K-pop music videos are always spectacularly colorful, beautifully shot, or simply used to showcase the beauty of Korean idols, whose close-ups are often artworks in and of themselves. Many of us may have been drawn into the worlds of the groups we now adore by their music videos alone, only later learning their song lyrics, member names, and what their favorite colors are.
The following artists have unique visual styles that complement their music wonderfully and whose videos one would be sorry to miss.
We can’t deny that part of the appeal of Red Velvet is the stunning, surreal, and dream-like music videos we’re used to seeing from Director Shin Hee Won, the man behind “One of These Nights,” “Automatic,” and “Rookie.” Shall we say attack on the senses? Bright colors, mirror effects, clashing patterns, and narratives that leave more questions than answers.
“Automatic” has “Goodfellas” vibes, Scorsese mood lighting, and grand dinner tables while “One of These Nights” has some Wes Anderson feels with the cool blues of “Life Aquatic” and chic patterns of “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Symmetry is definitely a big stylistic choice here, and the symbolism of mirror images runs through most of their videos.
Check out the captivating shadows and mood lighting in “Automatic” below.
With each new music video release, we seem to be witnessing a transitional stage for IU, who in the past few years has released thought provoking, stripped, revealing, and conversational work with “23,” “Palette,” and now “Through the Night.” Even her cover of “Last Night Story” feels personal and steeped with imagery we as IU fans are familiar with. Her videos feel like art installations, always in a contained space and with her as the focus, taking the center of the frame. Rarely do we see anyone else on screen, creating a solitary and self-directed feel.
No one video is like another, covering a broad spectrum of color and cinematic style from 1970s-inspired retro disco to a modern, pastel, and bare aesthetic.
Enjoy her cover of a classic and enjoy some retro blonde locks in “Last Night Story” below.
Step into the world of Zion.T and expect something different. Zion.T’s not a dancer or what we would typically refer to as an idol; you won’t see the usual performance stage we’re so used to from K-pop videos. Instead, feel a sense of calm wash over you as glowing neon lights up almost exclusively night locations with blue, pink, green, lilac… line up screen shots of his videos and you’ve practically got a rainbow.
Italian horror movie “Suspiria” evoked a lot of emotion with the changing red and green street lamps reflected in the glass of a taxi cab, and the same technique can be seen in “Yanghwa Bridge.” In fact, the portfolio of Zion.T’s videos show a lot of global and cinematic influences with “Eat” seeming to draw on “Drop Dead Fred” before the reveal at the end and “The Song” portraying some Elton John vibes.
Cool down with the icy whites and blues of “Eat” below.
The skewed frames and rotating scenery of BLACKPINK’s videos gives the viewer a feeling of the camera chasing a rolling ball but never quite catching up. These videos are super quick, and it takes several views and a lot of pausing to really take in everything that’s going on.
Casually lounging on top of the world, doing a bit of light reading while levitating, strolling around stark, urban landscapes, or hanging out on fish tank cars… Not one frame is lacking in style or mystique.
The composition seems to be purposefully pulling the viewer out of the narrative, making a point of the imagery, the angles, and even the editing. Each shot says “Look at this!” and indeed we should.
Jump on the roller coaster that is “Whistle” below.
What would this list be without a mention of BTS? The group could boast pretty nice camera work going as far back in their catalog as their debut, but the last half dozen videos have been beautiful. This is another example of idols being visually stunning enough to support the entire video; just point a camera towards any member and you’ve got gold, but BTS doesn’t rest on their laurels, releasing some of the most captivating videos of the past few years.
Composition, color palette, and lighting are all on point, the angles are unique and interesting, and the concepts are deep and evoking.
“Save Me” showed us that the choice of location, a couple of angle changes, and some fluid, seamless camera work can make what is essentially a dance video seem bursting with passion and emotion. “Blood, Sweat & Tears” left us yearning for the feature length version of what could easily have been a beautiful art house movie or simply a picture book; I, for one, would purchase.
Enjoy some deliciously rich color in “Blood, Sweat & Tears” below.
Heize’s music videos seem to exist in their own universe, whether portraying roommates trapped in a never-ending cycle of abuse, or sunbathing on the moon, there’s a sense that these little pocket locations are out of this world.
“In July” feels like stepping into a time machine to the grungy backdrops of the nineties, drawing on the central location to create a sense of isolation and shared captivity; the two characters, Heize and Dean (who features on the track), invade each other’s space, and we see this through close, tight frames and high angles. “Star” is like a strange dream or something out of the “Truman Show.” The colors are vibrant and rich, and the lighting produces a sense of wonderment while a little bedroom floats around in space.
Step into another world with “Star” below.
There are ofcourse a hundred and one other examples of visually stunning music videos in the K-pop catalog, so please let us know your favorites in the comments below!
MizWest is an English Teaching Assistant with way too much time on her hands. When she’s not watching dramas or shaking it to K-pop, she’s studying everything Korean culture with a view to move out there some day soon!