|GIF credit: fantasticji|
What mars my enjoyment G-Dragon's latest music videos is that he prioritises aesthetics over narratives. It's been a bit of a trend with YG groups in particular - flashy sets, costumes and entire 'concepts' constructed that ultimately occupies about 40 seconds of air time in total. It's designed for less effort, maximum fanservice and visual explosions to cover up repetitive music and dazzle the eye. It's safe - G-Dragon is just more elaborate about it.
To be fair, if all storyline music videos are as nonsensical and plot-hole-y as the Growl Drama MV, I understand why they'd try to take the safe route. But, personally, I've had enough of 'safe' K-Pop music videos.
Good music videos enhance a song and promote the singer/group. They tell a story, communicate a concept - they are the song in visual form. If it's K-pop, it wants to make the artist look good (usually cool, if it's a male artist). If it's a very well done music video, it can be subversive by deliberately tapping into the disconnect between lyrics and music or creating a sense of dramatic irony.
However, the aesthetics of any good music video should only be enough to communicate what needs to be communicated. Keep that in mind.
I've always preferred GD's rocker goth 'dark' concepts (Heartbreaker remains one of my favourite) over his wild party hip hop electro neon image (a la Crayon/One of a Kind), so I had a pretty positive initial response to the start of the video.
The aesthetics of his styling (the dip-eyed mullet emphatically excluded) - from the fashion to the sets - are things I genuinely find fascinating and they manage to be flattering as well. But there are too many concepts, too many sets, too many clothes. Going back to my first paragraph - is it necessary to communicate the concept? Not really. I get that he's going for the 'cutting edge' (debatable) concepts but the underlying theme (if any) of his song gets lost in all the visual noise and choppy editing.
The song repeats and the music progresses nowhere. The lyrics make...very little sense and seems to be an overcompensating inflation of (hashtag) swag. If he's going for irony, the irony is subtle enough to whoosh over the heads of most.
GD is not immersed in the concept. GD teleports from one concept to another, in time to broodingly stare at the camera and then teleports again. We're not drawn into any of the worlds - the visuals are moving too choppily - and that's what made the MV, as visually fascinating as it is, fall flat for me.
It's such a pity because 1:48 - 1:50, 2:04, 2:52 and 3:05 could be great concepts for their own MV and 2:53 is gorgeous styling.
Take away the costuming in your head - put GD in just a T-shirt and jeans and what does the MV become?
At least this matches the lyrics more closely, but everything in the video feels surface-level - partying, having fun and angry screaming in intervals...it explores only very few emotional dimensions of the breakup that the song is about (supposedly).
Again, the song itself is underwhelming, because I like my music to be more 'narrative' based in its progression. I kept trying to find a climax of some sort to the song but there's little build up until the very end. It's great club music though, with that catchy, repetitive vibe.
If he wasn't intending for the music to be very deep, that's fine - he's entitled to it, even if it's not personally my taste. But the music video was a chance to introduce a little more dimension and sophistication into the concept and they passed on the chance, which is a pity.
I don't begrudge GD for trying new things. I just wish he'd pick concepts sparingly and really engage with it on an aesthetic and musical level because, when he and the creative directors focus, they have the potential to make great music and music videos.
On a meta note, I've been trying to practise more article-style writing in my posts. It's not as 'easy' to read as my older MV reviews but my dot points were SUPER WORDY anyway and this actually reads more like a coherent article? I'd be interested to know if you guys think this style works better.