5 Favorite K-pop MVs of 2016

Another wonderful year of K-pop music videos; here are some of my favorites.

  1. “Blood Sweat & Tears” by BTS

Just when I thought I couldn’t love BTS any more, they came out with their Wings album this year.  This video, aside from the catchy song, has great choreography and complex scenery, plus the classic BTS cryptic/philosophical story.  Normally I hate it when MVs put a break in the middle of the song, but I didn’t mind it so much here.  Rap Monster is reciting lines from Hesse’s Demian; sales of this book have apparently jumped haha.

2. “Sayonara Hitori” by Taemin

Who knew SHINee’s maknae Taemin was actually an anime character?  Between the special effects and Taemin’s dancing, this is probably the most visually amazing MV I saw all year.  I also loved that this is the Japanese version (which I can understand better–and I think his Japanese has improved).

3. “Whistle” by BLACKPINK

I’m not the only one who loves this video, because it just won best MV at the 2016 MAMAs.  This rookie group is helping to fill a part of the 2NE1-shaped hole in my heart.  These four girls have such great style and attitude.  They already have four great songs out (“Playing with Fire” is another favorite), and I have a feeling I’ll be a fan for years to come.

4. “Cheer Up” and “TT” by TWICE

TWICE is back again this year with two cute videos.  I embedded “Cheer Up” because I think it’s marginally more original.  Each of the girls is playing a character in a different genre of movie (horror, action, romantic drama, kawaii magical girl, etc.), which is a fun way to play up some different tropes and give each girl a distinct personality (kind of important when there’s nine of them).  “TT” also has a cute use of Halloween costumes to achieve the same effect.

5. “I Like That” by SISTAR

While SISTAR is a very talented group, I’ve never really been a fan because their videos tend to be gratuitously sexy, to the point that I’m uncomfortable.  But this video has a very classy style of sexy, with a Chinese theme and some interesting choreography using their drape skirts.  The use of silhouettes near the end is also very striking.

Other Honorable Mentions:

  1. “Hate” by 4Minute—Before they broke up, Hyuna’s former group 4Minute gave us a follow-up to last year’s “Crazy.”  This one was produced by Skrillex, so wait for the drop.
  2. “Liar Liar” by Oh My Girl—From another younger girl group, this video has some great transitions, and I liked the references to Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland.  They also did a dance version wearing roller skate shoes!
  3. “Queen” by History—We needed some more guys on this list, and who can resist guys in suits? I don’t know what the part with the puzzle is about at all, but the rest is pure eye candy.
  4. “I’m Jelly BABY” by AOA Cream—I know I’ve said I don’t like cutesy concepts, but this one by the subgroup of AOA is so over-the-top with its magical girl theme, I just can’t resist.
  5. “Why Not” by Bulldok—Also known as “How’s This?”–this song is the debut of another tough girl group.  The first rapper looks straight out of Sucker Punch, and the second seems like she’s in a Final Fantasy game.

What do they (nearly) all have in common?

I was just reading this somewhere and it made me laugh; if you watch all these, you can see a trend appear: having all the members sit around a table.  Four or five of these videos have that trope (you can even see it in the thumbnail for “Blood Sweat & Tears), plus a few others I can think of (like Red Velvet’s “Russian Roulette”).  Too funny!

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K-pop MVs: SHINee’s “Lucifer”

I think we can sum up this video with one of its top comments on YouTube: “R.i.p. for all the shawols [SHINee fans] who tried to learn this dance.”

SHINee is known for their amazing dancing and choreography, and this is one of their best.

The members (in the order they start singing):

  • Onew (0:04)—leader, lead vocalist
  • Taemin (0:11)—main dancer, vocalist, maknae
  • Jonghyun (0:12)—main vocalist
  • Key (0:58)—vocalist, lead rapper
  • Minho (1:40)—main rapper, visual

“Main” is ranked higher than “lead” in these positions.  The leader is typically the oldest, and the maknae is the baby of the group.  The visual is basically the most attractive member who does promotional activities.

Things I love about this video:

  • Taemin’s long hair and Key’s half-mohawk thing…or whatever is going on with his hair, I like it
  • Jonghyun looks better in a backless shirt than most women
  • Wouldn’t be a K-pop video without pretty cars
  • Taemin looks so into the dancing at 1:46! Adorable.
  • The special effects are actually pretty cool; the song is kind of about feeling bewitched by a girl (“Her whisper is the Lucifer”) and trying to break free
  • I said last time my drinking game for SHINee would be a shot every time one of them touches his mouth in some way, and that continues to be true in this video
  • The Japanese version MV has the same great choreography, but incorporates some of the splash dancing they did in their RingDingDong video.

 More from SHINee:

K-pop MVs: SHINee’s “RingDingDong”

Many of you probably only know K-pop from Psy’s Gangam Style and Gentleman, so let’s begin your real K-pop education now.  Every month or so I’ll feature one of my favorite music videos for your enjoyment.  Let’s start with one of the first MVs I watched:

This is SHINee, my favorite Korean boy group, and the song is Ring Ding Dong, released in 2009.  It’s a great catchy song, although it’s a little heavy on the Auto-Tune (which these guys don’t need…).

The members (in the order they start singing):

  • Jonghyun (0:02)—main vocalist
  • Key (0:33)—vocalist, lead rapper
  • Onew (0:39)—leader, lead vocalist
  • Taemin (0:48)—main dancer, vocalist, maknae
  • Minho (2:20)—main rapper, visual

“Main” is ranked higher than “lead” in these positions.  The leader is typically the oldest, and the maknae is the baby of the group.  The visual is basically the most attractive member.

Things I love about this video:

  • Jonghyun’s hair.  This is probably my favorite look for him, especially in the white jacket.
  • Taemin randomly drinking milk at 0:49.
  • The choreography is fabulous (and the water is visually cool).  It really highlights Taemin, who is one of the best dancers in K-pop.
  • Ok, so my drinking game for SHINee would be a shot every time one of them touches his mouth in some way.  Seriously, watch again and tell me it’s not true.

 More from SHINee: