This woman is just amazing. She might not be that much of a rapper, or a singer either for that part, but when she is on that stage, she owns it. There's really no other idol who possess that much stage presence, charisma and eye-catching confidence. She is beautiful, sexy and knows exactly what she's doing. Her company knows of this too, and Cube wants to push that sexiness as much as they can. Sometimes they fail, like with "Ice Cream" two years ago, but this time they've pretty much hit the nail on the head.
First of all, the song featured in this video. It's not like it's the main focus or point of any Hyuna release, but unless you want to wear earplugs and just enjoy the eye candy (believe me, there are plenty of those kind of videos), the song needs to be talked about at least for a few sentences more. Right off the bat, this track really gets stuck on your mind. It has a nice beat and the repetitive chorus, while a bit grating mostly due to Hyuna's whiny tone, is actually not bad at all. It's no "Bubble Pop", but it's still a strong comeback title.
The lyrics however, are just really strange. The chorus reads: "A monkey’s butt is red, what. Red is Hyuna, Hyuna is yeah." and the rest of the song is really only about how sexy and desirable she is, including comparisons between herself and spicy ramen. The concept behind this comeback lies within a South Korean nursery rhyme that I had never heard of before, and it's actually a very clever idea to replace the association with the color red and an apple with Hyuna's image instead. The plan is to create an association with Hyuna when you hear the word "red", and it fits her strong, passionate and powerful stage persona well so I don't see why not. However, the lyrics are still really weird, no matter the context.
This video is memorable for many reasons, the main one being Hyuna's flawless visuals, but the theme of the video is not something seen a lot in K-pop. The same cannot be said for western pop music. Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry anyone? I can't be the only one seeing the resemblance between a few of the scenes and this video and the American superstars videos for "Can't Stop" and "Dark Horse". I wasn't really a fan of either of those videos, but Hyuna makes it work somehow. The color red is also heavily incorporated into the video, such as red backgrounds and sets, props, clothes and makeup. The contrast between Hyuna's black hair and bright red lips looks gorgeous, and since her skin is quite fair as well it enhances the combination even more. At first sight, you might think some parts of the video seem both random and odd, such as all the various monkeys incorporated into basically every other scene, but the nursery rhyme the song is based does mention monkeys (and bananas) and so does the lyrics for the song. Of course it still out of the ordinary, but who doesn't love animals? Or Hyuna dressed up as bunny?
Now about the cultural appropriation. This is a problem that seems to never want to vanish, and most of the reason why is because of ignorance and general lack of knowledge. The video for Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" was one of the worst videos I've seen on this front, and while "Red" doesn't come anywhere close to that, it's still there. The Egyptian inspired part of the video, although visually appealing, is a bit unnecessary. Thankfully there's no Egyptian symbols, as far as I know, but I do know there are some people that will take offence. I'm not the best at explaining why this might be offensive, but these type of subjects can be uncomfortable for many people. If you want to know more in further detail, Google is your friend in these situations. Another part that really has nothing to do with the song in any way is a specific part of the choreography, where she and her back-up dancers are ululating. I have no idea why her choreographer thought this was necessary, and I'm sure there's plenty of other moves that can be used instead. Cultural appropriation in media and pop culture needs to stop, and people need to realize that just because something isn't offensive to them it doesn't mean it isn't offensive.
To be honest, I was worried about this music video. God knows I love Hyuna, but most of her videos in the past have really cringeworthy and certain parts a bit embarrassing even. She has always been a gorgeous girl and she sure knows how to move her body, but her sexiness could seem very forced and unnatural at times. I feel like her videos weren't made for her but for her male audience and catered to the male gaze an awful lot. This video and song however, are about her and are made for her only. Sure, all the fanboys will be happy too, but this is Hyuna's show. She is the boss of her own sexuality, queen of her own castle and sole star of this video. Naturally, there are some parts that I could have done without but overall it's a big improvement on her part. Instead of trying to look sexy by doing strained facial expressions, she smiles, laughs and enjoys herself. This shows that she is loving what she's doing and that she's not only doing what she does just because that's what others want. Most of her career I feel like she has been trying to look sexy for others, but this time it's because she actually likes doing it herself. I suppose it's part of her growing up and taking more control of herself, and I'm all for that.
Overall, this video has it's pros and cons, but Hyuna makes it worth watching just by being herself. Every move and expression she makes is captivating, and while she's too not skilled in either singing, rapping or even dancing for that matter, she is one hell of a performer. Her appearance in this video and for these round of promotions is her best to date, and she actually looks energetic and happy while performing too. I really like the high production quality of the video, the colors and the fact that they tried something new and different. The problems are still there, but they seem small compared to everything else it brings to the table. And of course, Hyuna kills it. Big time.