HyunA recently returned with “Lip & Hip“, and like most of her singles since “Red“, it didn’t pique my interest musically. However, the music video did make me take interest (no, not like that), or at least it did in the contrast to the reaction to it.
You can browse around elsewhere, but whether it’s Korean netizens or international netizens, generally speaking the consensus is “Lip & Hip” is a trashy-ass mess and HyunA needs to stop being such a slut. Yeesh.
Look, I’m not here to pretend everything HyunA does has some kind of grand meaning to it, nor am I trying to convince you that every zoom on her ass or gratuitous cleavage shot is some kind of empowerment angle, because definitely part of her appeal is just being shamelessly fun, fierce, and sexy. However, it’s bizarre to me that these people are using “Lip & Hip” as the effort to call out for being pointless when it definitely has meaning behind it and it’s not even something one needs to reach for because it’s rather obvious.
It starts with a girl in her room thinking about going for a maturer image, which one could get from the music video, but HyunA also sings, “I want to dress up today … a little bit bolder.”
Later it cuts to two versions of the girl in the room: her current persona and her desired persona, where one acts innocent and clumsy while the other is eye-fucking the mirror and blowing kisses to it.
Then come the girl’s braces, and the amount of netizens who couldn’t figure out why the braces scene was included baffled me, as it’s rather cliche imagery and used to signify the innocence of her current persona. Anyway, the girl proceeds to rip that shit off and it becomes confetti as she throws it (freedom and fun, yay), then she immediately experiments by kissing the television screen when she sees a couple making out. It’s about the transition the girl wants to make, which is clear when HyunA sings, “It might be my last chance, I won’t hide it any longer, time flies, it doesn’t wait for us, wherever you’re being led, don’t stop.”
Additionally, the music video shows the girl’s intentions with images of sexy bodies plastered on her bathroom wall along with “no smoking” and “low fat” appearing on the sink cabinet, and instead of eating the fry she just sucks the ketchup off. These are among the things the girl feels she must do to become who she wants to be.
The duality expressed by the transitions between her current persona and her desired persona are also rather obvious. A cigarette becomes a french fry, hugging a dancer wearing a clear shirt (from JYP‘s wardrobe) becomes a teddy bear, red panties are put on as white panties are dropped (shout out to Betsy‘s timing on color theory), and so on.
So there’s the real world and her current persona but also a fantasy world with her desired persona, and the two are interacting in her mind, which we know because that’s how the panties get into her room to begin with.
If you wanted to do more, you could breakdown more of the music video shot-for-shot, but I’m gonna skip to the end because I’m lazy. That’s where HyunA proceeds to squish ripe tomatoes (tits/balls) flat in the fantasy world, and she immediately exits her imagination back into the real world, where she makes herself proper again, representing her suppression of her desires.
The final shot drives home that what we saw in the music video happened in her imagination, as she’s not wearing the red panties but white panties again. It also says that while she may do as she’s supposed to on the outside to keep up appearances, likely due to external pressure, there’s still the wilder side behind all that waiting to be unleashed.
Even just on the surface level, the music video is a story about a girl who is battling what she is versus what she wants to be, likely against the tides of societal norms and expectations. That alone is more substance than the accusations of being a dumb, random vehicle for HyunA to whore it up or whatever. But going further (and I think correctly), it’s a rather standard coming-of-age tale that expresses a girl coming to terms with her newly-found sexuality. Almost like Ga-In‘s “Bloom“, but instead of “classy-sexy” it’s in … well, HyunA’s style.
I understand that not everybody gives a fuck about this kind of stuff, and that’s fine, but if you’re gonna haul off and give your HAWT TAEKS about how much this is just HyunA being a filthy whore, then you’d think one could spend that energy on actually watching the music video and comprehending shit. I swear this is like IU‘s “Twenty-Three” with how obvious the meaning was, but people still missed it. Though at least instead of being accused of pedophilia, HyunA is just being accused of having a vacuous slutty concept.
In all this mess, one comment in particular stood out to me, because it touches on exactly what she’s doing but is so far away from getting it.
Correct, that’s the point. HyunA and “Lip & Hip” push the boundaries a bit, because maybe she thinks the boundaries are fucked up. Those boundaries say as long as the sexuality is dog-whistle innocent and sexy with a subtle class, then it’s fine, but when it’s aggressive and upfront then it’s a trashy problem.
Perhaps thinking about those standards of acceptability, or at least questioning them like HyunA has seemed to make many do over the years, wouldn’t be the worst thing? Interesting to ponder at least, which makes “Lip & Hip” anything but pointless.