Never Ever, Ever Never: A Review of Jiyeon's Solo Debut

Jiyeon "Never Ever"

May has been a huge month for female solo debuts. We reviewed Hyoseong’s scorching “Goodnight Kiss” last week, and we thought that she brought charisma and mature sexiness to her debut. Next up is Jiyeon’s “Never Ever (1 Min 1 Sec).” Would she impress with her own striking debut?


Yes

The short answer is, well, yes. With “Never Ever (1 Min 1 Sec),” Jiyeon slows things down for us. Even the video is slow, the frame rate clipped to give a stop-motion nightmarish quality. CCM (Core Contents Media), despite their storied public relations incompetencies, never skimps on production. Their videos are always cinematic, their songs pulsating, their choreography iconic. And Jiyeon is already a superstar. She just needed a song to cement her stardom.

And “Never Ever (1 Min 1 Sec)” is that song. It’s definitely not what we were expecting, which was something more electronic, a club hit along the lines of Hyoseong’s “Goodnight Kiss.” What we have with “Never Ever” is far more serious and soulful. Even the dance practice video is super serious (there’s not a smile in the room). The “Never Ever” chorus is catchy, and, while not vocally challenging, the angst-ridden singing fits the dramatic Jiyeon perfectly.

Inspiring the clipped video and choreography is Duble Sidekick’s beat that seems to stop in time, especially after the second note in each measure. The frequent pauses have an effect that is both jarring and forceful. At each stop, the emotion builds until it can be held back no more, overflowing into the next note with a well placed drop in scale. Pauses on the first and fourth notes keep the beat from feeling patterned or predictable, giving it that edgy vibe that Jiyeon exploits so well.


Vintage

We love the the choreography. The style brings back memories of “Cry Cry.” Seeing Jiyeon splash in the rain again makes it hard for us to not think of T-ara’s extravagant glory days.

If G.NA and Hyoseong are missing anything in the choreography for their latest songs it’s memorable dance moves, which Jiyeon has here. The hip movement against the wall is subtle and sexy. When Jiyeon lifts her jacket above her head, swaying her body, we might be seeing the dance move of the summer. When Jiyeon and her dancers drop to the ground, slow motion in the water, it’s such an earnest display that we can’t help but love it. Yes, the dancing is super dramatic, like everything else in the production, and that’s what’s so great about it. The theatrical absurdity of it all makes “Never Ever” vintage Kpop.

Jiyeon "Never Ever"

The Horror

The video itself is slightly terrifying. The stop-motion effect is off-putting, and makes even banal activities like cutting vegetables wrought with unease. When the world begins to fall apart, it’s almost a relief. The faceless shaking head of the man in white is another horror trope that leads to the realization of the character’s madness.

The dance cuts don’t really fit the rest of the video as much as they could (except for the cool, seemingly symbolic mirror sequence), especially with the simmering sexuality, but really, that’s the case for most Kpop videos. It is interesting that some of the dance cuts have the same strange film rate as the story section, but less interesting that the video begins with a large camera swooping in on a contemplative Jiyeon. It makes the video feel like a BTS film instead of the horror piece that follows. Fortunately, the video and Jiyeon herself are compelling enough that the intro is soon forgotten.

Jiyeon "Never Ever"

Jiyeon is a Superstar

We knew that already. But with “Never Ever,” Jiyeon can finally strike her own claim in Kpop. We’re looking forward to her live performances and seeing more of Jiyeon as a solo artist. “Never Ever (1 Min 1 Sec)” is definitely a debut that was worth the wait.

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