I rarely get a chance to talk about K-pop’s music videos, even though they are without a doubt one of the industry’s most important facets. A dynamite video can really make a song stand out, and the following ten clips brought memorable visuals and storylines to the year’s K-pop offerings.
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10. OH MY GIRL – SECRET GARDEN
Many girl group videos melded the mundane with the fantastical this year, but Secret Garden nailed a sense of magical realism that utilized eye-popping computer effects to create a sense of serene escape.
Neverland is standard, slice-of-life romantic video save for one element: the protagonists are both men. Shot with a refreshing level of simplicity and candor, the video brings a sense of normalcy to a topic that is yet to be fully understood in Korea’s still-conservative society. No big special effects or set pieces here, but nonetheless Neverland stands as one of the year’s most important music videos.
Poking fun at the quintessential rise to fame that indie bands everywhere dream of, Hot Potato packs an entire season of music industry mockumentary into one three-and-a-half minute video. The guys are up for the challenge, fully embracing the roll of over-the-top rock stars.
Something New builds interest for its first, slow-burn minute before transforming into an unexpected spy thriller. We don’t often see female K-pop performers take on such a no-holds-barred action hero role. It would have been easy to bring an expected level of cute to the video (pistols filled with glittery pink liquid, for example). But by playing it straight, Something New becomes quite badass.
Giddy Up‘s conceit may be simple (the guys dance inside a giant pinball machine), but the video commits fully. There are no extraneous attempts at story here, just an intensely enjoyable dance video shot within a perfectly realized setting. From the color choices to the camera angles, Giddy Up was one of 2018’s most memorable visuals.
Without a doubt, Our Page was 2018’s most gut-wrenching video to watch. After the tragedy that SHINee faced, we all knew a video like this was inevitable, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Thankfully, Our Page was the perfect tribute — at turns somber, hopeful and reverent. Good luck making it to the end without shedding a tear.
4. BOA – WOMAN
2018 was a year that really capitalized on BoA’s prowess as a performer. She released quite a few videos, but none were as potent as Woman. Playing the song’s self-empowerment message to the hilt, the video throws BoA into different roles, using costuming, filters and wigs to create a series of stunning looks. This is intercut with women of a variety of ethnicities, which gives the video the feel of rallying cry to the world.
This is the perfect showcase for Seungri’s unflagging charisma. While others went dark and brooding, 1, 2, 3 presents an effervescent jolt of feel-good fun. Shot in one take, the retro, straight-out-of-a-musical conceit is a definite head-turner, perfectly suiting the song’s old-school appeal.
Sometimes the best thing a music video can do is drop the theatrics and put full spotlight on the performers. Shot in a series of abandoned and empty buildings, Baby Don’t Stop is driven by star power. The camera weaves in and out of rooms, following the guys as they move toward moments of eye-catching choreography. The setting has a dank, moody feel, further contrasting with the sharp performance at the forefront.
Sunmi can always be counted on to deliver stunning videos, and she kicked off the year with a real showstopper. Using stark, dramatic colors and stylized sets, Heroine fully supported her beguiling performance. Much of the video has a film noir feel, but this is contrasted brilliantly by the splashes of yellow and pink that overtake the chorus. There’s a sense of fluidity to the entire thing, as set pieces wheel in and out of place and Sunmi runs breathlessly between various constructions. It’s hypnotic and powerful, just like the song itself.
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