N.O.M (Nature of Man) - Slow and Sure Teaser
N.O.M, otherwise know as Nature of Man, crashed onto the Kpop market almost a year ago with one of the most questionable male idol mvs in a fair while.
A week ago their YouTube channel became active again, with videos of the members training. Of course having explained the concept of their debut, A Guys, I just had to keep an eye out for what was sure to be a comeback from the group.
As expected today N.O.M released a teaser for their comeback, Slow and Sure.
Though taking on a new theme for their visuals it seems Nature of Man are keeping with their 3rd sexuality, blurred lines, styling [see A Guys post for more detail].
With the members’ super-masculine physiques teamed with figure revealing clothing, platformed boots and objectifying camera angles keep strong the groups message that borders between genders are blurred within Kpop, and the industry principally revolves around the visual.
N.O.M’s debut release may not have been the most solid vocal performance, in reality they may have survived on controversy, but the Slow and Sure TS though short and repetitive does imply an improvement in their talent.
The TS ends with the words
Nature Of Man
To be continue… [sic]
As the video comes with a sparse description there’s no indication as to whether The Legend is reference to part of their comeback, but the word Legend fits the group N.O.M well. When they debuted they were talked about widely, but in Korea that were part of a media blackout, they weren’t reported on and they did not promote on television. Therefore the group made a mark though could be considered as a group that aren’t authenticated, as they are largely unmentioned by ‘the powers that be’ in the music media world. N.O.M are essentially a legend in the Korean market.
It would not be surprising if the mv displayed more similar imagery, and if A Guys got you talking Slow and Sure probably will too.
WH Creative (Jang Woo Hyuk) - XXXV MV Teaser
Jang Woo Hyuk, known for his multitude of talents, but probably most known for being a member of first gen group H.O.T.
His most recent venture is on the DJ circuit, in days just passed Woo Hyuk took to the decks at the pool party event Super X Summer Festival alongside Paris Hilton.
In the past few hours Woo Hyuk released the teaser for WH Creative’s first project, a XXXV MV Teaser.
XXXV is the name of his DJ album, set to be released a week Friday, 29th August.
The name XXXV is the Roman numeral for 35, 35 being his H.O.T. number. Each H.O.T. member was assigned a colour and number as a part of their branding, their numbers referred to their school roll numbers.
To the sound of self produced track Time To Rock featuring LeeSA, we see a visual that includes one of Woo Hyuk’s biggest loves, all things sci-fi. Just like fellow Back to the Future fan No Min Woo, Woo Hyuk even wears his limited edition Nike Air MAGs. Previous solo mvs such as Time Is [L]Over also displayed his love of sci-fi.
The imagery of past and present Woo Hyuk, the sci-fi styled powers, and the credits reference to Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind suggest that the XXXV mv will deliver something impressive.
Time will tell.
Jang Beom Jun - Difficult Woman
It’s not long ago hit indie group Busker Busker were rumoured to be breaking up, though it wasn’t the first time they’d caused such a rumour. Thought this time round member Jang Beom Jun was creating his own independent label and was in talks with CJ E&M to distribute his music.
Confirmation of the groups future, or lack there of, never seemed to surface, but Jang has stepped out alone with an eight track album. Originally due to be released as a surprise for fans before enlisting for Military Service on Christmas Eve 2013, Jang delayed his enlistment and album due to his wife being pregnant.
His track Difficult Woman seems to be of that Busker Busker ilk, and with Jang being the groups vocalist and guitarist, it’s easy to hear why.
Taking that into consideration it’s hard to find fault with the track itself, it is everything you’d expect from Jang Beom Jun.
Befitting of the song and current trends the colour palette of Difficult Woman is subdued, lots of natural and grey tones. It’s not until the narratives conclusion we see much colour.
Difficult Woman celebrates the birth of his child, whilst also reminiscing on the start of their relationship.
