Review: Super Junior – “This Is Love” Showcases SM’s Dance-In-A-Box Love In A Very Flattering Light

this is love

One wouldn’t fault Super Junior for sleepwalking through “This Is Love.” The song was essentially made to try and sell an extra copy of “MAMACITA” to fans and those types of packages are often token efforts by K-Pop labels to begin with. So, the fact that “This Is Love” is not only a jam that is definitely worthy of being a single but a pretty fun video to boot is almost as surprising as the fact that I’m reviewing a guy K-Pop video for the first time in forever (it’s been way too long since my last one).

“This Is Love” has all the swagger of a good R&B jam and all the lightness of a bubble gum pop song. Finding that balance between sugary joy and sensuality is tough but “This Is Love” manages to balance both aspects through a nice blend of latter-day Timberlake and a beat that wouldn’t be out of place in a posthumous Michael Jackson release. Warm opaque synths play off of some nice sharp guitar licks and a piano interjects every now and again to give “This Is Love” some sentimentality to go with its groove. As for the vocals, the great thing about having fifty billion members is that it allows for some excellent double-tracking which makes the whole song sound incredibly rich. The chorus is simple but effective and it pretty much worms its way into the brain and stays there far past when the last note plays. Sure, nothing about “This Is Love” stands out as some sort of revelation but every element is carefully crafted and smartly put together and that leads to a very enjoyable and solid single.

Dat lean tho.

Dat lean tho.

The video is yet more evidence that while SM Entertainment may fall back on the dance-in-a-box concept way too often, they do so knowing that they can make something decent with the format with striking regularity. The editing is the real star of the show as disorienting backgrounds and blended cuts create a confusion that, well, is sort of good at visually emulating what  it’s like to be hit with a metric ton of feels. There is a seamlessness to “This Is Love” that is shrewdly set up against a multitude of backgrounds which keeps the whole video engaging. Importantly, it at least looks like something that couldn’t have just been a dance practice video. There’s an attention to detail and planning that is all too often lost in girl group K-Pop videos (which are often just flat choreo shots interspersed with members sitting and staring prettily into the camera). “This Is Love” gives a damn about framing and pacing and the climactic “360” degree pan around every set is well set up and executed, made all the more amazing by how the editing is able to juggle having to include THAT many members in the video itself.

So beautiful (The shot. Ok, the guys too).

So beautiful (The shot. Ok, the guys too).

Simply put, if all dance-in-a-box videos could be made this well while paired with a song that suits it this nicely, I’d never complain about the format again. As is, “This Is Love” is one of the better dance-in-a-box music videos of the year and it’s a fairly great jam in its own right.

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10 comments

  1. black soshi · · Reply

    Nice tune. I don’t listen to much guy-pop but this was pretty decent. How many members are SJ anyhow? From the video it would appear there are nine, and I gotta admit that pisses me off a little bit.

    1. For the moment they are 10, 13 basically minus two who left years ago and one who is currently in the army.
      Or 15 if you take SJ-M sub-unit Zhoumi and Henry as members (like I do)

  2. Reblogged this on ditdita02.

  3. That is pretty good. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Slug. I’ve been trying to expand my KPOP horizons to include the boy groups & the less known, but it is of course a dizzying array of artists/groups to wade through. Found a one or two 2PM tracks I like, but again, there is sooo much to go through to find the gems. Look forward to more horizon-expanding reviews.

    So HOW many guys were in this group originally then? More than 15!? 10 is too many to me… I thought 9 was a lot when first saw GG.

    1. I’m going to try and make an effort to ease more guy K-Pop back into this, especially the bigger groups.

  4. Editing was goo, but so was the camera work. Very likely the same team that did Red Velvet’s ‘Be Natural’ MV too. Can’t help but think of Zack Snyder’s 300 when I see the long takes, wide sweeps and fast zooms to extreme closeups. Fun video to watch.

    1. Yeah, the more I watch it, the more I like it.

      1. KoreasTina · ·

        They have been active since 2005 so they got it locked. Their live performances are amazing too. Not just because the vocals and dancing are polished, but they look like they are having fun!
        You should check out the follow up MV to this – Evanesce. The dance break in that and the lighting is really frickin’ nice!!!
        ELF fo lyfe!

  5. Shindong was highly active in the MV production. In fact, it is a farewell gift from Shindong to his fans apparently.

  6. Blatant Wonder Girls ripoff, is all I can say 😉

    Naw, the song is smooth

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