[Review] Ga-In’s ‘Paradise Lost’ is perfect

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As great as Ga-In is in the Brown Eyed Girls, her solo releases are highlights in their own right. Whether it’s the positive outlook on female sexuality of “Bloom” or the serious take on domestic sexual abuse in “Fxxk U,” Ga In is no stranger to tackling subjects and themes that most K-pop acts would never dream of touching. “Paradise Lost” falls in the same vein of Ga-In’s previous works. It’s a mature take on a mature subject matter that is done absolutely perfectly.

There is a cinematic quality to “Paradise Lost” that elevates it beyond usual pop fare. An eerie string intro perfectly transitions into an organ riff that is equally chilling and rich. It’s a perfect setup for the sparse percussion and keys that, along with some fantastic echoing production on the backing track vocals, do a great job of slowly building to one of the most wonderfully constructed choruses of the year. The chorus is at once deliberate and strong, but it never becomes plodding thanks to a combination of some epic keys and Ga-In’s ability to puncture through the music with a fierceness that borders on violent. The interplay of lightness and heaviness is well-balanced throughout “Paradise Lost”, as raspy snare bits play off of distorted strings and bass. To top it all off, the organ brings a grandiosity to the single that cannot be denied. By the time that the organ closes the song, one is left breathless by the four-minute opera that they’ve just experienced.

As great as the production is, it wouldn’t be quite as successful without Ga-In’s brilliant presence on the track. While her range isn’t remarkable, Ga-In’s ability to emote and flip between a whisper and a strong bellow at a moment’s notice are her greatest assets in “Paradise Lost.” The way that she plays with the verses is akin to the way a cat plays with a mouse. The aforementioned choruses are thoroughly owned through a mixture of deliberateness and confidence. “Paradise Lost” has to have a vocalist who could match its theatricality and not get lost in the swirl of organs, strings, and somber percussion, and Ga-In doesn’t just meet that challenge, she bowls over it.

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As great as the song is, the video is even better. While the music video itself largely features Ga-In performing choreography, dismissing it as a dance-in-a-box video would be a disservice to it. “Paradise Lost” utilizes blue lighting but it never devolves into ‘Bourne Identity‘ staleness thanks to some black and white shots, a choreo set that is draped in a brilliant gold, and the greenest snake that I’ve ever seen. Also, unlike a lot of dance-in-a-box videos, “Paradise Lost” mostly focuses on the choreography, something which is not only appreciated for coherency’s sake, but something that is also very thematically appropriate. Between the snake, the song’s title, and the album’s title, it’s not much a stretch to say that temptation is a pretty big theme of “Paradise Lost.” Through Ga-In’s screen presence and some smart direction, “Paradise Lost” visually nails that theme.

While Ga-In’s choreography and dress are undoubtedly sexual, what comes through most strongly is Ga-In’s sheer physicality. The precision and strength in the Ga-In’s moves is breathtaking, and when she slithers about it’s clear that while one can enjoy the beauty of what Ga-In can do with her body, none of it is meant to be owned or obtainable by the viewer. Quite clearly, Ga-In is dancing for herself (it’s no coincidence that mirrors are featured quite prominently in the video and that the only time that men are featured, they are nothing but naked mounds of flesh that Ga-In doesn’t so much as deign with a glance).

It is rare to find a music video that is so well-thought out, but the fact that Ga-In managed to make such a provocative and smart video isn’t surprising given her track record.

“Paradise Lost” works just fine as a song, but it is really taken to a whole other level thanks to the video. Unlike so many K-pop concepts that feel tacked on or seemingly thrown together to capitalize on some trend (see every goddamn butt dance out there right now), all of the components of “Paradise Lost” make sense. The operatic choice of instrumentals lends an epicness to a video that pulls no punches in design, composition, or choreography.

Ga-In throws herself into the project with a determination that one can hear in her voice and see in her moves. Taken together, “Paradise Lost” is the best music video I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s not even particularly close.

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