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[OP-ED] What makes a music video?

By jennywill   Sunday, November 20, 2016   61,907   6,735   0



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Over the past two years of K-pop, labels and artists have really stepped up their MV game. Gone are the days of boring dance-in-a-box MVs, and now fans instead are treated to incredibly high-quality MVs, some of which have taken an incredible amount of time and cost in terms of production.

But whether fans want to accept it or not, there is a point where it has gone "too far." I was watching B.A.P's "Skydive" not too long ago, and I was amazed by the quality and production value of the MV. There was obviously a lot of thought put into the plot, acting, costume, and more (despite it reminding me a lot of "One Shot"). I never thought angel Jongup would look so great as a psychopath. But at the end of the MV, I realized I was so taken by the plot and the twists that I had no idea what the song even sounded like. So I watched the MV again, got distracted by the plot again, and forgot about the song again. Eventually, I gave up and just decided to listen to the song from the album.

It got me thinking - what's the function of an MV? Ultimately, I think it's supposed to showcase songs, and when an MV distracts you so much from it, it hasn't really done its job.  

We've seen something like this so many times.When T-ara did it years ago with "Cry Cry" and those series of MVs. It was a pretty novel idea and kind of cool to see all the work put into it. But you still didn't really listen to the song, especially since T-ara put in other songs into the MV. Then labelmates SPEED came out with another theatrical series with "That's My Fault", which basically did the same thing.

K-pop has had a lot of other big story MVs since then, most recently and notably BTS' 'HwaYangYeonHwa' series MVs. I actually thought the MVs to "Run" and "I Need U" were set up pretty well to be song-centric. Scenes would correspond with the mood of the songs, and change accordingly when the song changed verses. But then there was way too much 'hidden meaning', fans got into symbolism and received headaches trying to find the hidden meaning in it all, and the song kind of got lost behind the story.

Don't get me wrong - MVs like this are a great, great gift to fans. You not only get an amazing, high production and high-quality MV, but also get to see your idols acting in beautifully crafted stories and scenes made just for them. But while the fanbase is one of the most important (maybe the most important) audience for an MV, they aren't the only audience. MVs are also for the general public to learn about (and maybe start getting into) the groups, and also to spread word about the song - because in the end what pays the artists is not MV views (disregarding YouTube ad revenue), but album / song sales. Fans would have bought the song and album anyway. If an MV can't showcase its song to someone who wasn't originally a fan, that was a lost opportunity.

Does this mean artists can't ever put out anything artistic in an MV? Definitely not. There have definitely been MVs that are like the ones above but still managed to showcase songs. B.A.P's "One Shot" was actually a pretty good one, with all the shooting and gang themes going back to their actual choreography and song. I also think any of the BTS "Run", "I Need You", or "Blood, Sweat & Tears" would've been great by themselves instead of in a long string of MVs that held too many meanings. MONSTA X has a pretty good series in their 'The Clan' series, with "All In" and now "Fighter". VIXX's 'Conception' series - "Dynamite", "Fantasy", "The Closer" - are also all good story MVs that managed to be mysterious but not go overboard.

I think, though, a lot of labels go for the middle ground in mixing very light stories that aren't riddled with too many elements. We see a lot of them lately - GOT7's "Hard Carry" was kind of like that, as was something like Taeyeon's "I". The best example is probably Super Junior's "MAMACITA", which is completely song-centric but has a light plot that manages to be incredibly funny and memorable at the same time.

And of course, you have MVs like EXO's "Growl" or TWICE's "TT". These obviously took less time and production costs as grand MVs, but are still high quality, incredibly cute, fun to watch, and most important of all, song-centric and choreography-centric. They actually garner more views and set more records than other MVs. In fact, if you want to compare for the same artist, an MV such as BTS' "Dope" has way more views than "I Need U" (which came out earlier) or "Run" (which has a third of the views). 

As a fan, of course, it's great to have MVs like "Skydive" or "Run". Both of them - and all others like them - are beautifully shot, intricately planned, and amazing to watch. But I think it's time to take a break and think about the fundamentals - what MVs are supposed to be doing. It may very well be that they are artistic outlets that feature the songs as background tracks, and that's why there are categories for 'Best MV' at awards. But it may also be that they're just another media for artists to spread their songs more. And if this is the case, it might be the tail that's wagging the dog instead of the other way around.

