This is how impressive Oh My Girl's dance formations are: To fully appreciate the movements and to catch the members forming sings of the zodiac, one has to view their performance from above, like watching a Busby Berkeley musical, like mapping the stars in a clear night sky.
Now, ultimately it doesn't matter if you can make out the astrological signs or can decipher the telegraphed movements. To enjoy "Closer" doesn't require this feat, and the live music show performances, while sometimes cutting to an overhead view, don't really emphasize this sophistication. What's impressive here is the simple fact that they've even gone to such lengths to begin with. It adds to the allure of the concept, the inherent mystery. Not everything is as it seems.
Which can be said about Oh My Girls as a rookie group. On first glance, or, say, cupid's arrow, we've been hit with an inoffensive girl group tapping into the innocence and elfin femininity of an A Pink or early SNSD (or: S.E.S.). There are many groups targeting that fan demographic, in varying degrees, almost to the point where nearly every rookie girl group, from April to G-Friend to Loveleyz, will someday inherit this sub-genre of playful quasi-adolescence. So, while "Cupid" was actually a good song, the arrow didn't quite hit on target, and Oh My Girl seemed destined to fall in the middle of this pack.
But then, enter: "Closer."
With "Closer," the eight member group impresses with their choreography and their vocals, lifted by the beautifully ethereal song. While their outfits are more in line with their schoolgirl counterparts (Lovelyz, G-Friend, etc), the music video takes on the more dreamlike state of the song, and the girls exchange their aegyo for the sublime. It's a welcome tradeoff.
What's wonderful/strange/mystifying about Oh My Girl's "Closer," is that sublime quality that makes this rookie group, who had their first release just this April, so wistful - there's a sense of adventure and mystery with the music video, but also this sadness that is punctuated by this, well - longing.
What's also wonderful/strange/mystifying with "Closer," and, specifically here with the music video, are the startling images that call back to fairy tales and fables.
After YooA wakes up from her long slumber, she's led through the mysterious forest by Binnie, in Little Red Riding Hood garb, holding a lantern, YooA's Virgil in this underworld.
Binnie leads YooA to a ferry, where she travels, alone, on a dark and foggy sea (with water so shallow that she encounters a baby deer - just out of reach).
This river/ocean/pond feels more like the River Styx and is reminiscent of that mysterious deathly journey - until YooA, perhaps the most innocent-looking of the members of Oh My Girl, reaches the ruins of an ancient civilization - one that looks pagan in origin, like something out of Stonehenge, or how Hollywood portrays sacrificial Druid temples.
There is a sense of ruin and these images, steeped in our old fables and legends, help solidify this feeling of decay. Of the old world gone away (and awry).
When YooA encounters an old mirror, touching it, the world brightens, but even that is just a memory, one that YooA can only witness. She is unable to stop herself and her friends from partaking from the tree - the apple, yes, the golden apple, the forbidden fruit.
Lean in to closely to find meaning, and you're only going to get a headache. I'm sure that a deep interpretation of this music video is unnecessary and will prove fruitless (fruit - get it?!), but having a forbidden apple is significant and has been since Snow White took her bite, and, long, long before her, when Eve took her own. These things never end well.
And then, finally, YooA finds "herself" in a car overgrown by vines and nature - when she touches her inert body (likely: dead), covered in a shroud, she sees the world as it was, with her friends by her side.
We can't feel the real sorrow for the ruined world without knowing what was lost: friendship, warmth, love. Why can't things return to the way they were?
We can get close (closer, even), but, in the end, YooA can't stop herself from doing what she's already done. She stares at her body, there's a moment of recognition, and then, the video ends.
It's heartbreaking; it's abrupt. It's final. Even Oh My Girl fades away.
So, why am I writing about this release now and pointing out images and tropes you've probably registered immediately?
Because, dear reader, it's important that this music video incorporates these classical tropes, these images, and, with the dream-like song, with the astrological choreography - with Seunghee singing "Can you hear my cry?" and breaking your heart every single time - "Closer" manages to create a dreamlike world that never was, that you somehow long for to return. That's why I keep returning to this video, again and again (maybe that's why you do too). This majestic release makes you nostalgic for the imagined.
And they're rookies. Imagine what Oh My Girl will do next?
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.