SEVENTEEN: My My MV Critique – Where’s the Journey?

SONG RATING: 9.2/10 | MV RATING: 7.7/10

To preface this SEVENTEEN is pretty much the only active k-pop group aside from Shinhwa that I actually actively listen to. Their work to me is very special and touching because more than anything, I always feel sincerity. This isn’t just for them to make money, their passion for the stage and music shines brightly always. They make sure to bring quality to the table instead of riding on their popularity and supplementing that with basic manufactured music. And I think much of it has to with the fact that they make their own music (Woozi). 

MUSIC

So, for My My, the song is upbeat and just in time for summer vibes but not overly bright or littered with noise. It’s got the SEVENTEEN flavor of tropical not the basic summer tunes we hear over and over again every time the season rolls by. The melody is dynamic, you get a variety of rhythms especially when approaching the chorus like a breath of fresh air.

CHOREOGRAPHY

You don’t see it in the MV but the choreography is as creative as always if you check out their live performances. Hoshi does an amazing jobs creating fresh dance routines for their songs.

MUSIC VIDEO

I love the song and I really really want to say I also LOVE the music video but..I can’t Because I feel like the way the music video was made does not do the song justice and I’ll explain why and there it could use some improvements.

First off they did not include credits in the end like they’ve done many times in the past. I’m wondering if it’s BigHit’s decision to not include which I’m against. I think the credits are very important and it shows respect to those involved in the work. I am getting nervous about SEVENTEEN after BigHit acquired Pledis because I don’t want them drastically changing their creative teams. To be very honest I am not a big fan of the music video production behind BTS and TXT’s work (this has nothing to do with the group but the people they outsource to). So while the video was visually awesome here with a lot of ‘Oh My’ vibes, the editing and directing could use some work.

So let’s talk about how this MV could be even better. Right now the way  the video was shot, directed and edited, lacks a bit of the energy the song is feeding. It needs more than just pretty design and visuals.

key word: ENERGY

WRITING

There’s no real storyline for the writing, just a sequence of events to evoke the idea of a journey together. They start at the campfire as some members seem to be preparing an airship (Mingyu). Then when the first chorus hits, they’ve taken off on their journey. They stop at a tropical paradise of some sort before continuing on the journey.

In this loose sequence of events, they inserted Vernon’s jam storyline. He mentioned this very vaguely in an interview behind-the-scenes. It is more or less a reference to the concept of journey with fruit that goes through a process before becoming a reward for hard work and growth.

ART DIRECTION & SET DESIGN 8.8/10

I like whimsical and creative directions like this one which SEVENTEEN seems to do pretty well. It’s intentionally artificial but doesn’t feel cheap at all. The design is really fun with a mix of cozy and head in the clouds, it reminds me of ‘Oh My’. In fact I think because the set design was dynamic in itself, they didn’t bother getting creative with camera angles. There seemed to be lots of opportunities for fun shots, but the director didn’t take them.

You have the campfire set, airship set, and pool set. It was interesting to watch the BTS of the filming as they were all done indoors. For the campfire set, they brought in alpaca but sadly you don’t see them very much in the MV. I loved the color tones and props. It’s quirky with a mix of retro and really evokes the cozy feeling of camping.

The airship in itself is a very simple design. Most of the detail is in the control panel that Jun is piloting. The rest is structure and seating for the members. This idea was a bit of a missed opportunity. You see a lot of the vehicle itself but you don’t get to see through the lens of the members when they look out of it. Nevertheless, that’s not the designer’s fault.

Lastly is the pool scene. This was scene that they inserted only between after the first chorus and before the bridge. When the camera pulls back for the dance shot in the second chorus you get to see the whole set. There were lots of opportunities this set provided yet once again, it wasn’t used to its full potential.

lighting could use some tweaking…

EDITING & VFX 7/10

The beginning was very promising, it was exciting and a great build up until they hit the airship and the tension and excitement dwindled when it’s supposed to be at its highest point since that’s when they’re out on the journey.

You barely see anyone singing or connecting with the music, it’s just continuous beauty shots of the members which would be fine if the editing was matching the song. Or at least I don’t understand the decisions such as holding these long static shots with no one singing to the music for the entirety of the last minute. There’s very little reference to the actual song.

I can understand if they wanted a travel log, aspirational feel but you have to make sure the editing can match the energy of the song. In fact they could have kept the same footage but cut it differently to match the music more and do a proper build up from the bridge into the final chorus with the right burst of energy and it would have made all the difference. One of the issues is you see the members happily gazing out as they travel,

Color and lighting is somewhat passable. I think the campfire sets could use some more contrast as sometimes it would get too dark and the subjects get lost.

Visual effects wise, I think they could have been a little more creative. I don’t mind the CGIed elements as it’s supposed to be whimsical like that. With a limited budget, the VFX can do wonders to elevate the concept. For example they had this really beautiful scene here, they could have used this aerial shot more times and do a montage with the ocean changing to different colors or terrains to emulate the feeling of movement through a journey.

DIRECTING 7/10

This brings me to directing as the editor can only use what is actually filmed. If they did not film people singing then the editor can’t include that in the final cut. They did not get enough of a variety of footage despite having like three sets. Because this is a song about a journey, conceptually it’d be nice if you could show references to aspects of their journey. Embarking on a journey isn’t just about what happens inside the vehicle, the appeal is the unexpected changes and new things you come across (none which is shown in the video). The members are forced to act excited as they look out the airship, yet the audience is not rewarded with the flory they are supposedly seeing.

CINEMATOGRAPHY & CAMERA WORK 7.8/10

The camera work was great and thoughtful but not necessarily the most suitable for this song. While you get the right cinematic feeling with the way it was set up, I don’t understand the decision to shoot it in the way they did. Much of the scenes are pan and zoom shots which slows the tempo of the video drastically and contributes to the drop in overall energy. There were also a few arbritrary shots that didn’t communicate much about the video.

The lighting design could use some more work. In the darker scenes of the first set it’d be nice to have a little more contrast as you start to lose the member in the darkness. It becomes very apparent because of the way the camera moves.

The best camera work was probably seen during Vernon’s jam scenes. The candid way it was filmed and edited really made it seem like a vlog.

Other nice cuts.

PERFORMANCE 9/10

 Performance wise, this is a testament to Seventeen’s acting chops as there’s very little dancing and singing. They were tasked to be aspirational and wanderlust on a flying ship. Bad acting can result in awkwardness and cringe. That wasn’t the case here though as they were all very natural (thank goodness because the whole video was them acting).

They dont’ come off as cheesy when they stare into the camera (which is very common among idols who haven’t conquered facial expressions). Their performance itself is great what could make it even better is if someone should have directed them to do something other than staring out and pointing. My only caveat is their energy level doesn’t match the song which has much to do with the fact they’re not singing and can only work with the props at hand. It doesn’t help when the editing itself has no energy. 

CONCLUSION

Again I don’t hate the music video, I just think there’s a bit of lost potential and much space for improvement. I saw more variety in the trailers than I did in the actual music video so my expectations were high coming into this. I love the song very much so I was expecting better production work for the MV as it seems like they had the foundation set up, just didn’t execute it in the best way. Anyway I know the actual album is great so I look forward to listening to their music on loop!

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