Nov 18, 2015
f(x) Take It To The Next Level In MV For "4 Walls"
Last Saturday f(x) held their last music show performance for this round of promotions, meaning the era of "4 Walls" is slowly coming to an end. Of course the girls have their upcoming solo concert in January and a rumored Japanese tour next year, but as far as promoting on TV this is probably it. The members have many solo activities that hinder them from any further promotions, such as musicals and movie shoots, and although this period has been short (3 weeks) it's been a good ride. Admittedly I'm very late on this MV review and it will probably be quite brief, but it feels appropriate to round up the "4 Walls" era with one last look at the video that started it.
As the years have passed f(x) have become notoriously known for their unique concepts, but have many times failed to present music videos as original and interesting as the teasers might make you think. "Electric Shock" and "Rum Pum Pum Pum" were big victims of this, for example, and although "Red Light" was more in tune with the teaser photos it still had traits of the standard K-pop MV formula (still an amazing video though). "4 Walls" on the other hand is like nothing I've seen before, at least not for a SM production. This video is completely without choreography, and it barely has close-ups on the members mouthing the words to the song. It's clear to be said that this MV is something different, and I'm so happy it is.
For once the teaser pictures match the video, which is great because the concept looked amazing from the get go, but I was shocked by how there was nothing in it to remind me of it being a K-pop video, even more so a f(x) video. The cinematography, scenery and soft filters makes such a pretty frame to look at, which by the way goes from square to rectangle (this seems to be SM's new way of making their videos a bit less mainstream). Every shot looks like it could be taken from any given aesthetic hipster blog, and now that that has more and more become this group's image it's amazing to have it presented in video format instead of only pictures.
Aesthetically the video is wonderful, and in many ways it feels like this is the MV f(x) was always bound to shoot one day considering their image and concepts, I'm in love with the washed-out, pastel colors, the pretty locations and the lightning and framework, and overall it's clear to see how well this video works on a visual level. The scenes in the forest are beautiful and I'm in love with the underwater scene; Krystal looks amazing in it. In fact they all look great in the video, as they're going for a more natural look both in terms of hair and clothing compared to their previous, more eccentric styling.
Now that's been said how the video for "4 Walls" is every hipster tumblr user's wet dream I can't say I'm not slightly confused by the plot of the video because yes, there is in fact one. Going over the time lapse of the entire thing isn't going to make in sense in written form because it's too complicated, but essentially a series of events occur in which one thing leads to another. Actions are followed by consequences. I have a hard time making out if in fact the members are playing as four different characters or if they are actually one and the same, but the latter seems more plausible when trying to understand how everything's connected.
It basically goes: Amber drops a cup which results in her pouring tea on the floor and Victoria slipping on it. She wakes up confused in the forest (and so do the other members but let's assume they're one and the same person) and runs into versions of herself in different stages of the previous event that led to this. Then she (or Amber, more specifically) meets a horse, and now I'm completely lost. I don't know if horses have any deeper symbolic meaning in Korea because after the interaction she starts getting scared and the members run faster with panicked looks on their faces.
The coolest part of the entire video though is the climax, in which the bridge has gone and the build-up starts once again leading up to the final chorus. We see Krystal run, obviously frightened, and while she looks back she slips and falls into a hole in the ground, which results in the underwater scene. At the same time Victoria lies in a bathtub with rose petals floating on top (the same ones that are also underneath were Krystal is), and when she submerges we see Krystal reaching for the surface only to appear as Luna, who then runs out of the bathtub. What happens next is more confusing, because she runs into bed and wakes up right were the video began and it ends with Victoria running to catch the cup before Amber gets the chance to drop it.
I still, to this, day haven't been fully able to understand what's actually happening, and the lyrics aren't helping much either. The song is about love, as one could guess considering most songs more or less are, but they are very ambiguous and slightly hard for me to make sense of with the symbolic knowledge and expertise I possess (none, to be more exact).
The main comparison is that love is four walls, which I assume means that it covers and embraces them completely. What I think the lyrics do for the video though isn't that they explain it, but rather that the lyrics add to the mysterious, complex nature of it and actually enhances the viewing experience. They're both very pretty and also open to interpretation just like the plot of the video, and the fans can add their own ideas and perceptions onto this canvas that is the MV for "4 Walls".
Like I said there is not actual choreography incorporated into the video which is a new thing for f(x) and for SM in general, since the company pride themselves on their dance-oriented box videos and complicated, unique routines. f(x) aren't the best of dancers but they aren't bad at all, and I would have liked to see some choreo in this MV as well, especially knowing afterwards how awesome it is.
However when contemplating how artsy and non-typical this video is it would be a bit weird if the members all of a sudden started to dance, no matter how gorgeous the choreography is. In fact, not adding any dancing sequences further establishes f(x)'s image as a group that's a bit out of the ordinary, and I think that's a good thing because they are out of the ordinary. f(x) are one of a kind, and that in the best way possible. With this comeback they've proven themselves to be on top of the ladder when it comes to concepts, music and video production, and with their 65 000+ sold albums it seems I'm not alone believing so. This era might be over, but the supreme reign of f(x) is nowhere close to ending.