<<Trigger warning: suicide, domestic violence, and sexual harassment are shown in some of these music videos (and all are briefly mentioned in this post) so please view responsibly.>>
<<Spoiler warning: this post will contain brief discussions of the music videos’ contents…which I hope kind of goes without saying but I still feel that I should include this warning anyways.>>
Usually, a music video’s vibe is pretty clear from the start, but once in a while we get a gem proving that first impressions are not always right. So today I thought it’d be fun to take a look at five music videos from the world of K-pop that really throw viewers for a loop. The only specific criteria is that these music videos start out as one might imagine, and then take sudden and unforeseen turns into dark (and quite disturbing, in some cases) territory. I hesitate to use the term “twist” because while some of these do have twists, not every single one does; instead, some just turn into far darker stories than they initially appear to be. Either way, each of these music videos truly surprised me as I watched — and as a bonus, each one left me thinking afterwards, too.
(For ease in both writing and reading this post, I am placing a blanket disclaimer here that every time I mention one of the idols in the music video, I am referring to the persona or character they are playing in the music video, and not to that idol him- or herself.)
These are in no particular order. Please enjoy.
‘365 Fresh’ – Triple H
What starts out looking like a nighttime joyride through the city turns into an ominous ending for this seemingly-carefree trio.
Dawn is dealing with suicidal thoughts and actions, Hui is cornered by what appear to be debt-collectors, and HyunA owns a barber shop or salon where she accidentally kills a customer in self-defense after he harasses her. The two boys meet up with her and the three of them spend most of the music video running from the law (hence, the joyride) — but not before getting into all kinds of wild shenanigans. Everything comes to an extremely sober halt at the end of the music video when the three clasp hands and jump off of a building together.
HyunA’s unintentional killing in the beginning already surprised me — but the group suicide at the end definitely comes as a shock, especially considering how the music video begins. A particularly unnerving aspect is how the trio keep smiles on their faces as they party their way through the bleak night…only to culminate in tragedy.
‘All In’ – MONSTA X
A stunning sci-fi setting holds dark and deadly secrets in a music video that has sent fans into absolute whirlwinds of theories.
In a distopian world, the village where the boys live has been taken over by some sort of military force. While each member has a character arc, the one I’m going to focus on for now is Hyungwon’s.
Hyungwon’s father (in the music video) doesn’t like his son’s rebellion against whatever force has taken over their town, so he brutally beats him (not on-screen, but we see the aftermath). After Minhyuk finds Hyunwon’s hidden bruises, he seeks revenge by burning down Hyungwon’s dad’s store/house/church (as far as I know, no one has agreed on what it is for certain).
Hyungwon’s storyline ends tragically, as we see when he lays unresponsive in a bathtub. However, his hand twitches ever so slightly in a later shot, so the speculations are that he ends up living, presumably because of whatever liquid magic Minhyuk poured into the bathtub. This starts getting into fan theory territory — which is extensive, let me assure you — so I’ll leave it here for now. I will say this, though: as far as music videos that should be made into entire dramas, this one tops the list for me.
I was expecting a more heavy/serious tone to the music video because of the armed guards and clear oppression we see in the first few scenes, but Hyungwon’s abusive dad and eventual (presumed) death definitely took me by surprise.
Oh, and we aren’t even going to start talking about the bonfire scene because that’s just on its own level altogether. If you know, you know.
‘You In Me’ – KARD
Lyrics singing of possessiveness hint at something far more sinister than two couples simply spending the night at a motel….
We open to two separate couples in a dank motel; J-seph and Jiwoo eat a fancy feast while dressed to the nines, and BM and Somin lounge about in the next room. The song is going along as one might expect, when both boys suddenly go dead-white and limp. So, like…they’re dead.
And they were killed by the girls.
And it also heavily implies how the girls killed them.
And the girls continue to interact with them as if they were alive.
So yes, there’s that. To say it’s disturbing is quite the understatement. I was expecting a darker storyline because of the backlit dance sequences and the entire aura of the music video, but I definitely was not expecting what we got. Also, if I remember correctly, this is one of the few KARD music videos that has more of a specific, defined storyline that focuses on the plot and acting with not quite as much focus on the dancing itself (though the dancing it has is awesome, of course!). Leave it to KARD to keep us on our toes.
Speaking of dancing, this is the only music video on this list to include group dance sequences. Not sure how significant that is in the grand scheme of themes, but I found that fact interesting.
‘Blood Sweat & Tears’ (Japanese version) – BTS
I’ve been trying to make the first line of each of these a little teeny summary of the music video, but I don’t even know how to summarize this one because like…BTS music videos, amirite?
So, this one starts out pretty normally for a BTS music video. We see the wings on Jungkook’s mattress as he sits up and countless other links to other music videos in the Bangtan Universe. I won’t even attempt to get into the cavernous rabbit hole of the Bangtan Universe — or any of the fan theories attached to it — because I’m trying to write a blog post, not a novel.
Anyways, like I was saying, RM and Jungkook are sitting at a long dinner table and things are looking pretty normal, but suddenly RM gets up and forces Jungkook to drink something. Next thing we know, JK is running to the bathroom, vomiting into the toilet, and passing out on the floor. The music video only escalates from there, culminating in a physical fight between Jin and V in the kitchen, after which we see V walking up the stairway to the roof, dragging a knife against the wall as he smiles. Yikes. Did not see that coming.
I’d say the cinematography of the music video is as unnerving as the story itself. Psychedelic colors and wide-angle lenses visually aid in the chaotic separation from reality. Personally, I think this one almost makes ‘Idol’ look tame.
‘Dinosaur’ – AKMU
Stranger Things vibes permeate a story about a brother and sister looking for an ever-elusive (and questionably-real) dinosaur.
If someone were to argue with any music video being on this list, I would expect it to be this one. And that’s totally fair; ‘Dinosaur’ doesn’t actually have anything disturbing happen onscreen. The whole “this is a lot darker than I first thought it would be” element comes more from the lyrics and fan theories than from the actual music video itself. So maybe this one is a stretch, but I still strongly think it deserves to be on the list. Hear me out:
We watch the siblings as they travel by bike or on foot through a forest, across mountains and fields, and even to the beach as they search for a dinosaur. Though the music video does show a physical dinosaur at one point, it can most definitely be symbolic. What it symbolizes is the real question.
People have put out some really cool ideas: it might represent courage that Chan Hyuk wishes he had when dealing with his bullies, or peace Su Hyun (who is possibly plagued with anxiety) longs for. Some have even said the siblings might be running away from home because of abuse of some sort. There are definitely a lot of interesting thoughts out there — and judging by the video itself and the English translation of the lyrics, I think there are a number of ways the song can be interpreted.
Something I find particularly noteworthy is how the children seem both fearful of the dinosaur and eager to find it. Hmm.
Leaving so much open to interpretation was a neat move on the creators’ part. That, paired with the aforementioned Stranger Things-esque aura, definitely gives a sort of dark adventure, sci-fi feel.
And though we didn’t get any literal surprise twists like some of the other music videos, a seemingly-straightforward fairytale-like story that actually poses a number of deep questions is a great surprise in my book.
What did you think of the list? Any music videos you want to add? Feel free to comment and join in the conversation!
As always, thank you for reading! Until next post, friends.
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