  1. B.A.P
  2. EXO
  3. Super Junior
  4. T-ara
  5. VIXX
  6. (Bangtan Boys) BTS
  8. TWICE

Starlightwarrior Monday, November 21, 2016

if the music video is protraying the message of the album/song correctly I would say it's a success. For example BAP's mv is a honestly more like a shortfilm that describes the messages the album had. But there are other functions music videos have. A music video that properly highlights the choreo (example Growl) is also a great mv in my head, there are many things music videos can be these days. :)

cococcchanel Monday, November 21, 2016

I like creative MVs that are centered around the music with plots as long as the song. For me, the music is the most important aspect. Not to discredit the beauty of many existing and upcoming music videos nor the hard work behind them. But, if I want to watch a movie with background music – not a song with a music video – I do that instead. Again, the music is what matters to me.

ana_martins Monday, November 21, 2016

I confess that i kinda miss the MVs in a box sometimes. I don´t like MVs just with story, to me the best MVs is the ones with an balance between the story and the choreography. I am giving zero fucks for the story itself and i even often get upset about it especially if they cut the song in the middle of the MV or if the story mainly at the beginning is very long and it takes ages to start the song (if it is in the end don´t bother me so much). So when they release this type of MV with a long story (and specially without showing the choreo/dance), I prefer that they also release an performance/choreography version MV. Usually it will be this MV only with the dance that i will see because it is easier to pay attention to the song itself. If it is not possible the label release one i usually search on youtube for someone kind enough that did an edit version/clean version of the MV (sometimes i even do it myself if i dont find any). for example i searched one for BAP skydive without the story in the middle where they cut the song and I ended up finding it

ana_martins Monday, November 21, 2016

i forget to say that MV with supposedly with theories are annoying to me too i am here for the song not to fry my brains XD Until a while ago the only theories I knew was to unravel what would be the next concept of my favorite groups with the crappy clues they give to us (*cough*SuperJunior*cough*IAmStillWaitingForTheGreekGodsConceptsThatSomeFansTookAwayFromYourCrappyClues*cough)

jayymeeeeps Monday, November 21, 2016

cant leave out vixx when talking about unique mvs and concepts :3 just check out error mv, its my all time fave

SicaLicka Monday, November 21, 2016

i thought drugs, sex, money, cars, and a bunch of black people with dreads was what makes an MV great....i guess i was way off

Naruta Monday, November 21, 2016

I like EXO and I like "Growl". But the MV is boring as hell and I´d rather watch one of their live performances of that song than the MV. I dont quite agree with the author in most of the parts, since every other line contains BTS. They aren´t definitely the only ones with meaningful MV´s, other examples besides would have been nice. And B.A.P. - I really like them a lot, they have been through so much. But "Skydive" was a tad bit too much blood, too much action movie, too much of almost everything. I really had to focus on the song, it´s a good one, but it almost got behind the pictures of the MV. As much as i like such MV´s full of art and meaning and all - sometimes the dance version or dance practice is the only way to really recognize the song and the artist clearly.

choi_an_ni Monday, November 21, 2016

Having story line mv actually a good idea. I was captivated by both story plot  and song for BTS. It also tells you the real message they want to deliver through the song. And as for I Need U, the views is less since it has two version with Original version come out late.

catgoh1992 Monday, November 21, 2016

For MVs having theories, I think the best goes to Sunny Hill's song like Pray, Midnight Circus and Grasshopper song. It brings out a message they wanna convey and not losing out the creativity in MV making. I enjoy MV with more story to show though I am not good in deciphering them.

diela_uknow7 Monday, November 21, 2016

Almost every paragraph contain BTS

really_me Monday, November 21, 2016

i have to disagree with the part about bts, i've never once been to distracted by theories that i couldn't listen to the song, and new people obviously aren't going to be concerned with theories, and even without the meaning the mvs are beautiful.

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