Some are calling 2014 the Kpopalypse, and it's hard to disagree with them. Unbelievable scandals, popular members leaving, and devastating tragedies have rocked the Kpop world. It's hard to even remember sometimes why we started listening to Kpop to begin with, with the constant news cycle proclaiming dread and gloom and panic. But then there's Boyfriend to remind us. Boyfriend has a special place in our hearts, and we think that their existence helps remind us why we loved Kpop so much to begin with. Let's explain!
Few groups can pull off such different concepts with such panache and with such a straight face. Item #1: 2014's "Obsession" is a strange reinterpretation of Peter Pan that has the Lost Boys on a mission, attempting to rescue Wendy from a crazed, villainous Peter Pan. Honestly, it took us a while to understand that was the story, and only after watching the video multiple times and reading various YouTube comments were we able to piece that narrative together. And we love that. By creating this inventive world, the viewer is forced to pay closer attention, especially those of us not fluent in Korean. Huh? is just the reaction that got us into Kpop. And that explosion!
We won't spoil it for you, but the Huh??! moment, for us, was off the charts.
Chicago Instead of New York
We're a bit biased here, since we're based out of Chicago, but we think it's so very cool that Boyfriend filmed their music video for "Alarm" here in the Windy City. Seeing staples like the Bean and the Blue Line meshing with Kpop is a nice change from the New York and LA visits of other groups. While Chicago is a major city, we doubt that it stirs the imagination like New York does for everyone around the world (which makes sense, try to name three major South Korean cities).
But by choosing to come to Chicago, to perform and film their video, Boyfriend has left their own unique stamp on America, that few Kpop groups can say they've left. New York and LA are great, sure, whatever, but how many Kpop videos have the Bean in it? This is not the first time Boyfriend has taken the path less traveled. They were the first group to have a solo concert in Puerto Rico. How cool is that?
We've said this many times, but a big part of our love for Kpop is how the cool borders on ridiculous, the lines crossing and intersecting at every turn. And trust us, "Witch" is ridiculous. But also so fun, so perfect for Halloween, and so theatrical. It starts with Donghyun's entrance, the curtains (flags) unfurling behind him. How cool is that moment?
And then those eyes in the dark?
We're not sure if "Witch" is another re-imagining of a story (Red Riding Hood as monster butt-kicker?) or if there's a point to our heroes getting destroyed in slow-motion. But it's fun. And you know what? Kpop needs more fun.
First off, let's just get this out of the way: "Janus" is just an amazing song. We worship it. And we worship the video, sometimes despite ourselves (again: ridiculous). You basically watch Youngmin in anguish for three minutes. But interspersed with that is some stellar dancing, costumes, and the drama of the inner-soul. No matter what crazy concept Boyfriend is doing, they're able to pull it off with style. They're not taking themselves seriously, they're taking Kpop seriously. See the difference? That's how drama can be fun.
(fun fact: did you know Janus signifies the Roman god of beginnings and transitions in myth, usually depicted with two faces, looking both to the past and to the future, the Janus of this video probably represents both the two-faced quality of the spurning lover, but also the two different perceptions of that harrowing heartbreak, one made easier by the acceptance of friends [which is to say that I'm giving a literary analysis on yet another Boyfriend video, which means they may just be one of the most literary inclined boy groups ever]).
Hellish reds, angelic whites, cruel smiles. And somehow, it's captivating instead of trite. That's to the credit of Boyfriend.
Did you see their recent performance on "Show Champion?" They nailed it. They always do. Did you really see it? Watch it again. And again. That's all we're going to say on that.
Why You Should Love Boyfriend
Boyfriend is constantly getting better. Boyfriend is fun but also dramatic. Boyfriend is literary. Symbolic. Boyfriend will help you forget, just for a moment, what a rough year this has been for Kpop. In comparison, With "Alert," "Obsession," and "Witch," Boyfriend's year has been amazing. Boyfriend can save Kpop because Boyfriend is quintessential Kpop. It doesn't have to be the Kpopalypse. We all can love again.