Gain rocked our world last week with the release of her Hawwah mini-album, which really is a must-listen for any avid Kpop lover. Just about every song on the album is gold (we especially love the sultry and fun "Apple" and the darkly energetic "Guilty"). If this were a traditional review, we'd be gushing about this whole comeback before giving it an inevitable A+ and you'd be sick of us writing about it already. So let's instead take a closer look at Gain's mesmerizing music video for "Paradise Lost." We were stunned by this video the first time we watched it, and it has held up miraculously well to repeated viewings, and there's not one reason why. Not just one, at least. So, without further ado, let's a look at five reasons why we'll be talking about "Paradise Lost" for the entire year (at least)!
With the mini-album titled Hawwah ("Eve" in Hebrew), and along with "Paradise Lost," with such song titles like "Apple," "The First Temptation," "Free Will," "Guilty," heck, maybe even "Two Women" alluding to Old Testament sin and seduction, there should be no surprise that their are many Biblical images that surround "Paradise Lost." It probably wouldn't take a Biblical scholar to interpret the video as an ode to the Bible's most despised snake, which tempted Eve in that one Garden a long time ago. There's even a snake slithering around in the video!
Gain is not the first idol to allude to Biblical themes - American idols do this all of the time - but what's interesting here is the sophistication of that allusion. How it's working from the outside in. If you take a look at the lyrics, besides "Paradise Lost" (which is really from the poet, John Milton) you'll find not a single word that directly references the Old Testament. If you were to take out the title (and yes, the occasional church organs) and made an entirely different video, this could very well be just a simple song about seduction. My point is this: this Biblical referencing is not heavy handed, it's not cheesy, and, it's all very open to interpretation. What's perfect about the music video for "Paradise Lost" is that it adds so much to the actual song. The snake imagery, the costumes, the choreography all bring out these biblical themes so the song itself doesn't have to.
2. That Choreography Tho
Much has been made about Gain's sultry choreography which she has already had to adjust for specific live music shows (you know who you are). But while most girl groups obsess over butt wiggles that have grown, slowly, to be tiresome, Gain's choreography is purposeful, erotic, and refreshingly leg-centric. You're probably already thinking about that one sequence at the beginning, where Gain, lying face-down, lifts her hindquarters up in the air, before dropping back to the ground. It's bizarre and, for once, something remarkably different from what we've been seeing. And, as Gain will explain herself in the video below, this move is directly tied to the Biblical snake that is so essential to the seductive themes of the song.
But what I'm thinking about is that amazing black and white dance montage that starts at the 2.48 mark, which slowly erupts into an intense cacophony of leg thrusting and body flipping that reminds this viewer of Taemin's chaotic dance sequence in last year's "Danger."
It's a stunning sequence while also being a bit absurd with what looks like a burst of improvisation or perhaps some possession. But that rawness gives the video an edge that makes it truly memorable.
When we mention butt, we're usually complaining about Kpop's tiring obsession with butt and butt alone in sexy concepts. And yes, Gain has some provocative butt shots of her own in this video. But nothing compares to the writhing and very naked male bodies at the end of the video.
It's an iconic image and one that I believe symbolizes the snake opening the door on sin and temptation, this untapped, animal desire. It's like the mouth of hell has opened and all of the sin is pouring out. You may have your own interpretation here, but it's impossible not to have some kind of interpretation. What's especially odd about this moment is how the rest of this video doesn't really grasp onto the fantastic or supernatural. Most of the video is of Gain and the choreography. But then, this happens. Some may be shocked by the bare butts, but the image is startling and a perfect disturbing moment to end this video.
4. The Song (Obviously)
"Paradise Lost" is probably not even the second best song on the mini-album, but it is a song that is most in need of a music video. There's an epic quality to "Paradise Lost" that needs a worthy video to compliment it. But that's not all. The use of organs gives this song a sense of Gothic dread. Gain's sultry voice teeters between power and vulnerability (as only she can). While not as complex and unseemly as "Fxxk You," "Paradise Lost" does keep much of those adult themes. This song is perfect for Gain, and perfect for her to promote.
5. Son Ga-In
And speaking of which, this video, this song, this comeback would be nothing without Son Ga-In. Team that hypothetical artist with Jay Park or Mad Clown all you want, but what's most important here is the star. Make no mistake, there is no other Kpop idol that could pull this comeback off. Gain has developed into her own unique artist, one that tackles, unflinchingly, the complexities of sex and desire, in always brave, compelling ways. You may argue who the true Queen of Kpop is, but with "Paradise Lost" Gain proves, once again, that she is in a class all her own.
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.