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2021 – Best of Music (Video)

I normally do a Best Of, for the books I’ve read in a year. This year, because life has been so crazy, things will be a little different. I got REALLY into K-Pop during 2020/2021, and music became a much bigger part of my everyday life, so I’m splitting my posts into 4 parts: Books (Solo), Books (Series), Music (Song), Music (Video).

These videos are in no particular order, but make up the TOP 15 of videos that I’ve discovered this year. Not all of them were released in 2021, but that’s when I found, and fell in love with, them.

Seventeen : Fallin’ Flower

I utterly ADORE this video. It’s stunning, visually and lyrically and vocally. This is what you call a true piece of art. A little abstract, a little out-there, a little bit different. It’s light, bright, with lots of pastel colours that invite you in. The boys are gorgeous, as usual, and the atmosphere of the video really fits the song. Everything about it is beautiful, from the lyrical dance moves to the imagery.

OnlyOneOf : libidO

Ah, this has to be at least the top 3 of my favourite videos of this year. OnlyOneOf are a sweet, lovely bunch of guys. I highly recommend you watch the Behind the Scenes making of this video, (part 1 and part 2) because it’s amazing to see the other side to these boys, who appear so confident and sexy on stage and in this video. While they’re best friends and in a group together, they don’t joke around with the video. They take the video, and the subject matter, seriously, and talk about the relationships portrayed with serious, casual acceptance. That’s quite rare for K-Pop and Korea, to treat LGBT as an everyday matter-of-fact, rather than something other, as some tend to. For me, not only is this a sweet, fitting nod to the concept of libido (sexual desire) but they’ve really pushed the envelope with this song.

The choreography is stunning, and I highly recommend you watch the Guilty Pleasure Vers. It actually got banned/changed for music shows, because it was considered too risque, due to the homoerotic content. However, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the gentle longing, and sweet romance of the relationships they chose to portray in the video. Sure, the song is much sexier, as is the dance, but the video content was just…PERFECTION!

As an aside, K-Pop doesn’t really do much to acknowledge LGBT (or Korea, for that matter) so this song/video is HUGELY important. It’s one of the first I’ve seen with this style of sexy dance that openly acknowledges LGBT relationships, without being a playful fan-service to shippers. This song/video takes LGBT relationships seriously, portrays them positively, and – for me – is a stunning piece of ground-breaking LGBT-inspired art in the K-Pop world. The first of, what I hope is, many.

JO1 : Oh-Eh-Oh

This video-still just gives you such a great vibe. The screenshot of each member is exactly how they first appear in the video, and I’m LIVING FOR IT. Especially that half-smirk and tongue caption, because that just tells you everything abotu the attitude these boys show in this video.

However…the image is deceptive. This is a story about friendship, betrayal, and dance, about passion and life and honour. It’s got a real West Side Story vibe to it, for me. With two rival gangs going up against each other. But, there’s also a back-story that is both heartbreaking and intriguing. I found myself captivated by it.

DO please turn on the captions, if you don’t speak Japanese, because there is a bit of story dialogue inside the video that is REALLY important to understanding what’s happening. I kind of hope there’s a follow-up to this video concept, because I love it.

TO1 : Son of Beast

This is such a tune! Not only is the song great, and I love the play on words that is Son of Beast (which can be ‘I’m a Son of a Bitch’ and/or ‘I’m a beast’), but the video gives me total Fast & Furious vibes! If it’s not already part of the new F&F OST then it needs to be! This would be perfect.

I’ve been a fan of FTISLAND for a while, but for some reason, the first time I heard Severely, it didn’t leave much of an impression. It was probably to do with my mood at the time, but I grew to appreciate the song later, and then the mv BLEW. ME. AWAY! Watch it, and you will be stunned by the incredible storytelling. The plot is clever, heartbreaking and like watching a movie you wish had a different ending!

Lay really knows how to make an impact. This is one of those videos that, once you see it once, you’ll never forget. It’s got total vibes of The Untamed, of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and is still totally unique.

Seventeen are, by far, the MOST epic K-Pop group when it comes to combining unforgettable tunes with intense, CRYSTAL clear choreography, and beautiful videos. This has to be one of my Top 10 EVER choreos.

Take a look at ANY Dreamcatcher mv if you want a girl group who ROCK, with gorgeous aesthetic videos. I had a hard time choosing which one to include, but went with Scream because it’s such an epic tune.

And let’s not forget their intensely creepy video for Piri. To my understanding, the meaning is similar to the British Pied Piper, calling their victims to their fate.

I would be remiss in mentioning kick-ass female K-Pop artists if I didn’t mention (G)Idle. These women are Queens.

Of course, I can’t have a mv countdown without ATEEZ. They’re my ult group, and MINGI IS BACK. This is NOT a drill. After months of stepping back to take care of his mental health, MINGI IS BACK! Looking great, too, might I add. And with this bop of a new single. After all the Matrix vibes I’m getting from this – and ATEEZ recently breaking into the US with a collab with Pentatonix – I will be gutted if this isn’t in Matrix 4’s OST.

And who can forget that B.I. – our beloved leader of iKON – made his solo comeback recently. I instantly fell in love with Waterfall and illa illa. I chose the performance version of Waterfall, because of its cinematic nature, but definitely turn ON the subtitles, because this is a powerful song that really hits hard when you know B.I.’s personal struggles.

It would be wrong to not include Taemin. He joined the military this year, but left us with this EPIC addition to his catalogue. Not only does he double-down on the INFAMOUS choreo of Move and Criminal, but he does it with style. The choreo, cinematography, and ultimate visuals of this video meant I would have deserved a slap for not including it. If you don’t know Taemin or his groundbreaking, revolutionary choreography, I suggest you go watch the videos or dance practice for Move, Criminal, Famous and…well, anything by Taemin.

This one is from two years ago, but the video is just *chef’s kiss* Bang Yongguk was the leader, and my bias, of B.A.P. – featured later – and the first to go solo. The story is…complicated. It seems the company pushed him out earlier than he planned. Bang had gone through literal YEARS of depression and suicidal thoughts, struggling with his role as the leader, and when he went solo, he had diaries of emotions that he put into songs.

Hikikomori was one of those songs and it hits HARD. If you don’t know, Hikikomori is a term for a section of Japanese society who hide away from the world, sometimes in one room or never leaving home, due to mental health issues or because they no longer want to deal with the outside world. They struggle with social constructs, and Bang uses this term to describe how he’s a public face but sometimes wishes he could escape the world.

Warning: the video can be hard to watch, only because Bang lays out his mental health with a visual duality that hits home. There is nothing overly disturbing in the video, but rather a feeling and atmosphere that hits deep.

Finally, we’re going to throw it RIGHT back to 6 YEARS ago, to before HyunA was an epic solo artist and was still part of 4Minute. Their video for Crazy wins MAJOR points for me, for the strong, fesity women who weren’t afraid to get a little crazy, feisty, and show that women could be badass, strong and still sexy without compromising.

SPECIAL MENTION

The award for BEST STORYTELLING in a mv goes to the K-Pop group B.A.P. You could honestly watch any of their videos and be transported into a movie, but my favourites are:

There is an AMAZING story with this mv, but make sure you watch until the end, because there is a Rewind for an alternative ending!

Again, watch to the end, because this is an intricate plot with various moving parts, and you need to watch to the end to fully comprehend the GENIUS level of storytelling.

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