that Heize happily brings into a room. In another scene, Lee Jin-wook seems to have accidentally set fire to something he is cooking, while the two laugh about it. The different scenarios with fire show that it is not always destructive, and it can also be a symbol for their cherished moments. 

Interestly enough, the temperature in each scene is also an indicator of the happier and sadder moments together. During their break-up scenes, we see their puffs of breaths indicating that it is colder now. Heize even walks into an indoor ice rink, which is knowingly chilly, to reminisce about her relationship. During some happier moments, we see sunshine spilling through the window, implying warmer weather. In the ending scene, after all the fire scenes, the car’s window shows that it is pouring rain outside. While the fire destroyed everything, the rainwater finished washing away anything left of their relationship. Altogether, the weather and fire effects help show the intensity of the emotions during a breakup.

The camera pans to the side to create a seemingly continuous scene, taking the viewers through the highs and lows of the relationship. As such, even though the story is told fast, we can see the subtle changes leading up to the breakup. For instance, in one scene the audience sees the couple happily laughing, and then in the next they are in bed with their backs to each other. This camerawork is a great technique for a MV which has a limited time to give us a plot. 

While the viewers look at the MV for the plot, the lyrics also provide additional context with two voices within the song. Both the female and male voice express not just their grief, but also their guilt in not being the best partner. The two admit they made promises they could not keep, and that they realized they were both hurting each other. It is a melancholy song that is not meant to place the blame on anyone but, instead, let both sides say their good-byes. Per usual, Heize chose a song that is lyrically deep and meant to evoke emotion in the listener:

I should respect your decision and let you go.
Every word I say must sound like all lies to you.
Promises that I couldn’t keep, easily made, only to keep you waiting.
Your cold lips seem to say you can’t take this anymore, can’t go on like this.
I still don’t know what you are feeling, and like a fool I let you go.

Heize may be unsurprising when it comes to her MVs, but overall, she is consistent. For her audience, this is going to be a lovely track that will surely become a classic. It takes into consideration both sides of a broken relationship and weaves it into a single message of heartbreak. On the first watch, the MV may seem repetitive of a previous MV, but it has enough differences to make it stand out on its own. Its use of metaphors and camera techniques to give the MV its own value. 

(Youtube. Lyrics via Youtube. Images via P Nation.)