Has anyone seen Jolin Tsai‘s new MV for “The Great Artist“?
I know I’m two months late to this, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate what I’m assuming has been on the mind of everyone who’s seen this MV and is familiar with K-pop — Why the hell did SM buy those matrix cameras again?
I ask because I haven’t seen a MV of this caliber out of SM Entertainment, culture technology or no. Yes, I admit, Jolin was dancing in a box just like SM’s finest by the end of those four minutes, but the first three minutes was a special effects extravaganza, the kind of which I’ve rarely seen in K-pop (the main exception being Yoon Mi Rae‘s MV for “Get It In“).
Now before you depart off into the interwebs thinking I’m an SM hater, I’ll say two things in defense of SM.
First of all, that culture technology stuff (sort of) works. I took CT with a grain of salt, given my (apparently quaint and outdated) sentiments that music is an art, but the emphasis on the importance of camera angles was spot on. While watching the video, I couldn’t help but notice how … not long … Jolin’s limbs were. SM, you’ve trained my eyes to expect golden proportioned limbs through the use of deceiving camera angles! Curse you and your team of optical illusion experts! Secondly, Jolin is no BoA when it comes to dancing. Hell, she’s no Sulli. Her dance moves looked awkward, jerky, and sometimes unpleasant to look at. Again, I blame SM for spoiling my eyes with years of perfectly in-sync choreography.
But getting off the SME train here, the costumes were also of note, as they gave YG Entertainment a run for their money. The steampunk-meets-TRON aesthetic, implanted in the Absolut Vodka-sponsored universe of Swedish House Mafia‘s “Greyhound“ worked strangely well.
And the Western extras? Despite K-pop’s (and maybe this could be a general quality that applies to Asian pop music as a category) annoying penchant for the completely gratuitous use of white (usually female) extras — my pet peeve — in this MV, it worked, and the MV was better for it.
As a bonus, the masquerade ball theme reminded me of everything SHINee‘s Japanese PV for “Juliette” could have been. The Lego glasses were cool and all, but Jolin has you roundly beat, boys.
Quite frankly, it’s shocking how little K-pop music videos have changed in the past few years, even though CGI and live-motion graphics technology has improved by leaps and bounds.
For all the hoopla over how K-pop is becoming “Asian pop”, there are some glaring qualifications that need to be addressed before any of The Big Three can start giving themselves accolades for being so ubiquitous in Asia. Like the quality of MVs — as clearly there are others in Asia (let alone the world) that can do a better job.
Stagnation is never a good look.
Marissa Pak is a syndicated blogger who writes for McRoth’s Residence & Asian Junkie. She also posts K-pop commentary on her own website (MarissaPak.com), and you can tweet her at @MarissaPak or stalk her on Facebook. Her primary interest is making music as TESTAMENTVM on YouTube.