Though it was probably released four months too late in terms of thematic relevance, Sunmi’s “Full Moon” couldn’t have come at a better time for K-Pop.
Who would have thought that, at the end of the day, Sunmi would have a K-Pop career which lives longer than the Wonder Girls. Yet, here we are and if Sunmi’s solo efforts are proving anything, it’s that there’s probably a space for her in K-Pop as long as she wants it. With “Full Moon”, Sunmi and JYP Entertainment have released a music video that is like a breath of fresh air after most every K-Pop video has seemed to go for the dance-in-a-box look combined with a sexy concept. Sometimes, horror is satisfying.
The song? It could be better but it could also have been much worse. The collaboration between Brave Brothers and JYP Entertainment (which is unfortunately blared about to start the song as if this was some monumental peace treaty between the two rival nations) combines some of each’s more unfortunate tendencies. There’s some of JYP’s instinct for understatedness when rich flourishes would work better – especially when one considers the grandness of the music video. This can be heard most clearly in the percussion which just trudges along with all the enthusiasm and energy of a stroll. Brave Brothers appears to have inserted their penchant for dance pop but they stray from the darker, grungier sound that could have worked really well here (think of SISTAR’s “Alone”). While a Brave Brothers collaboration could have helped mitigate some of the sterility, the producers seem to aim for middle-of-the-road with only the swirling electric guitar and saxophone being identifiable Brave Brothers moments.
Sunmi’s vocals emphasize the workmanlike nature of the audio track. Alternating between a rasp and clear tone, Sunmi rides the middle register of the beat but doesn’t attempt to do too much with it. The hook of “eh, eh, eh, eh, eh” perfectly captures the perfunctory spirit of the “Full Moon” track. The highlight may end up being rapper Lena who brings some much needed sneer to a production that too often aspires for “passingly enjoyable”. “Full Moon” isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination but it’s far from being a song which screams instant classic either. It aims for average and hits it square on the mark.
It’s kind of a shame because “Full Moon” kills it as a video. There’s actual camera techniques involved in order to add some delightful scares and a sense of dread throughout. The sets are fantastic and props are utilized very well. Best of these techniques is the near teleportation of Sunmi and her backup dancers (something that, while you know it’s coming, still manages to shock each time). The deliberate way that the direction chooses to slowly pan in nearly every cut contrasts effectively with the sudden scary “movements” of vampire Sunmi and her minions (and it works damn it). The outdoor set in the snow is a thing of beauty. A rich red couch will always draw the eye but it is the framing of it with Sunmi decked out in white, and backup dancers in black, which really works well. Lighting is employed so that one can get lost in the bleak atmosphere but it’s never dark enough to the point that one can’t see what’s going on or lose the background in dimness.
The real strength of the video lies in the choreography which acts as a reminder that there is more to choreography than simply waving one’s hips (though Sunmi does that quite well too):
Simply put, her hands are everywhere and it’s great. The intricate hand movements that “Full Moon” uses helps set it apart from its contemporaries. There’s no question when it comes to the choreography scenes that one is watching a carefully prepared routine that took some time to plan and practice to execute. Sunmi’s moves are so good that it’s doubly jarring when a freaky moment happens as “Full Moon” is one routine that could have successfully been a dance-in-a-box concept. The play between the smoothness of Sunmi’s movements which lures the viewer into the video and the “jump scares” those dance moves set up is the kind of pacing and stylistic interaction that good horror films pull off regularly and Sunmi manages to do just that with “Full Moon”.
There’s a good chance that I won’t be able to tell you what “Full Moon” sounds like next month but I won’t have any problem recollecting the video. The song is passable and never more ambitious than that. The video is good fun and surprisingly effective at jolt scares when juxtaposed with a song that doesn’t scream horror genre. After the cavalcade of sexy concepts that seemed to bleed into each other after a while, Sunmi and “Full Moon” have pumped some (undead?) life back into K-Pop.
4 Vampire Bites out of 5 Full Moons (isn’t that a werewolf thing anyways?)