It seems for many viewers one of the most prominent images in the mv is a very small detail, a sticker with the taxi cab he takes. Sounds unimportant, but some comments even suggest the tone of the sticker ruins elements of the mv. Does it ruin it, or is it a funny little addition to the story?
It is easy to see why some would consider a USE CONDOMS! sticker to be lowering the tone of the mv, but really isn’t it just a little bit funny? After all, it is because they didn’t do as the sticker suggests that the end of the mv sees the birth of a baby.
This mv also shows one distinct cultural difference regarding child birth.
Traditionally, Korean men aren’t present during delivery of a baby. Although its now allowed for a man to be there it’s still fairly common for a woman to give birth alone or with her mother there, and the man waiting outside as he does in this mv.
Since the 70s most Western countries have seen it as normal for men to be present in the delivery room at the birth of their child, however Korea never really adopted this as the norm. There’s no real scientific research on the benefits or drawbacks regarding where a man is during childbirth - so no one is really doing it wrong.
Difficult Woman is a great solo offering, alongside a mv paying beautiful tribute to the birth of Jang Beom Jun’s first child.
Taemin - Danger TS (also written for UnitedKpop)
SM have a new solo artist set to debut, SHINee’s Lee Taemin. The youngest member of SM Entertainment’s SHINee is known to be a skilled dancer and strong vocalist, is his talent and appeal sure to make an impact in a lone venture?
Launching Super Junior M’s Henry as a solo artist in Korea seemed a very bold, maybe even daring move, but he landed in the charts at #2 upon his debut. He may not be making EXO-sized waves, a hard feat for anyone, but he’s also not shrinking back into the obscurity of being one of the Super Junior sub-unit members.
Despite not having a lot of male solo artist, or solo artists in general, it is undeniable that SM know how to promote a male idol group member as a solo artist, with a strong individual brand - the success of H.O.T.’s Kangta being a prime example.
History predicts success for Taemin, but what does the visual say?
The teasers are striking, giving Taemin a very strong brand, one that draws influences from the fashion forward brand of SHINee, but also sets him apart from his group, this is an image that was strongly hinted at in the last SHINee release.
SHINee’s Everybody presented them as a uniformed unit, but their solo scenes created strong individual images. Taemin’s was arguably the most distinct, adding a masculinity and maturity to his image, but keeping him on-point in fashion and image stakes.
This distinct look isn’t unique of course, solo images and scenes in Everybody were used as industry commentary, references to other artists were meant to be made.
With ACE, using this as his definitive image will undoubtably have people comparing Taemin to others (think JYJ’s Jaejoong, Trouble Makers Hyunseung, BIGBANG’s G Dragon), and anything done in branding and styling is intentional. These aren’t unwanted comparisons, Taemin is styled similarly to some of the biggest acts to preset an idea that he holds similar qualities, talents, and appeal.
Ever wondered why you see so many debuts with similar concepts to each other and to a popular, more established act? This subconsciously has you apply similar expectations and opinions on the new act.
It appears Taemin’s solo sound will stick to much of what we already know, the teaser sounds very much like the more experimental and electronic beats we are used to from SHINee.
You may often see or hear SHINee referred to as underrated - this is technically not true, in the last batch of annual Korean music awards SHINee were recognised as one of the most popular groups, they even scored themselves more than one Artist Of The Year awards.
In the current roster of SMTown artists SHINee are one of the most technically brilliant artists you’ll find. Taemin is, without a doubt one of the company’s best artists to promote as a solo act in the current market, and it seems unlikely this is a venture that will fall flat.
Taemin’s solo debut will be available on Monday 18th (KST).
Are you guys that basic comparing it to apop mvs. Wtf?
If you’re talking about the HyunA breakdown - the comparisons are the most ‘basic’ part of my breakdown yes, but reappropriation is the basis of most visual media now.
I am not the first person to have compared the artists or their mvs, nor will I be the last.
What I did aim to do was build on that basis, and explain the use of power in the mv, a visual element most have passed over because of the strong resemblance to western mvs.
If you don’t agree with what I wrote, that is absolutely fine.
