If 2014 was, as they say, the Kpopalypse, than Hello Venus' "Wiggle Wiggle" must undoubtedly be the first music video to coolly represent this new Post-Kpopalyptic landscape. It's a world both familiar and unsettling - a world torched by scandal, our major idols fallen, Kpop's major institutions shaken to their core. Just think: Not even SNSD is a certainty anymore. And what arises from the ashes? Wiggle. Wiggle.
The build up to "Wiggle Wiggle" did not happen overnight, no. "Wiggle Wiggle" wiggled it's way slowly and insidiously through the Kpop mainframe. We were Wiggle Wiggling before we even knew the implications. We were more concerned with ending 2014 on a high note, a murmur, a quiet goodnight.
We all saw the harbinger. A harmless dance video that Hello Venus released after their unspectacular "Sticky Sticky" promotions, to Jason Derulo's original "Wiggle." We've seen dance videos before, with other groups playing with the choreography of some of their own favorites. Though this was far more salacious, the camera far more promiscuous than most dance videos, it did not give us pause. Frankly, we didn't know any better.
But then the best/worst possible thing that could have happened with the video happened.
It went viral.
Okay, not EXID viral, but, in an industry as confused as Kpop is right now, when you catch lightning in a bottle, you use that lightning to power the world.
What followed, can only be characterized as an assault.
While none of us can be certain how far into development of their own version of Wiggle Fantagio had in production (records of anything before the Post-Kpopalyptic period are scarce), when they obtained the highly coveted Brave Sound, they were able to attack the ravaged Kpop landscape from several ingenious fronts.
We have the popular Choreography Practice Video:
Which featured the dance practice with a stationary camera. And then we have the eye contact version, introduced and perfected by AOA before them:
Which, really, isn't anywhere near close to the precision of AOA's eye contact versions, with various cuts and odd closeups. But anyway, they didn't stop there, Hello Venus even detailed their methodology with a point lesson version, like so:
Where they showcased one of their most intriguing moves that isn't even in the music video: lifting the shirts of the members around you. When they ran out of dance versions to fill their YouTube deposits, they deployed their secret weapon, code named: Alice.
Don't be fooled by her adorable introduction. That's what they want you to do. Pay attention.
See Alice goofing off for the camera. See Alice become a born hater.
See Alice be Alice.
Love Alice? Why not love Alice? Why not watch Alice lead Hello Venus in their live performances? Here's a comeback stage at the beginning of the year.
Did they perform choreography that would make even Wa$$up blush? Was Seo Young's screeching nearly unbearable? It would have been, a year ago. But the times, they had undoubtedly changed. Which is to say, I'm missing the most important part of this attack. All of this, the comeback stage, the behind-the-scenes videos, the various dance practices, the bloopers even, all of it - came before the official music video's release. Unheard of? No. Some groups debut their songs on music programs or have behind-the-scenes clips to whet the attention of their fanbase. But to this scale? In Kpop? That's building anticipation. That's building word of mouth. Trying to manufacture lighting twice in that damn bottle. This is truly a new world.
So, what of it?
It would be easy to condemn Hello Venus, and, more appropriately, Fantiago, for cashing in on the "Wiggle" viral video with a cynical thrust towards the lowest common denominator. The video is cheaply made, grimy, dark, and mostly unpleasant to watch. The song itself is basic, with awkward screeching (previously mentioned), and nothing spectacular enough to note except for Lime's cute but much too short proclamation of her apple hiiiips. This is all very easy to bash here, and all fair game for a critical site to pick apart.
But what I want you to think about is this new landscape, that even "Wiggle Wiggle" is a part of creating. Kpop is in a strange turning point here. EXID's viral success, being born of fancam, is actually a big deal. It shows that even the smaller groups, if they tap into the right market, the explicit need, can succeed. What is Hello Venus trying to tap here?
I think you know already. And they're tapping into that market with flagrant abandon. GO BIG OR GO HOME. So yes, with all of the damage that 2014 has wrought on groups like 2NE1, SNSD, f(x), etc, it should not be surprising that the meek will (attempt to) inherit the earth. This is not a slur. This mayhem could actually be a lot of fun too.
Hello Venus is not the end of Kpop. With their ingenious roll out of "Wiggle Wiggle," their ridiculous choreography, and their rush to reach the top, they may just be setting a new precedent with their assault. Be calm. Rejoice! 2015's Post-Kpopalyptic world might just surprise you.
Timothy Moore writes from Chicago. He blogs at Read My Blog Please, and edits at Ghost Ocean Magazine. His biases are T-ara, Block B, Nine Muses, Brown Eyed Girls, and Girl's Day.