It is the K-Pop Fairy Tale of the year – and no, we are not talking about the SongSong Couple’s wedding this week. We are discussing the return of Pledis’ first boy group and their powerful domination in the charts with their latest song, “Where You At”. If you are not up to speed just yet, NU’EST is currently promoting under a sub-unit name: W, translated as “Waiting” due to the fifth member, Hwang Minhyun; who is currently part of the winning eleven that made Produce 101’s new group, WannaOne earlier this year. Recently, we have noted how their inevitable comeback would pan out and what exactly could be on the cards for them. However, fate is a generous mistress and recently the group has earned their first music show win since their debut with “Face” back in 2012.
So, how has this all came together? How does the W fit in with the music video? Why exactly was Ren kidnapped by a strange red ballerina? Now we get to figure it out as we break down the music video for NU’EST’s chart-topping track.
Of course, with the lyrics featuring that of longing for someone who may be far away or one sided, the music video plays out in various ways as the four members appear to be lost in various forms of Havana, while still searching and longing for something. Already, fans have inserted this style to both their previous videos for “Overcome” and “Love Paint”, but there seems to be no clear connection. Instead, the link between these three is that of fantasy. “Overcome” tells that of a snow-covered Kingdom, reminiscent of the Final Fantasy series whereas “Love Paint” represents a Wonderland of sorts. With “Where You At”, the fantasy is that of a dream as all four members are inside their own representing bedrooms while also locked in their own worlds.
Multiple symbols link this theory; starting with the red butterfly that emerges at the start of the video. Within literature and movies, butterflies are often creatures of fantasy or in this case, a being that is currently being chased by the NU’EST members. Within their dreams, they are unable to reach the person they long for the most and in this case, the butterfly signals hope and the possibility of waking up to their loving reality once again.
Throughout the course of the video, this butterfly makes a frequent appearance in each world, which differs in how the members cope with their imprisonment. The first world holds JR, appearing to be that of a church. At the altar, he tries to pray for the dream to be a reality but his desperate attempts appear to be unanswered as he is welcomed by the butterfly. In another world, the youngest of the four; Ren, appears to be blinded by his own reality or innocence. Instead of remaining on his own, he is blindfolded in a red lace ribbon and driven into an abandoned quarry. His captive appears to be a mysterious ballerina dressed in red and concealed by a bejewelled mask. It could be questioned that she takes the form of the said butterfly or in fact the being that has broken Ren’s reality and left him in a lost world, away from his loved ones. Meanwhile, Aron is locked in a long series of hallways. The rooms seem to be never-ending, signalling his journey he makes through the dream world while lead by the butterfly once again.
Baekho’s scenes seem to be the most interesting in terms of imagery. Instead of certain worlds or scenes, he often seen with the association of water. His bedroom is flooded with the inclusion of blue accents – a typical colour representing water. Soon, this turns into the sea as he is plunged deep underwater. This seems to depict that of helplessness and struggle as he attempts to swim back to safety. However, he is floating in his own dream state, unable to escape the drowning sensation of love and loss. It’s interesting to note that although there is no clear association or link, the scenes seem best suited to each member; Baekho has struggled with continuous rumours, JR has prayed and worked hard for his group to do well, Aron has gone through his own journey outside of the group while the other members were in Produce 101 and finally Ren is the youngest, who has bore the weight of his group through the long years of promotions and training. Within this, they face themselves in the dream world as they soon wake up; seeing the people they were before and their emotions. Both versions are represented by different colours, signalling both love and loss. The red is often seen in the dream world, which holds what they desire the most and reality is signalled with blue, portraying sadness and vulnerability.
As the worlds intertwine and the members wake up, they are left with one emotion; Hope. Either seen by the light that emerges in the dream world or the butterflies, all four members soon rely on it to break from the dream world and finally unite once again. Bear in mind, that the fifth member of the full group, Minhyun is currently absent due to his promotions in Wanna One but the hope can still be applied in him. The W in the sub-unit’s name is noted as ‘Waiting’, which means they are waiting for hope to answer and for all five members to untie with their fans again. The light could be both their absent member and the fans which led them through the difficult times and brought them hope once again. Hope that brought them into the spotlight and giving them the happy ending they deserve in this story.
As always, NU’EST know how to deliver a striking music video for their promotions and with their regeneration in the charts, it is clear why the group made such a mark on Produce 101 and in fans’ hearts. We can’t wait to see what else they have in store, but for now, it is clear to see that the dream has finally come true for NU’EST W. If you haven’t checked out their new mini-album, including solo tracks from all four members, it is now available to purchase through iTunes and to stream on Spotify.