PS - ConceptLore is just one person
HyunA - RED
HyunA has returned with her solo mini album A Talk, and its title track RED.
The teasers released for RED didn’t line up any mixed messages, as the mv is as one would expect from its build up.
So, I ask, who has dancing in your pants, bright lipstick, sexual innuendo, monkey friends, thrones and elaborate palaces in common?
HyunA, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry of course.
HyunA’s RED includes imagery and styling we’ve seen in music videos from the western stars. This isn’t the first time HyunA has referenced a western music star. Her Now mv with fellow Trouble Maker star Hyunseung has often been spoken about regarding its similarity to Rihanna & Calvin Harris’ We Found Love.
Though not unique to HyunA’s styling, one of the more striking visual elements of RED is the mass of imagery with sexual inference.
One of the opening images, and a visual that correlates with the lyrics is that of the monkey’s butt. Know anything about monkeys and you might know that there are species in which when the female is in heat its behind will become a very distinct red colour to signify this to males.
The apple is often seen as a symbol of sexuality, and sexual seduction. As in G Dragon’s Heartbreaker the apple shows an exploration of sexuality, a descent into the full knowledge of ones sexual power.
Also supporting this idea is the scenes of the caged press. Rather than a scenario in which HyunA is the caged one, trapped under the ever watching eyes of the press, HyunA is in control of her image, and how she is viewed.
There is often talk of how HyunA dislikes the overuse of her sexy image and that it is purely pushed by her company for sales, but the imagery speaks otherwise.
Often used sexual imagery is that involving phallic symbols. The banana speaks for itself.
The other main phallic symbol in the mv is the giant lipstick tube. Of course, there is reference to lipstick in the lyrics but the exaggerated tube in the visual hold more than its make-up meaning.
Some of the scenes involving the tube are self explanatory, though this too serves to display HyunA’s power. In the moments the tube is turned on men it shows HyunA has control, she is the dominant image and figure, no man is above her.
Coincidentally all three stars have tattoos on the inside of their upper arm, though this is more a useless fact, rather than something that determines HyunA’s referencing of the others.
Love never dies | Sanskrit - Anuugacchati Pravaha / Go With The Flow | Tempus/Time
Surprisingly RED has been passed for broadcast on all three major channels, despite the current extreme strict nature surrounding the broadcast regulations.
There is probably no question about HyunA’s fanbase appreciating RED’s mv, and it takes the brand she has been building to its next logical step.
JYJ - Back Seat
Next up is the return of the kings, back together after solo activities JYJ have finally released their long awaited comeback track, Back Seat.
With an impressive TS and a branding ad costing a reported 1 billion Korean Won (over £500,000) expectations have been high for the JYJ return, one that is thought to be their last before enlisting on their mandatory military service.
Unsurprisingly the trio have delivered, and impressively so.
Back Seat mixes the styles and strengths the members are known for to make a catchy track. From slow, sensual ballad stylings, to pacey dance worthy beats, Back Seat encapsulates everything fans of the group love.
As the, for once strong, English suggests with Ima put you on my back seat, this track has a more adult nature, and the imagery supports that.
The mv takes many popular and/or effective styles and combines them to form a video that doesn’t so much have a narrative, but is cohesive and strong.
Most of the settings for the mv are vast and for the most part empty, there are even a couple of ‘box’ sets, that might make you think of the trio’s former company SM. Technically SM’s mv style is the one that fits their target audience best, and contrary to the belief of some is far more elaborate than simply dancing in a box.
Alongside this style, we also see wasteland, and neon signage upon rooftops - often used setting.
Yoochun’s scene includes signage for The Belasco Theatre, located in Manhattan is an extremely famous Broadway theatre, not only is Yoochun an accomplished actor, but member Junsu is one of the most high grossing Korean idols to feature in musical theatre, currently playing Dracula in the Korean translation of its Broadway counterpart.
