Mar 17, 2015
Xia Junsu's "Flower" Is a Piece of Art
Oh, Junsu. You wonderful, magical human being.
As you may or may not recall; I wrote a brief rant of love right at the time the MV for "Flower" came out and promised a longer review, and here it is. I'll put a warning stamp on this post though, because it is long.
Was I surprised when I first watched the video? Yes and no. Since I'm already quite familiar with Junsu as a musician and artist I knew that we wouldn't be getting anything even close to the norm, but I don't think anyone could ever by ready for the video that is "Flower". Right from the start, right from the first 10 seconds you know that this is something different. There are roars of thunder, heavenly harmonies of a church choir and a Greece temple at the top of a lonely mountain. The first few lines of the song are quietly eerie and spooky, and featured rapper Tablo opens up with a memorable statement: "The lies can't kill the truth".
As of what happens next; it's more unclear, but it's never once less intriguing. Junsu sits at the top of the throne in his temple, surrounded by men and women in colorful costumes, almost cartoon-like ones. He's seemingly being invaded by men in masks who seem awfully angry for whatever reason, but the small, innocent child that stares him down is almost scarier. The scenery suddenly switches from a Junsu sipping a luxurious cup of golden liquid to him dressed as dystopian caveman, and from there the plot is lost way beyond me.
For whatever strange reason though, I still understand. Not because of my logical thinking perhaps, but because I feel it in my heart. It's obvious that this video handles some kind of apocalyptic theme, as there's such a drastic change from the highest temple of Gods to the primal environment that is the dark dystopia. I'm trying to figure out all the symbols, all the hidden meanings and messages, but it's certainly not the easiest video to decode.
Some of the clues can be found in the song's lyrics however, which manage to balance being easy to understand yet still possessing a tremendous amount of thought and depth. The song is about growing and renewing one self, like a flower that blooms after a winter. It's about overcoming the darkness and finding a way past the lies that surround you. What the song is actually referring to by those words are up to each person to interpret, but I find it amazing how well the lyrics match the video without literally touching anything mentioned in the song.
The imagery in this video is truly one of a kind, as well as the scenery and visual effects. There's the golden temple with all it's belongings, as well as the machines and tools that produce the golden liquid (which I'm scared to find out what it actually is) and the deformed fish served on a silver platter. I also didn't know I could be attracted to scary-looking men with long, black wigs and face paint, but I guess you learn something every day. As for the small girl; she's a hard nut to crack, but it's obvious she represents another side of the story. As much as there is the dreamlike fantasy of being a god and the direct opposite down in the dark woods, there is also the innocence of a child who seems to hold a distinct amount of power. Another set worth noting is the golden room with the majestic lion and golden metal-suits. It's no secret that a lion is a symbol of power and possibly also masculinity, and the metallic knight-like costumes further add to the idea of a fighter, and a powerful one too.
Junsu has been evolving and embracing his theatrical side more and more since he was released from SM, and it's obvious that he's just as passionate about the aesthetic value and visual impact as he is about the music he makes. He has stated beforehand in interviews that he doesn't like being normal, and it makes me truly happy that he's continuing to explore other visions with his artistry. As for the visuals in this video; I was blown away. This video is, for me, an incredibly beautiful effort and Junsu looks, as always, amazing. I'm not sure there's anybody else that can pull off this look the way he does, and I'm happy that he chooses to embrace his androgyny rather than fight it because it's what makes him unique and different. The various makeup looks he sports in the video are gorgeous, and same can definitely be said for his silver-polished nails.
If all this wasn't enough, let's just talk about the song for a while, shall we? I don't think I've heard a song that matches the word "epic" better than this one, and even that word isn't enough to describe the greatness of it. There's Junsu's angelic singing, of course, but there are also glorious choir harmonies, orchestral instruments, a freaking harp (!), opera singing, the thump of a heart beating and the most perfectly timed beat that shoots vibrations right down your spine. All in all, this song is a masterpiece and it's only enhanced by the video it accompanies. If I can ever hear this song performed live I will die a happy gal, that's for sure.
To match the song there's a choreography, and watching it reminded me how much I love Junsu as a dancer. For the most part I think of him as a singer and a musical artist, but the truth is that he's also one of K-pop's best dancers. Junsu has en elegance, a smooth flow to him when he dances, but at the same time he's just as powerful and emotional. My theory was more than proven right when I watched the dance practice video, in which I literally couldn't take my eyes off him for even one millisecond.
I know I have to finish this review off because it's getting long and boring, but there's just an endless amount of things to discuss about this video. If I were to talk about all the symbolism in it I would have to write a separate post, and I don't think anyone would be up for reading that after struggling their way through this giant mess of thoughts and impressions. Honestly, this video is probably one of my favorite videos period, and even now it's hard to explain exactly why that is.
Judging from what I've written it sounds like there's a bit too much going on in it, and it's true because the video is insanely complex and multidimensional, but what's magical about it is that it works. There was never a point where I felt like it was messy or unstructured, despite a premise that easily could have gone down that road. Like with what I think the video and song represent, Junsu has indeed managed to renew himself and improve his musicianship, and has found a place in his professional life where he knows what's true and what isn't. Even if that's not the case, I'm thankful for whatever reason this song and video came about because it's by far Junsu's best work to date.