Review: TVXQ – “Spellbound” Does Just That

022714-tvxq-spellbound_mv

Note: Yes, it’s old and shame on me for bypassing this one when it was released. Thanks to Allison Nakamura and Vai for prodding me in the right direction. Though there’s two versions of this video now, this review will be for the first release because it’s better.

TVXQ is one of the most dependable duos working K-Pop today and both Yunho and Changmin could headline any group they damn well please and it would be solid. Together, they’re usually golden and “Spellbound” is no exception.

The production for “Spellbound” is pretty good. A smooth neo-soul beat straddles the line between cheesy and classy. Saxophones will always be welcomed additions to pop music and the percussion relies more on snares and cymbals than bass to give “Spellbound” an old-school vibe. The vocals leave one torn. On the one hand, there are few who can belt out notes with as much force and clarity as TVXQ and both are given some proper opportunities to elevate “Spellbound” during its five minute run time. On the other hand, some aggressive double-tracking and auto-tuning is used on the chorus and hooks which kind of works and kind of doesn’t. It definitely helps sell the “soul”  sound but its so exaggerated that it borders on parody. In all, it was probably the right decision as the processing provides some contrast and variation for “Spellbound” but one can’t help but think that the production tricks on the vocals could have been left out without suffering much from a quality standpoint.

Look at dat smoothness.

Look at dat smoothness.

Whatever hangups one has about the production choices for the song should be swept away with the video. SM Entertainment is rightly knocked for using the “dance in a box” concept as a crutch but with “Spellbound” TVXQ validates everything right with falling back on the cookie-cutter. Unlike the often spastic “Mr. Mr.”, “Spellbound” knows how to make a dance video shine. The direction is clear and cuts are far and few between which means (gasp) that the viewer can actually follow what’s happening on screen and can properly see what the choreography looks like. The camera pans around and goes in and out of the routine without being invasive or distracting, telegraphing movement while still allowing the actual performers to speak for themselves.

The classy black and white styling of TVXQ is clean and works well with the backing set, which is lit just brightly enough to pop without being distracting. In fact, the only “distracting” thing in the video may end up being the backup dancers who are almost unfairly hot for window dressing. It doesn’t hurt that the choreography is fairly great and the girls (and tvxq) really sell it all.

Yase.

Yase.

Seriously, someone get them a deal for their own group. Guaranteed they could put on a better routine than most of the girl groups out there based on how they move for TVXQ.

Whenever the most glaring thing I can say about a music video is that the backup dancers are distractingly hot, it’s probably a good sign. TVXQ is never not the stars of their own work but that’s pushed to its limits in “Spellbound”, another very good release from one of K-Pop’s most consistent acts.

MOAR backup dancers please.

Second time around is pretty much just as good, minus garish cards set piece.

Second time around is pretty much just as good, minus garish cards set piece.

What’s that? Wish granted.

But there's still so much more right than wrong.

But there’s still so much more right than wrong.

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6 comments

  1. YAAAAAYYY OPPAR YAAAAAAYYYY ☆*・゜゚・*\(^O^)/*・゜゚・*☆ i pointed out to you because one of the dancer (who danced with yunho) looks just like fei omg. goldennn. and the one with changmin is just like older ver of krystal. everything is so good (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

    and yes the first ver is so much better. second one is a bit jarring but also enjoyable because of the different sets and outfits and MOAR CLOSEUPSSS (yunho eyefucking the camera no matter how “eehhh” his hair here, chami being glossy eyed handsomeball). the song itself is a perfect addition to the fabulous tense album. i just love everything about it. i’m a bit of taken aback by how poor korea accept it, which is bad because i can already imagine this blasting in most cafes along with other jazzy tunes. all in all, perfect song with perfect mv for perfect duo *✲゚*。✧٩(・ิᴗ・ิ๑)۶*✲゚*。✧

    (thanks for the review! added it to my pocket just for the enjoyment of reread xx)

  2. I’m really hoping that at least some of the dancers are trainees and will be in SM’s next girl group, I would stan them so hard! I feel like at least the one who acts as dealer has a good possibility because she got so much more focus than a normal backup dancer would, like how SM Rookie Irene was the female lead in Henry’s “143”

    Also I’m in awe of the ponytail control going on, I wish I could move mine like that!

  3. That was fun to watch but I found the song hard to get behind. The sax and wailing made it a little too busy for my very mainstream K-Pop taste and I felt it lacked a strong hook. The duo can really move but the star of the MV was the dancer that ended the video holding the card. It’s like she was given extra liberty/instructions to look, smile and even wink straight into the camera while the others mostly avoided eye contact. Yup, will not be surprised one bit if she ends up in a new SM group.

    1. nah, they’re all professional dancers in a dance group (like beatburger). SME and JYP used them all in their artists’ mvs and concerts

      1. Thanks for that information. I might have read too much into the MV but it’s not unusual for backup dancers to have idol aspirations of their own. Seo In Young’s 2 backup dancers in her Cinderalla MV turned out to be Viki (former Dal Shabet) and Sunga (9 Muses).
        Many know that Kahi/Gahee used to be BoA’s backup dancer but so was Lizzy from After School, who was a backup dancer for Son Dambi’s Saturday Night. Thank you, Google.

      2. yep yep that Kahi and Lizzy part are correct ^^

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