Review: VIXX's Evocative 'Chained Up'

Over the past three years, VIXX has been rising fast as one of Kpop’s most impressive and most polished boy groups, and has carved out quite a name for themselves with their intense concept-based brand of music videos. Their most recent MV for the single "Chained Up," off their second full-length album (also titled Chained Up) is still easily recognizable as a VIXX MV, but enough of a step away for all those who were beginning to tire of the goth concept.

As a track, "Chained Up" is musically fairly different from VIXX’s other recent offerings. It doesn’t have the almost chromatic melody of tracks like "Hyde" or "VOODOO," but it also doesn’t have the bubbly, cutesy tones of "G.R.8.U" or "Love Equation." "Chained Up" has a definite groove, though, with a nice amount of EDM going on, and to me seems closer to a track like "B.O.D.Y" off the group’s first full-length album VOODOO. On a personal level, I really enjoy "Chained Up" – because, honestly, I loved the gothic concepts to begin with, but I never managed to become a big fan of "Error" or "Eternity" I wanted something that was a bit smoother to come my way. "Chained Up" is my jam, unashamedly – on my way to university this morning, I listened to it five times in a row.

As for the actual music video, "Chained Up" is a step away from the usual VIXX fare in some respects. There’s still the incredibly well-fitted suits, the heavy eye make-up and general lack of lighting. However, there doesn’t seem to be a cohesive story that a video like "HYDE" had. In "HYDE," the VIXX members were clearly struggling with their inner demons and trying to hold onto some semblance of their usual outward demeanors. In "Chained Up," there is clearly a very loose overarching plot of the members being imprisoned in some way – either surrounded by literal chains like Leo, trapped in a box like Ken, or in an incredibly shallow pit of water like Hongbin. There are definite points for trying with the symbolism there, but in terms of being "Chained Up," none of the VIXX members would have any trouble freeing themselves from their prisons (save for Ken, who doesn’t seem to have any way out of his extremely pretty flower cage). Ravi, for example, is just hidden behind some hospital curtains…and I’m pretty sure he could just burst through those at any time like he does towards the end of the MV. But that doesn’t even cover youngest member Hyuk, who just kind of looks at a set of stairs for a while and then sits down on them briefly.

However, the fact that the VIXX members could easily move from their prisons and choose not to is reflected in the lyrics. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the lyrics, while not explicitly sexual, have a definite sexual tone. The members of VIXX sing about how an unnamed person is their "love" and "controller," and how they’re "like a beast completely trained by [you]." So there’s a definite dominance/submission tone throughout the song. VIXX being stuck in situations which they, to an extent, don’t want to leave then starts to make more sense.

Either way, the symbolism of VIXX standing around and staring broodily off into space is lacking – but honestly, lack of symbolism doesn’t bother me one bit. I don’t think this MV has any great philosophical meaning, but I do think it works in an evocative manner. The MV is pretty, VIXX look great, and I thoroughly enjoy the song. I love the choreography, and I’m absolutely LIVING for those suits. I think attempting to argue that VIXX’s "Chained Up" doesn’t have any kind of plot or meaning is false - but music videos don’t always need to be Spielberg-worthy productions. Sometimes a jam is just a jam, and a video is just accompanying imagery to make the experience more enjoyable. That’s what I personally get out of "Chained Up," and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Plus, just look at those shoulder wiggles.

Helen Edworthy is an English Sociology undergraduate who got lost in the world of K-Pop five years ago. She tweets at @captain_helen and her biases are UKISS and NS YoonG.


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