There are not many guarantees in life, but a Ga-In music video is one of the few things in K-pop that I go into with full confidence that it will be more than worth my time, and “Carnival” is no exception to that rule.
While these posts are usually either divided into discussing the song and the video and then how they complement each other or going into the whole project’s strengths and weaknesses, “Carnival” really doesn’t have any negatives to discuss. The whole enterprise is executed flawlessly.
The production sounds rich and extravagant, a proper mixture of a Disney show tune and old school musical that utilizes Ga-In’s wonderfully full delivery to the fullest. The end result sounds like a “Good Day” era IU banger (which is about the highest compliment that I can pay a K-pop song), only one that opts for a more self-assured steadiness rather than a masterfully manufactured peak to carry the song. “Carnival” is not necessarily experimental when it comes to its production, but it understands how to pace itself and the track remains utterly committed to its musical concept throughout.
“Carnival” is unabashedly grand and it just so happens to have a singer who knows how to navigate such bombastic waters. Ga-In convincingly seizes the song and is never overwhelmed by the assertiveness of the orchestral-sized beat that stands by her side.
The cinematic qualities of the music are somehow outdone by the video. “Carnival” is beautiful cinematography. Each shot is composed in a way that is clear AND visually interesting without the crutch of quick sequential cuts or huge light shows. The sets, while clearly sets, have the sort of depth and detail usually reserved for the theater (a balancing act that is almost assuredly purposeful).
The night-lit shots are somehow both unmistakably fantastical and yet brimming with life thanks to Ga-In’s flurry of movement, and it’s topped off by a firework-laden climax that is nothing short of ‘Where Dreams Come True’.
While “Carnival” could have ended the video there and been a damn good music video on its own, Ga-In decides to end on a quieter and more thoughtful note that also brilliantly brings the video full-circle. The easy route would have been to have the slow and somber intro lead into Ga-In’s fantastic journey, but the conclusion manages to bring that sense of solemness back into the picture.
That manages to add an emotional wrinkle that thankfully keeps “Carnival” from being overly schmaltzy. There is an unsettling vagueness to the video’s opening and ending — the white lace and full body “veil” are rife with matrimonial imagery, but the utter bleakness of the surroundings recalls a wake — that manages to elevate the surrealistic fancifulness of the main body of the MV to heights that it simply wouldn’t reach without the bleak bookends.
Unlike so many music videos that have a bare concept, a dance and enough padding to cover the song’s running time, “Carnival” manages to be a cinematic ride of its own with satisfying acts all around. Everyone else is making videos while Ga-In is making film.