Does the song make the K-pop music video or does the K-pop music video make the song? Of course, a good song should always be able to stand on its own, with the accompanying music video only serving as a mnemonic aid, so the answer might seem obvious to some. But consider the following uniquely shot music videos that challenge the notion that all of the genre’s visual releases follow the same trite love octagon storylines and abandoned brick room sets as the ones before it. We repeatedly return to these effective and entertaining videos and as the soundtrack second handedly ingrains itself in our heads, we know the real answer to this age old question.
Because we all saw it coming and because we cannot have a compilation of uniquely shot music videos without it, EXO’s “Growl” is the first up on our list. Garnering 76 million views on SM Entertainment’s official Youtube channel, this makes it the most watched video the group has to date. It may be the song, or the boys’ A+ school uniform concept that is attracting all the attention, but more likely than not, it’s the fact that the entirety of the music video was shot in only one take. Audiences can only imagine how long it took the boys who were working under much pressure to perfect the dance, and even then, it wasn’t quite perfect. Coming from someone who is guilty of revisiting the music videos multiple times, several blunders can be spotted in the final cut, such as the moment when member Kai accidentally drops his hat in the middle of the routine (see 2:13 mark). With such swift recovery, however, fans would never have thought that it wasn’t part of the choreography.
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Overlooking the unflattering filter that only makes the members look more washed out than their Korean skincare routine can handle, VIXX’s fun music video for “G.R.8.U” employs another never been done before technique – the use of a rewind effect. It veers from the dark fantasy concept that we are used to seeing from the boys down into a more lighthearted avenue as we watch the members channel their inner five year old. They squander away good tissues from a tissue box, rip away at pages from a book, and commit other acts of horrors to a mother in reverse. And I know I just cannot be the only one who was envisioning how this must have looked like done in motion during the filming process.
What makes this music video all the more awe inspiring, however, is that with music videos that apply a rewind effect, comes backwards lip-syncing. As if a music video shoot was not demanding enough, the members had to learn the lyrics of their song all over again, but this time an inverted version of it. As one Kultscene writer has noted, VIXX works hard to create pieces that can be enjoyed on every level.
Though times are changing, INFINITE shows that they are one tech savvy group to beat with their revolutionary music video for “Bad.” The first of its kind, at least where K-pop music videos are concerned, the video uses advanced 360 degree virtual reality technology in order to create an interactive experience. Viewers at home can change the angle of camera by manipulating the arrows on the video or, if on a mobile device, by moving the device in the direction that they want to view. As we look on through the many mirrors that are seen throughout the music video, the immersive aspect comes into play when the members are locking eyes with and singing to us. It almost feels intimate, as if we are intruding on something private, but sadly, it’s probably the closest most fans will ever get to be to the boys. Besides, what is more romantic than having seven guys serenading to you in a strip down bathroom anyways?
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BEAST “No More”
The witty incorporation of the social media that is so prevalent today in music videos is commonplace, but before San E or Aoora did it, there was BEAST with their original music video for “No More.” In it, the group’s rapper Junhyung and his former lover sift through their newsfeed and old photo memories on Beastagram, a parody of popular social media platform Instagram. Most of the music video itself, which features the members emotionally singing in a white recliner while the video retells the protagonists’ former relationship, is essentially the videos that are uploaded onto Beastagram. It’s a little gimmicky but because of the right direction and proper execution, was able to nevertheless deliver a touching story of how a couple can move on and still simultaneously watch over the other. Only in our generation could giving a like on an ex’s picture ever be so powerful.
Akdong Musician “200%”
Another music video that is just as creative as Beast’s “No More” is Akdong Musician’s “200%,” where Lee Soohyun, the female unit of the duo, shyly tries to confess her feelings to model turned actor Nam Joo Hyuk through a paper crane that she left him. Origami is an integral element in the video, so naturally the motif can also be seen throughout the video, whether as a part of the how to fold graphics that are randomly displayed or in the editing style. Unfortunately for Soohyun, who we are made to believe ends up with Joo Hyuk’s character, the puppy love came to a bitter twist ending as the screen “unfolds” along the creases and reveals that Joo Hyuk has been sharing moments with another girl and not Soohyun. The music video cleverly takes a simple art, such as that of paper folding, and infuses it into the video, literally and thematically.
Leessang “Turned Off the TV” feat. Tasha and Kwon Jungyeol of 10cm
The product of what happens when stop motion meets K-pop is Leessang’s mildly suggestive music video for “Turned Off the TV.” The song and video depicts how a woman makes a man feel, that is, wanting her so much even if it means playing catch up. One of the best moments of the music video that was only made possible because of the limitless boundaries of the animation technique is when the man becomes exasperated in the process of catching up and, while bending down and back up, becomes his own boner. The erect phallus is enough to give the woman a fright, so she slaps him, Korean drama style.
Other than the comedic value it can bring, the use of stop motion lets the imagination run wild in other instances as well, such as the scenes where the men and woman fly through the cotton clouds or swim through the dark blue carp of an ocean. The production quality is low, sure, but the results of bringing together a bunch of household props and a lot of time on hand creates for an extremely endearing music video.
Girl’s Day “Hug Me Once”
Girl’s Day music video for “Hug Me Once” reminds me of one of those choose your own ending books we all used to read as a kid. It’s highly engaging, and the seemingly endless possibilities put the readers in control. Well, that’s exactly how it is in this music video as it starts from an introduction video where you, the viewer, are given the choice of watching the game or dance version of the music video, other than the original video itself. There is also even an option to kindly decline all offers, but of course this means game over for the viewer.
Apart from the dance version, all the selections and their accompanying videos are shot from the first person point of view for added realism. Fans are taken on an immersive adventure as the girls drag your outstretched hand to optical illusion museums, cruise ships and scenic beaches. The directors were even sure to include a buffering scene to emulate actual MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) in the game version, which was shot in a role playing manner with familiar dialogue boxes and heart meters. Since its release back in 2011, nothing as charming or similar as Girl’s Day’s “Hug Me Once” has been put out in the K-pop market, making it an undeniable addition to this list.
Is there any other K-pop music video cinematography you enjoy? Share your picks in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.