After a thankfully short break since their last promotions, BIGBANG are back with their attention grabbing new track, ‘Monster’.
I have a few theories about the concept of this video and song, so I’m going to share a few of them with you…I don’t know about anyone else, but the meaning wasn’t exactly apparent to me at once.
So straight away this video was packed full of vivid and epic visuals, such as the intermittently glowing eyes, slow motion action shots, vibrant outfits, etc, but these things didn’t disguise the fact that the video doesn’t really seem to have much point to it, other than looking down right awesome. But as I watched it for the first and second time I tried to pick up on a storyline, ANY storyline, but I just couldn’t find it to be honest. It felt like it should be a really meaningful video, but I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. It was like the video was stuffed full of symbolism that I couldn’t really decode.
But upon the third time of watching this video, a few parts of the video starting looking like they really fit together, even though they had seemed like random instances at first. It suddenly clicked to me that they were in some kind of dilapidated Government facility or prison, and they have serial numbers as if they were experiments, part of a programme or even inmates. This makes me think that this concept could be some kind of commentary on the idol industry. Perhaps everything is so over the top and excessive in this video (the clothes, hair, makeup and jewellery) because they are portraying how everything gets blown out of proportion when you’re an idol, e.g. scandals. But, when they finally make it out of the facility/prison (perhaps representing idol industry) GD finds that the world outside is bleak, barren and empty. Maybe a symbol for what their lives would be like without BIGBANG. At times they may feel vilified and demonised by fans, media, etc, but they still love the life they’ve lived since debut. Even aspects of the video such as their armour-like outfits and the cracks on Seungri’s face (his cracking facade) all point me towards consequences of constantly living under the scrutiny of the public eye; they have to build up armour and defences to keep all the negativity from destroying them, but at times it gets to them.
Some people may think differently to me, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I found out that my theory was correct; with certain members having received copious amounts of negative media attention and being the source of scandals within the past year, it would make sense that they might feel as if they had been portrayed by the media as monsters. Perhaps this concept was a way of retaliating without adding more fuel to the fire.
Now, to move on to whether this concept is UK-friendly or not!
The beginning of the video is shot as if in first person, and when combined with the post-apocalyptic terrain and explosions, it really reminded me of a video game. This is a pretty cool way to start the video, and I think the whole dark setting of the scenes would be quite popular with men. Also, at times there seemed to be a superhero theme that cropped up; they looked like they were wearing costumes, slow motion and sped up running scenes and the glowing eyes. This combined with the scene that looks like a video game; I think this video would have an appeal for UK men.
As I’ve already mentioned, everything in this video is over the top and visually shocking; their hair, makeup, clothing and accessories. It seems as if they have become extreme versions of themselves, in the same way that Lady Gaga became; they always have to compete with themselves to do something bigger and better than last time.
Exaggeration in music videos is certainly not uncommon in Korea or here in the West, but some of the fashion used appears a little feminine, which seems odd to me even though this is K-pop. We’ve all seen boy bands with feminine members, hair extensions and excessive eyeliner, but I feel that the style used for ‘Monster’ really takes it further in some places; Taeyang’s victory rolls and TOP’s floppy hat, for example. GD’s blonde bowl cut and red devil horns seem some kind of high fashion that isn’t something we’re used to here in the UK, and as such I think this could cause people to be put off this song if the style used makes them feel uncomfortable.
The added extra piercings, occasionally appearing ‘monster’ markings and even Daesung’s bull-like tusks really fit well with the concept of the song, and despite being pretty extreme, I think everything combined will really pique the interest of a fair few potential fans here in the UK.
UK Potential: 3/5
In the music video there is no choreography so there’s not really much to say in this section, but perhaps when they perform ‘Monster’ live there will be. If the video had dancing though, it might be a bit out of place as it seems to be a very strong and personal message they are trying to convey; no dance is necessary for the MV.
UK Potential: 4/5 (because the lack of choreography is apt)
The song has an almost gentle quality and beat that completely contrasts with the ‘monster’ images we’re being shown, which is deliberate I assume.
The song starts out with just a piano being played at the beginning, in an almost ballad style, with really soft singing-style rapping. Then as the song gets going the piano is mixed with a dance track. Usually I don’t think this mix of ballad and dance tracks works very well, and at best is just overdone as every idol group seems to do it, but BIGBANG have gotten this spot on. The mix of the two genres is completely synergetic and I think it will appeal to many people in the UK.
The English used in the song mostly consists of ‘I love you, baby I’m not a monster’ and ‘I need you, baby I’m not a monster’ which are a part of the chorus. It’s well pronounced and makes sense, which will definitely help the song to appeal to more UK listeners. At one point, Seungri says something like ‘You don’t say that tomorrow’, or he could have said ‘won’t’ which would make more sense, but either way it sounds really good and is quite softly spoken so if it is wrong, no one should really notice. The final part of the song is GD (if I’m not mistaken) murmuring ‘I’m sick, I think I’m sick’ as the song comes to its close, again this is well pronounced and makes sense.
UK Potential: 4/5
Overall UK Potential: 11/15
I’m actually quite surprised that I ended up scoring ‘Monster’ with a decent UK potential rating, as when I began writing this review, I actually wasn’t convinced that it would do well. But, as I got to thinking more about the video, the song and all the things that work so well in the concept, I actually now do believe that if BIGBANG were to release this song in the UK, it could actually do well.
However, if the video is a commentary on the idol industry/lifestyle, this will probably be lost on non-k-pop fans, and although the video is visually stunning, there seems to be no reason for the members to be so outrageously dressed. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t believe that the UK is really ready for this kind of style from men…we’re used to Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, but most currently popular men in the UK have a very relaxed and casual style.
Some revisions to the style in the video may have to be done, namely lose the victory rolls and floppy hat! I don’t think the UK is quite ready for that.
Click here to check out Monster on YesAsia
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