In honor of the release of the music video for VIXX - Voodoo Doll (TW: self-harm)*, here’s something I’ve been working on for a while. From Youtube:
Inspired by SHINee’s “Everybody” (which does not however appear in this playlist), this is a collection of Kpop music videos about artificiality.
Idol singers are humanoid robots (TVXQ “Humanoids”) who live on the other side of a screen, waiting for you to play with them (VIXX “Rock Ur Body”). They wish to be *the* perfect object of capitalist consumption, better than any real boyfriend because they are working harder than anyone to exactly resemble what you want (Boyfriend “Love Style”). In order to fulfill this ideal, they live in an artificial world of dressing rooms and runways, surrounded by makeup artists and European producers (Sistar “So Cool”). In this world of stage sets, everything is topsy-turvy (UKISS “Dora Dora”), and the idols are products, dolls - everything including their emotions is heavily commercialized (T-ara “Sexy Love”), reported and analyzed (SHINee “Breaking News”), and monitored and recorded (Big Bang “Monster”). They are puppets controlled by faceless music industry insiders (LEDApple “Let the Wind Blow”), every real emotion kept under a tight lid (EXO-K “Machine”) - all so these idols can better embody your ultimate fanfiction fantasy (Super Junior M “Break Down”).
This follows from my article on Gangnam Style, where I wrote:
Psy’s Gangnam Style video isn’t just funny in ways that Americans recognize, e.g. the hot tub scene borrowed from Austin Powers. It’s also implicitly critical of “all flash no substance” celebrations of celebrity vanity/megalomania…
The difference between those [vain/megalomaniac] groups and Psy isn’t precisely hubris as Gangnam Style is, after translation into English, already plenty boastful. Rather, it’s a comment on artificiality: Psy’s video is set in the real world – albeit one full of celebrity cameos and action-movie stunt acting – while other groups save money by filming in constructed worlds made up of empty mansions, empty clubs and empty rooms; or else in the “real” Kpop world of stage lights and dressing rooms. And that’s if there is any nod to reality at all. In its purest form, Kpop features locations that aren’t just abstract and prone to disorienting lighting, but subject to no other logic but the logic of capitalist consumption…
Of course there’s a lot of self-awareness in the artificiality of these videos - in addition to being generally more economical, they sometimes also double, Lady Gaga-like, as commentary on their own artificiality.
Lots of worlds, but this should also work as a playlist, obviously :p The songs in this mix are mostly bright, electronic, and futuristic. It’s a good mix for Getting Stuff Done - while you work, the electronically altered voices of the singers and energetic and varied electronic beats whir away efficiently in the background.
*Like Everybody, “Voodoo Doll” isn’t actually in the playlist… unlike Everybody, it’s because I was pretty underwhelmed by the song (the video is another story: if VIXX’s young Korean fans thought On and On was too scary, I can’t imagine what they are making of this). It has blockbuster syndrome: all the best bits were already revealed in the trailers, and the whole doesn’t add up to more than the sum of its parts. It’s too bad, cause I really like VIXX, as cozily dysfunctional variety personalities if not for their music… ah well, maybe next time