It’s too easy to forget how talented Ga-In is when she’s a part of Brown Eyed Girls. Narsha shares similar lyrical prowess. Jea’s lungs are a force of nature that few can match. Miryo is one of the best rappers in the K-Pop scene. Together, the four members have managed to release sterling pop with mature conceptual videos that are usually daring and a bit confrontational. Not many groups would be willing to tackle subjects ranging from violence, to mercy killing and sororicide. Individually, each member has released singles which are equally worthy of the Brown Eyed Girls brand; mature, professionally done, and often fearless. Ga-In’s new music video, for her song ‘Bloom’, raises the bar even higher, combining a great musical number with an encouraging portrayal of female sexuality.
The song itself is a great lively pop disco number. Maroon 5 just threw up their hands in disgust that they didn’t think of the musical arrangement first. The guitar lick is hypnotic and worms its way into the listener’s ear, refusing to leave until it’s done. Ga-In works the beat masterfully, never being swallowed by it, but just as importantly, never overpowering it. She harmonizes with the beat, and the entire production is better off for it.
The video itself has such a clear intention and vision, that it makes 99% of K-Pop videos look like bland, processed trash in comparison. With a song called ‘Bloom’, off an album called Talk About S, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise what the video is about.
Now, ‘Bloom’ isn’t the only K-Pop video in the world to be about sex. The entire industry is geared towards selling sex, done (barely) subtextually. Sexy dance moves, short shorts, and perverse ‘aegyo’ pervade the K-Pop world at every turn. But, it never celebrates sexuality, especially female sexuality. Female sexuality is often portrayed as dangerous, not healthy (After School’s ‘Flashback’ and Secret’s ‘Poison’ are two videos I can think of off the top of my head that loudly state that female sexuality will kill you). In a crazy netizen culture where Hyuna is lambasted for daring to push her boobs together, as if the action itself spreads herpes, and groups are criticized for wearing dresses which are too short, or for choreography that may feature wiggling deemed too enthusiastic, for Ga-In to release ‘Bloom’ is daring to say the least. Not many Korean artists would agree to, let alone insist on, including a scene in which she masturbates.
And enjoying it, along with the sexy time which follows. The opening scene, which is filmed in 4:3 ratio and strung through an instagram filter, is well thought out as it helps establish Ga-In as a regular ole 25 year old who probably instagrams her breakfast. The sets when the actual music kicks in are bright in contrast, and are a little disorienting as Ga-In wakes up surrounded by five dancing metrosexual men.
Yet, the soft lighting and bright colors elicit an aura of comfort and joy.The inter-cuts of Ga-In singing while CGI’d flowers bloom everywhere around her may be completely unnecessary (HEY IT’S TOTALLY SYMBOLIZES TEH SEX) but the brightness and cheeriness help solidify the video’s intentions, without trivializing them. All of the scenes involving sex are done in sunlight, conveying a sense of wholesomeness that is a welcomed relief from the usual ways sex is portrayed in videos; something dark and dangerous, accompanied with seizure-inducing flashes of searing lights. ‘Bloom’ emphatically rejects this. Sexuality shouldn’t be hidden in shame, or obfuscated with club lighting.
The video ends much as it begins, with that 4:3 ratio instagram film. Ga-In isn’t noticeably changed or transformed. She’s still the same girl she was at the start of the video. Sex neither destroys her, nor defines her existence. And as… common sense as that should be, it’s still a rare sight to see in pop, whether that be in Asia or America (where both have more conservative views on sexuality). To portray female sexuality as something enjoyable, healthy, and normal is a bold stance to take in a culture which is still explicitly prudish (and implicitly a little pervy… Viagra-filled uncle fans splooging to young girls saying “OPPPAAA” almost ruins K-Pop. Almost). Yet, Ga-In does, and does it proudly. Even though she knew that the video would undoubtedly be banned from TV, she refused to change any of it. And good for her. A woman enjoying super fun happy sexy time shouldn’t be controversial or unsettling. ‘Bloom’ is a welcomed salvo against slut shaming and it is unsurprising to see a Brown Eyed Girl like Ga-In leading the charge. You go girl. Get some.