11 K-Pop MVs Whose Retro Vibes Will Take You Back In Time
As much as I love seeing K-pop artists come up with novel and exciting concepts, there’s something about retro ones that I just can’t seem to get enough of these days. My penchant for old-school vibes might partly be due to nostalgia (granted I wasn’t really old enough at the time to fully experience the ’90s, let alone any of the decades prior to it), but more likely, it’s simply because K-pop groups know how to turn any genre from any era into a bop. See below for proof.
IN2IT – “Sorry For My English”
I can’t say I’ve ever been into disco culture, but songs like this make me think its music (as well as social significance, though that’s for another time) might be sorely undervalued by many today. “Sorry For My English” is a delightful jam that embraces the sound and aesthetic — even the moves, to an extent — of the disco clubs of the ’70s and ’80s, featuring an utterly infectious chorus that’s hard to forget.
EXO-CBX – “Hey Mama!”
“Hey Mama!” is a fun, high energy funk-style pop track that takes the ’70s and makes them look better than ever before. From Xiumin and Chen serving ’70s accountant looks as they work at their desks to Baekhyun looking like he could be the protagonist of an old wartime spy thriller, EXO-CBX show that they can do it all, making fans’ hearts swoon repeatedly with every outfit change (personally, I can’t get over Baekhyun’s pinstripe suit). Meanwhile, the colorful, decidedly retro sets give this MV an additional layer of vintage charisma that complements the boys’ fits perfectly.
NU’EST – “LOVE ME”
This alternative house meets urban R&B track has a groove that’s not all that different from that of some of the disco-oriented songs listed here, though it definitely has a slightly more modern air to it. Interestingly, “LOVE ME” uses many scenes shot in and around classic cars, even including a drive-in movie theater, which provide the members with a certain old-school charm that’s simply irresistible. Other retro touches, such as shiny leather pants and Converse high tops, further enhance this charm, resulting in some romantic old-fashioned date night vibes.
Yubin – “yaya (ME TIME)”
Oval sunglasses? Check. Satiny slip dress? Check. Bucket hats for everyone? Check. While Yubin’s solo debut title track, “Lady,” transported listeners back to the ’80s with its city pop sound and vintage, sparkly outfits, her latest single overflows with nostalgia for the decade that followed, abounding in ’90s fashion trends from head to toe. Whether it’s double denim fits, cap sleeve crop tops, or just some oversized hoop earrings, if it was trendy in the ’90s, you’ll almost certainly find it in this groovy, carefree MV.
T-ara – “Roly Poly”
T-ara really went all in on this one. With its neon illuminated dance floor and pulsing electronic bass line, “Roly Poly” brings ’80s disco back in full force as the girls dance the night away, filled with youthful energy and independence. The choreography also gives a firm nod to the dance style of the time, which often included line dancing (itself a revival from previous decades) and freestyle. Combine all this with the members’ outfits and you have an MV that truly feels like a blast from the past.
SHINee – “1 of 1”
After watching this video, I’m pretty much convinced that no one can pull off old-school cool quite like SHINee. Even the garish sweaters and carnival stripe overalls look runway ready as the members show off their ’90s style dance moves. Of course, the retro concept doesn’t stop at the members’ (or the backup dancers’) fashion and choreo, as the track itself was inspired by swingbeat, a fusion genre that was popular from the mid ’80s into the early ’90s.
Taeyeon – “Happy”
“Happy” is like a dose of honey, warm sunshine, and summer flowers mixed together to create a dreamy, soothing track. Warm tones and soft colors, alongside an assortment of vintage furniture, electronics, and home decor, give this MV an old yet timeless feel that makes it all the more comforting. I highly recommend this deliciously sweet and heartwarming contemporary interpretation of doo-wop the next time you could use a little pick-me-up.
MAMAMOO – “gogobebe”
Did someone say retro girl crush? Seriously, who said Hwasa could wear that silver puff sleeve top, as though she didn’t already have a commanding presence to begin with? And what about Moonbyul’s pinstripe suit? Wheein’s neon green windbreaker set and pink bucket hat? Even Solar’s plastic coated hair clips? Anyway, although this song doesn’t have a particularly nostalgic sound to it, the girls definitely do channel some fashion energy of years gone by and look fantastic while doing so.
SNUPER – “Platonic Love”
I love everything about “Platonic Love,” from the muted color grading that creates a gorgeously retro look to the bouncy synth line that carries the song from verse to verse while giving it a distinctly old-school sound. The ’80s roller rink concept, which makes the track’s connection to the era all the more obvious, is also cute and rare to see. I only wish that the video included more scenes of them actually roller skating around.
Secret – “Shy Boy”
I’ve never actually seen “Grease,” but I have to imagine that “Shy Boy” would fit right in as one of the numbers. This song takes ’50s doo-wop and adds some cheery, K-pop flare to it, resulting in a bubbly track with a chorus that’s hard to not sing along to. Of course, the ’50s nostalgia doesn’t stop there; “Shy Boy” also includes sock hop ready choreography, an old-timey soda shop, and some greaser-looking characters that, understandably, can’t take their eyes off these queens.
EXID – “Lady”
EXID nails ’90s street fashion on the head in “Lady,” what with their bright, color block windbreakers, denim overalls (worn on only one shoulder, of course), and classic yellow Timberlands. The song itself is also undeniably ’90s, bringing back the popular new jack swing genre of the time in a way that’s so catchy I don’t know how I slept on this one up until recently.
Which retro-style MVs are your favorites?
seheee is a software engineer by day and an avid K-pop concert goer by night. She also occasionally makes an appearance on Twitter (@_seheee).