Notably, Yoochun’s car in the mv is a classic Jaguar, the exact model and colour used in TVXQ’s Something. TVXQ made reference to their ten years and origins as five in that mv, is this JYJ doing the same?
Jaejoong’s car is set in the centre of a yard of destruction. Desolate areas and wasteland are Kpop mv commonplace, but it is Jae’s styling here that is most important. He is the most casually dressed member of the three in his solo cuts, this making a clear reference to his more alternative musical stylings, and referencing his Just Another Girl mv.
In a similar vein, Junsu’s styling could be seen as a reference to his blond hair, navy suit look in Tarangtallegra.
One of the most striking visual elements in Back Seat is the scenes between the members and females. Taking on a style probably most memorable in 2PM A.D.T.O.Y, although you know which member you are watching you will never see the female in full focus.
This filming style allows the female to stay anonymous thus giving more opportunity for the viewer to reflect themselves into the scene they are seeing, enhancing the users interaction in the media.
As always JYJ show off their dance skills in the choreography section, filled with passion and determination the choreography too supports the more adult nature of the song.
Although my personal opinion is, if you’re not going to wear a shirt under your suit jacket you should commit to it. Of course with such a young main fanbase modesty is something that is probably promoted, but I doubt with a 15 rated mv that revealing their chests would make too much difference - it isn’t like JYJ haven’t been topless before.
Possibly one of their strongest songs, and most certainly their strongest mv to date, Back Seat is better than fans could have anticipated. With heightened user interaction and all the strengths of the trio, Back Seat is one not to be missed.
After a short, unplanned ConceptLore hiatus I plan to cover some of the more prominent releases I have missed over the past month, and we start with the return of Korean reggae artist, Skull.
Returning with his first regular album in ten years, KING O’ IRIE, the album apparently boasts five unique mvs (two already released) filmed in locations around Cuba, Jamaica, Hong King and the US.
The first mv release comes in the form of DEH PON TOP. The video has faced much criticism for only focussing on the negatives of the lifestyle surrounding his genre, and the deprivation surrounding those areas associated the the culture.
With scenes in Jamaica and Cuba we see depravity, poverty, areas mid development. Some areas of Cuba are of course, post-Castro and the revolution, still rebuilding and developing, and it is no secret that Jamaican areas such as Kingston are plagued by poverty and some of the highest crime rates in the world.
DEH PON TOP focuses on these areas, and the negatives that come with such poverty, for example the crime and the drugs.
As the main reference point for reggae in Korea one would hope Skull would be keen to show positive images of a culture so often stereotyped, but it appears here, even with a strong song, that isn’t on the top of Skull’s priority list.
The TS for Who Gives A Shit? has been criticised for similar reasons.
The second mv is for the track I’m Getting Married. Featuring Eugene of THE SEEYA the song comes from BraveSound - top producers of Kpop in Korea - and actually sounds a solid track. Essentially a break up song, I’m Getting Married has a lot of promise, showing a different side to Skull, but then we get to the mv.
Featuring freelance model Huh Kkot Bun Hong the mv for I’m Getting Married is largely juxtaposed to the lyrics in which one os given the impression that Skull loves the girl.
Whether a juxtaposition or a read between the lines narrative, one thing that every viewer should agree on is that in this case you can root for the girl, be glad she left.
The narrative portrays Skull as a man whom, at best doesn’t realise just what he has and lets it slip away, at worst an abusive partner.
With shots that include Skull waking up between two girls, neither of which are his girlfriend, and Skull hitting and pushing his girlfriend in various situations with varying levels of intent and anger.
At best the message that can be taken from this mv is that loving relationships aren’t always what they seem when away from onlooking eyes, and that is the message you might want to take given the impression the narrative gives.
Seemingly, if you want a positive insight into anything slightly reggae, Kpop fans are best looking towards YG tracks created by Teddy Park. A big fan of reggae you can often hear reggae influences in his tracks for the likes of 2NE1, and symbols of the culture can also be seen in mvs such as Falling In Love and Taeyang’s Ringa Linga.