Writerly Inspirations: Kpop Aesthetics

So everyone knows that I’m kind of a Kpop fan. I ventured into it way back in the day when  Wonder Girls were still on top and hot boys were singing sexy Omarion-lite songs about wedding dresses, but I still check in every once and a while to see the going’s on.

Kpop videos tend to be a little same-y, at least back when it was really exploding with new groups debuting every second (I think things have slowed down somewhat since then), but there have been some kpop videos that, over the years has actually been so aesthetically gorgeous and imaginative that it’s inspired me as a writer.

In terms of aesthetics, Kpop usually goes for the mismatched crazy, wacky, neon colour look. Something like this:

But there are definitely those music videos that have really stepped outside of the box and piqued my writerly imagination. Here’s just a few examples:

1. Come Back Home – 2NE1

This is one of two apocalyptic themed videos on the list. It brings together a kind of Blade Runner-ish, Brave New World setting with the masses being controlled by some ominous state power via mind-suppressing technologies. In the video, we see some of the members of the four-membered girl group, 2NE1, as the scientists brewing their Soma, but we also see the social costs when we get a glimpse of how these mind-numbing drugs are affecting the lives of a couple. Then, of course, we see the rebellion. I love the dark, gritty visuals matched with 2NE1’s usual vibrant, rebellious flare. The trippy mind-screw moments during the ‘Come baby baby,’ part is just a visual bonus!

2. IU – You & I

I wouldn’t say I’m an IU fan and I don’t listen to a lot of her music (I still don’t really get why her last three notes in Good Day are considered 3 octaves when they’re in the same octave?? What gives??) But I LOVE this music video. It is fairy tale meets steampunk meets Dr. Who meets Polar Bear express and for some reason it works. We see the beautiful, dreamy fairy tale aesthetics come through when we check in on IU at her little European-inspired clock tower, and then when the scene switches to her workshop. The goose (the goose!!!) adorably reinforces the fairytale aesthetics as IU sings about wanting to grow up to what I’m assuming is some kind of automaton boy lying lifeless on a workshop bench. Then she hops into a time machine Dr. Who style and flies to the future. It’s vibrant and whimsical, and the clock aesthetics just add to the fantasy.

3. F(x) – Shadow

Okay, this isn’t exactly a music video – more like a teaser for an album. But this really brings out the kind of pretty girl tumblr filter aesthetics that really works here. The girls in f(x) are already beautiful, but their styling feels both vintage and modern, the grainy filters makes the piece feel a little like you’re watching through a film reel, but the soft pallete and feminine colours and the prettiness just makes everything feel dreamy and pretty! You can always count on f(x) to bring the gorgeousness.

4. T-ara – Day By Day

This is probably my fave video on the list. This is the second apocalyptic, or rather, post-apocalytpic themed video among the four, but it takes things one step further. Instead of simply hinting at a storyline, it gives you a full fledged narrative, with heroes, villains, fight scenes, dialogue, plot progression, all wrapped up in some pretty damn good production. In the story, Korea has met with some kind of a disaster and the resultant wasteland is ruled by lawlessness. This video actually inspired me for the Effigies Series in terms of thinking of the world outside society, where the monsters roam – who lives with the monsters? Who becomes monsters themselves? The video brings in a really cool element of cyberpunk and magic that reminds me of one of the later Final Fantasy series (like 7 or 8), which just makes everything that much cooler.

5. Wonder Girls – I Feel You

The Wonder Girls may not be the number one girl group anymore, but this video was absolutely hands down one of the best of 2015. A little raunchy, a little trippy, a little moody, a little dreamy, I Feel You brings you right into the world of mid-80s MTV with the beautiful Wonder Girls reborn as a four girl group band to rival the girls of Jem and the Holograms. Thought not quite as outlandish as the cartoon, the video perfectly encapsulates the era, adding in a little bit of youthful free spiritedness and angst that reminds me just a bit of the old John Hughes movies. It’s just totally gorgeous overall.

So what about you? Do you know of any other cool Kpop (or otherwise) music videos that can stir one’s writerly imaginations?

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