The year I got into Kpop they made their comeback with Lipstick, an incredibly catchy song with an equally amazing and funny video. It was obvious that this sub-unit (well, they're honestly more like their own group to be honest) did not want to stay inside the box. Everything was exaggerated, comedic and not taking itself too seriously, which is so refreshing to see. For this comeback, the girls dress up as food and no matter how strange it is, it's ever so fascinating.
There's two sides to this video, the shallow one and the deep one. I like how you can choose for yourself what it is you want to see and how you want to watch the video. Obviously, it's ridiculous, but what else is there to expect? A short recap of the video for those who find it confusing (trust me, I did too the first 5 times I watched it): The three girls are mermaids, posing happily and prettily on the beach, but then they get caught in order to be sold. In the beginning their prices are 4000 won, but the price keeps getting reduced until they're put on a "3 for 1" sale. Next to them lies the expensive female octopus, played by male comedian Kim Daesung. She is obviously very proud of her high price and is not afraid to show it.
The next part of the story is how they become sushi, quite literally. Nana poses as salmon, Lizzy as shrimp and Raina as mackerel. They're being sold at a very low price again, and the fancy octopus still has the highest worth. They are put on plates and brought to a sushi bar to be eaten, and as they go around and around they look at octopus with admiration and idolization. In the end, after various costumers have arrived and eaten, only the four of them remain. The turning point in this video is where all three girls now enter the shop themselves, looking pitiably at the items left, and then they eat themselves. Some tears fall down their cheeks as they remember when they were mermaids, where they could swim around freely. The video ends with a shot of that goddamn octopus still spinning around the table, keeping all its tentacles intact.
What is there to say about the plot then? Well, I think it's very interesting, actually. Like I said, you can either just enjoy it for its bizarreness and uniqueness, or you can try to find out if it has any deeper meaning. If you take a look at the lyrics for the song, it tells a story about Catallena, roughly meaning a girl that is immature and a bit mean, but she is still charismatic enough for you to want to be close to her. This is played out very clearly in the video, as the octopus is the object for these admiring actions. However, as Catallena is not always very nice, the octopus is seen snarking and looking down at the the girls. The much higher price also symbolizes her popularity and status, and even though she is arrogant, even the girls can't help falling for her and wanting to be like her.
Now that we have established who Catallena actually is, everything in the video suddenly makes a lot more sense. Even if you just watch it for the laughs, you can understand how the plot reflects the lyrics, even though it's very over the top. Almost so much that the actual massage gets lost in all the crazy sets, outfits and props, but I still think it's fairly easy to make out.
What I find particularly interesting is the larger parallels that can be drawn from this particular video. The tears at the end is what made me think that maybe there are more than one layer to the plot. They seemed too important to be just randomly thrown in there, and I think they must play a very significant part.
If I was to look past the fact that they're dressed up like food, I think the message is pretty clear. It's a story of failure. The girls were happy in the beginning, they were full of confidence, happiness and hope. One could think that they had a dream, and that they were confident in achieving that dream. I know some people have drawn a parallel to the entertainment industry itself, and I think that is a very logical interpretation. They were once so full of life, freedom and potential, but were later caught and put behind locked bars. This could mean how entertainment companies take talented, passionate trainees and debut them, turning them into products to be sold. The reduced prices symbolize how companies take extreme measures to grab attention, just like how many girl groups have been using their sexuality recently to make their names known. Even though they try, no one wants to buy them, they don't manage to become successful, and that's when they eat themselves. I suppose this could mean several things, but I personally think it means that the girls are looking at what they've become and realizing that they're not going to reach their goals. The only ones to show interest in them are themselves. Now, this could not only apply to the entertainment industry, but I'd say the chances are higher because they are in it themselves and have probably felt all of these feelings and experienced the ups-and-downs first hand. Although, It could also represent the issue of loosing yourself and what you originally worked so hard for in order to reach achieve your dreams.
Where do Catallena come in then? What's her importance?From what I could make out, both from the lyrics and plot, is that Catallena has what the girls want to have. She has the popularity and the status, and probably possesses a position that is desirable. Maybe I'm overanalyzing this and it's really only about having girl crushes, but that's what I said about taking your pick, painting your own image on what you think this video could mean.
Every other aspect of this video is very much what you would expect from a group like this. A lot of people like to call Orange Caramel a "cute" group, because girls groups can obviously only be sexy or cute, but I think they are much more than that. This group tries new things, they aren't afraid to look silly or even a bit crazy, and they provide such enjoyable watching. The visuals in this video are amazing. They look ridiculous, but that's what makes them so charming. The nightgown-like dresses, polka dots, mermaid tails and sushi outfits are creative and innovative, and the sets are just as strange as they are appropriate for the concept.
All the girls look fabulous, and I love that even though the have the most questionable concepts, they are so confident in themselves and what they stand for. No matter how much you dislike the song or the "cuteness", you can't deny that this is a breath of fresh air in such a homogeneous industry where most songs sound like each other (yes, I'm looking at you Brave Brothers) and most groups look like each other too.
Orange Caramel makes me genuinely interested and intrigued and excited for what they might do next, but than again I love everything that involves Nana so I guess I'm a pretty easy target.
However, that doesn't take away the fact that this video manages to be both funny, cute and silly but also contains a deep, well thought-out message even though it's conveyed via food.
I guess all methods work, right?