K-pop groups are known for their vivid music videos and slick choreography, but some have gone beyond and woven narratives into their discography to produce a storyline for fans to follow and look for hints or “easter eggs” in music videos and lyrics. Here are five groups that have incorporated storylines into their concepts:
BTS, HYYH: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life
Known not only for their strong choreography, vocalists and talented rappers, BTS have also produced a discography that reads like a novel.
Tracing ‘the most beautiful moment in life’, the members are seen tackling the challenges of youth in what has now been dubbed “Bangtan Universe” where interlocking music video trailers and even solo songs all weave into one narrative while at the same time touching on social issues in their lyrics.
— SMERALDO BOOKS (@Smeraldo_Books) January 8, 2019
From incorporating literary allusions such as Hermann Hesse’s bildungsroman (or ‘coming of age’) Demian during the Blood, Sweat and Tears era, to Ursula K. Le Guin’s Omelas in Spring Day, it seems that BTS will soon be back with more content from the Bangtan Universe. Most recently, Twitter account Smeraldo Books have popped up on ARMYs timelines – alluding to the mysterious flower that has become a recurring motif in BTS’ music videos.
Dreamcatcher, Seven Nightmares
Diverging from the bubblegum pop that Kpop has grown to be known for, the seven-member girl group, Dreamcatcher carries with them a magic and rituals concept involving the “seven nightmares”.
Another aspect that differentiates this group from other girl groups is their sound. They incorporate rock alongside slick choreography and ominous music videos following the girls as they attempt to escape what looks like a nightmare,
“The most interesting thing about Dreamcatcher is the fantasy story of the “Seven Nightmares.” It’s not simply one series in a big frame, but organic stories created with each single and album. Also, there are clues and hints to solve the mysteries, so not only do the viewers focus on the music and the storyline, but they can have fun with their own interpretation. We think those aspects make Dreamcatcher different and stand out from existing K-Pop artists.” – Interview with PaperMag
EXO, EXO Planet
With a group name that refers to something “outside of this world”, EXO debuted with each member wielding supoerpowers. From fire to earth, teleportation to mind control, the formerly 12-member boy-group introduced themselves and their respective powers through music videos such as MAMA and History.
WJSN, The Zodiacs
WJSN is an acronym for the group’s Korean name 우주소녀 or Wu Ju So Nyeo, which translates to their English name Cosmic Girls.Each of the original 12 members represent one of the zodiac signs, with the 13th member, Yeonjung, representing Ophiuchus, a large constellation sometimes used as the 13th zodiac and stands for “Serpent-bearer” in Greek.
The members of Cosmic Girls are presented as otherworldly beings from space and are divided into separate units: Wonder, Joy, Sweet and Natural.
MONSTA X, The Clan and The Connect
Set in what appears to be an apocalyptic world, Monsta X begins The Clan pt.1 Lost with All In. It follows the group as they stand up against the power imbalance, abuse and brutality in this grey world.
This is followed by The Clan pt.2 Guilty led by the music video for Fighter where the mysterious blue flower, which first appeared in All In, is seen once more. The Code follows headed by Dramarama where the members are seen time-travelling in an attempt to rewrite the past. The chronology appears to culminate with The Connect: Dejavu.
Which concepts are your favourites?