Once in a while in Kpop, someone breaks the routine just enough to make us turn our heads and take notice. This does not necessarily mean that they have to create an entirely new mold and then break it, but they should just barely tread between the “acceptable” and the “inappropriate.” Aoora is a relatively unknown voice in this crowded world of Kpop, probably, ironically, because he fully embraces the 19+ rating his MV trailers and albums have with a sense of full abandon.
At the ripe (old) age of 26, Aoora was one of the founding members of the boy group AA (Double A), and one of the key choreographers of the group's underrated and under-appreciated debut, “So Crazy.” But Aoora on his own has gained more recognition than his bandmates for the disorienting style of his music. It's equal parts overtly and explicitly sexual, and yet equal parts ridiculous. I like to think that I am quite good at deciphering the differences between parody and sincerity, but when it comes to Aoora I don't know what to make of what I'm watching and listening to. Is it a joke? Is it serious? Is it both? I can't tell, and that's what draws me deeper into his presence as an artist.
Kpop has a strange obsession with anything “sexy” but an aversion to sexuality itself in a way that is almost grossly hypocritical. There is no shortage of sexy concepts, ranging from midriff baring tops, and pants resembling underwear, to gyrating hips and all manner of dance moves that are borderline raunchy. But once an idol crosses the line and is rumored to have any kind of physical relationship, they immediately discredit any kind of innocent image, and ruins their appeal for fans. Morality in Kpop is reserved for netiziens calling out idols for being too sexual and decrying the fall of the entire industry. Aoora is not Kpop, however, his solo efforts are not entirely Kpop, and the “19+ idol” should be taken in through a different lens than the one we use to talk about idol groups.
It's this strange dichotomy that makes Aoora as an artist so attractive. His command of voice and tone is impressive, and well suited to this style of heavily R&B-influenced music. Listening to the music alone is quite pleasant, and he is no doubt very skilled. But it's when you watch his music videos and short trailers that Aoora really showcases a heavy dose of sexuality without the innocent facade that plagues so many idol groups. He's explicit, but not distasteful. The imagery is not anything that you would be hard pressed to find in non idol music videos. It comes at you in a frantic way, leaving you little time to process what you actually just saw, and sometimes so awkward that it deserves a laugh.
There is something so overtly sexual about Aoora that makes his style fun because of his self-awareness of this inescapable topic. I would definitely reserve this for more mature fans, as noted by the 19+ ratings on each video and album. Aoora is a young man, and able to express himself, despite a rigid entertainment system that sees idols becoming overtly “sexy” or too “innocent” and “naive.” It makes for a refreshing change from the forced “sexiness” of idols.
Aoora's latest mini album, You, Will Romantic was released last month, and he has 9 singles altogether. Each one is worth a listen, and more importantly, a watch. Aoora has been very active with his MV and album releases, and I am eagerly anticipating more.
'L' lives in Ontario, Canada. She is a pop culture and media junkie and has helped organize kpop parties and events across Ontario. Her biases are BTS, Block B, M.I.B and Infinite.