Oct 20, 2015

Lovelyz Continue Down Their Sweet, Bubbly Path With "Ah-Choo"

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After debuting and coming back without one original member; the girls of Lovelyz have finally returned as eight. Member Seo Jisoo was caught in a huge scandal right before the group's debut, and it still remains not entirely solved as to this day. I personally felt quite upset when the scandal erupted, as you may remember, but a lot has happened since and since the case has been so confusing I don't quite know what to believe anymore. Nonetheless it seems at least Woollim thought it was time to let Jisoo back into the group, and now they've come back with yet another cute and feminine song; "Ah-Choo".

Now the group did actually release a pre-single, as they did with their debut if you remember, called "Shooting Star". I did give the song and video a listen, but I was far too distracted by the terrible makeup on the girls' faces to even really take in what I was actually hearing. Seriously, they better fire that makeup artist quickly. Now that I've listened to it again I actually quite like it, despite it being a bit too generic for my general taste. It does suit their sound and musical color very well though, and the video is pretty too, but I much preferred "Goodnight Like Yesterday" which still is one of my favorite songs of theirs.

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"Ah-Choo" on the other hand is a lot more exciting and upbeat than the mid-tempo ballad pre-release, and while I don't think I like it more than "Hi" it's almost at the same level. It's easily better than "Candy Jelly Love" though, but I'd rather not try and remember that that was their actual debut track. Anyhow it is fascinating to me that with only three main releases so far in their almost one year long career Lovelyz have managed to create a pretty unique and consistent musical identity. Not to say that all of their titles have sounded exactly the same, but all of them have had a certain flare to them. It's sweet, sugary and feminine bubblegum pop, and like with their labelmates Infinite they are heavily relying on synths as a main instrumental driving force, with influences of both string instruments and other funky elements like guitar and bass.

Klicka på bilden för att se den i fullstorlekThis song in particular is especially synth-oriented, thus giving it almost an animated sound of some sort, which I think is pretty cool. I also said this about their debut but the J-pop influences are strong with this group, and I found that while "Hi" might not have been much so this release is, along with "Candy Jelly Love" to me what I've created the image of J-pop to be. That might be completely incorrect, but there is something that's not very typically K-pop about them.

Part of the reason why I've formed this opinion is the way they present themselves not only in terms of styling and visuals but also because of their music videos. This one as well as their debut MV (I know I pair them up a lot but those two do have more similarities than what any of them did with "Hi") have a certain aesthetic and directing style that to me feels a bit foreign. But I mean that in a good way, of course.

Klicka på bilden för att se den i fullstorlekUnlike the melancholic, bittersweet yet beautiful sensation that was "Hi", this release is much happier, quirkier and overall more playful. The lyrics of the song are, as predicted, about love and having a crush that's being kept a secret. Some of the lines are very cute, such as them singing about how they're not very good at cooking but would like to learn for their crush, or that they usually like sleeping in but wouldn't mind getting up early if it was next to that special person.

The sneeze that they're singing about is in fact a metaphor for the feelings they have but haven't confessed yet, and that it's getting more and more difficult not to sneeze whenever they see their crush (a.k.a revealing their hearts). I personally think it's a very cute way of describing that blossoming feeling that grows withing you as you like someone, and it fits this group's overall concept really well too.

The video is not directly related to the lyrics, but then again it kind of is if you're looking closely. Most of the time the members spend the video hiding in various spots; under carpets, behind draperies, in cupboards and under tables. Sujeong even disguises herself as a plant and Mijoo hides behind the surface of a painting on the wall. They play some sort of hide and seek, with Jisoo being the one to first count to ten and later searches for them as they play tricks on her.

Even the frame of the actual video, which at times is only a round circle in the middle, acts as a way for the girls to hide themselves behind and occasionally peak out of, which I think is very clever. It's both very cute and a bit strange and random in the ways they cover themselves, because most of the time they can still be seen very clearly, such as Yein putting a cardboard box over her head leaving the rest of her body highly visible. In a way I suppose this also is representing of the way they try to hide their feelings for their crush but simply can't contain all of them. Additionally label mate Hoya also shows up later on in the video, acting as the oblivious love interest. He walks around in a leisurely manner, not paying any attention at all to the girls running around the house trying to fins new hiding spots. They take sneak peaks and watch him carefully but fail to confront him and confess their true feelings.

Klicka på bilden för att se den i fullstorlekAs a whole this video is very enjoyable and there are many qualities to it that make it stand out a bit above the rest. First of all I have to say that the plot is very cute, and not in a overly sugary or
infantilizing way. I love the idea of hide and seek as a metaphor for their hidden feelings, and the fact that they hide in such strange ways adds a dimension of quirkiness and playfulness to the video. Not only is their brand of cute very well planned out but it's definitely unique, along with their musical trademark.

Aesthetically this MV has many great features as well, and I love the bright, pastel set and all the cute props. Additionally the camera work, editing and use of different frames brings a lot of personality to the video, and sets it apart from your standard cutesy video. Last but not least I have to applaud the choreography, which is probably their most complex one to date, and the energy and spark the girls give to it makes the overall impression of the video much more exciting. I don't know if they've drawn inspiration from GFriend but the combination of a synchronized high-energy choreography paired with a sweet and feminine concept is truly a winner.

Overall I must say I have enjoyed this round of promotions for Lovelyz, now that they've come back as eight and are finally the group they should have been in the beginning. Although the song itself isn't ground-breaking in any way and not much of a musical development for the group it doesn't bother me that much, because the whole package works so well together. Paired with the cute and quirky MV, impressive choreography and J-pop inspired visuals it feels like Lovelyz have found their niche. I might not completely stan them yet, but I can tell you I'm well on my way.

Song: 3,5/5
Video: 3,9/5

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