Review: Ga In – “Paradise Lost” Is Perfect

ga in paradise lost cover

As great as Ga In is in the Brown Eyed Girls, her solo releases are highlights in their own right. Whether it’s the positive outlook on female sexuality of “Bloom” or the serious take on domestic sexual abuse in “Fxxk U,” Ga In is no stranger to tackling subjects and themes that most K-Pop acts would never dream of touching. “Paradise Lost” falls in the same vein of Ga In’s previous works. It’s a mature take on a mature subject matter that is done absolutely perfectly.

There is a cinematic quality to “Paradise Lost” that elevates it beyond usual pop fare. An eerie string intro perfectly transitions into an organ riff that is equally chilling and rich. It’s a perfect setup for the sparse percussion and keys that, along with some fantastic echoing production on the backing track vocals, do a great job of slowly building to one of the most wonderfully constructed choruses of the year. The chorus is at once deliberate and strong, but it never becomes plodding thanks to a combination of some epic keys and Ga In’s ability to puncture through the music with a fierceness that borders on violent. The interplay of lightness and heaviness is well-balanced throughout “Paradise Lost” as raspy snare bits play off of distorted strings and bass. To top it all off, the organ brings a grandiosity to the single that cannot be denied. By the time that the organ closes the song, one is left breathless by the four-minute opera that they’ve just experienced.

Slain.

Slain.

As great as the production is, it wouldn’t be quite as successful without Ga In’s brilliant presence on the track. While her range isn’t remarkable, Ga In’s ability to emote and flip between a whisper and a strong bellow at a moment’s notice are her greatest assets in “Paradise Lost.” The way that she plays with the verses is akin to the way a cat plays with a mouse. The aforementioned choruses are thoroughly owned through a mixture of deliberateness and confidence. “Paradise Lost” has to have a vocalist who could match its theatricality and not get lost in the swirl of organs, strings, and somber percussion and Ga In doesn’t just meet that challenge, she bowls over it.

As great as the song is, the video is even better. While the music video itself largely features Ga In performing choreography, dismissing it as a dance-in-a-box video would be a disservice to it. “Paradise Lost” utilizes blue lighting but it never devolves into Bourne Identity staleness thanks to some black and white shots, a choreo set that is draped in a brilliant gold and the greenest snake that I’ve ever seen. Also, unlike a lot of dance-in-a-box videos, “Paradise Lost” mostly focuses on the choreography, something which is not only appreciated for coherency’s sake but something that is also very thematically appropriate. Between the snake, the song’s title and the album’s title, it’s not much a stretch to say that temptation is a pretty big theme of “Paradise Lost.” Through Ga In’s screen presence and some smart direction, “Paradise Lost” visually nails that theme.

LOOK AT THAT SHOT. THAT SHIT IS GLORIOUS.

LOOK AT THAT SHOT. THAT SHIT IS GLORIOUS.

While Ga In’s choreography and dress are undoubtedly sexual, what comes through most strongly is Ga In’s sheer physicality.  The precision and strength in the Ga In’s moves is breathtaking and when she slithers about it’s clear that while one can enjoy the beauty of what Ga In can do with her body, none of it is meant to be owned or obtainable by the viewer. Quite clearly, Ga In is dancing for herself (it’s no coincidence that mirrors are featured quite prominently in the video and that the only time that men are featured, they are nothing but naked mounds of flesh that Ga In doesn’t so much as deign with a glance).

Go home everyone. K-Pop has been conquered.

Go home everyone. K-Pop has been conquered.

It is rare to find a music video that is so well-thought out but the fact that Ga In managed to make such a provocative and smart video isn’t surprising given her track record.

Dancing like no one's watching.

Dancing like no one’s watching.

“Paradise Lost” works just fine as a song but it is really taken to a whole other level thanks to the video. Unlike so many K-Pop concepts that feel tacked on or seemingly thrown together to capitalize on some trend (see every god damn butt dance out there right now), all of the components of “Paradise Lost” make sense. The operatic choice of instrumentals lends an epicness to a video that pulls no punches in design, composition or choreography. Ga In throws herself into the project with a determination that one can hear in her voice and see in her moves. Taken together, “Paradise Lost” is the best music video I’ve seen in a long time and it’s not even particularly close.

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12 comments

  1. I agree wholeheartedly that Ga In’s new single is fantastic. I love the fact that she is not afraid to tackle deep/controversial topics in her songs too. She always amazes with every comeback and not only is she a talented singer,dancer, but she’s an artist too. Great review!

    1. Thanks! Unlike a lot of K-Pop releases, the concept is what I usually anticipate most with a Ga In release.

  2. I can’t always get behind her music but Ga-In (and BEG) makes some of the most genuinely creative and memorable MVs. I’m just afraid it will be lost on most looking for bubblegum pop.
    Also, great call on the spate of butt dances, although I do spot copious amounts of butt/hips swaying here too 🙂

  3. Victor Delacroix · · Reply

    Even though I believe that lyrical content comes second when it’s time to evaluate the quality of a song, I’m REALLY into what Ga-in is doing here with it. I listen to a lot of different genres, so pop is a bit difficult for me to handle when every damn song is very overtly about love or dating or breakups. There’s a whole lot more to life than that, so when K-pop FINALLY takes on different themes or spins the old ones in new ways, those usually end up being my favorite songs. Beyond the words being interesting for a change, such songs are usually accompanied very naturally by incredible visual concepts and musical ideas.

    Remember Song Ji Eun’s “Going Crazy”? That got me going in the same way. The concept, as far as pop goes, was GOTH AS SHIT, and the video featured what is still some of my favorite K-pop imagery ever. Very few K-pop artists have managed to recapture the greatness of that song (though f(x) pretty consistently averts K-pop’s usual conventions), but Ga-in does it every single time. Were I to select nine artists to make up the Muses of the new millennium, Ga-in would probably make the list.

  4. You seem to rise to the competition, to murder a sports metaphor. This review says pretty much everything I was thinking when I watched the MV for the first time, but you did it with much eloquence than I ever could have. Bonus points for using the word “physicality”. It sums her performance up with just one word. Nice work!

    1. Thanks, I guess it’s apparent when I get really into a release haha.

  5. In the S. Korean music industry, where everything is manufactured & planned by big teams working for big companies & the standard fare is to turn out yet another dance-in-a-box video or butt dance video (i.e., no risks, we know what sells), it really makes me wonder how some artists are able to *seemingly* have such control over the process that they can turn out a really unique _product_?

    I just wonder how much stroke an invdividual artist must have before they can get their company to run with an edgy concept/song?

    I also wonder whether I am being a little naive in that thought & that I (& we here) credit the artist with too much control & responibility for the content/concept. I mean, given the workings of the S. Korean industry is it not *probable* that there is an entire team (or teamS) that is/are really responsible for the concept, song, & M/V… not just one person & certainly not just the artist.

    No dis-respect to Ga In.

    thoughts?

    1. Oh, absolutely. Hwang Soo Ah is the director for the ‘Paradise Lost’ MV. She’s also the director for arguably the best BEG/K-Pop MV eveeeeer, ‘Abracadabra’.
      (Wikipedia: Hwang Su-a, who had studied Film at New York University and established a career as a music video and commercial director).

      1. Yeah, the direction in “Paradise Lost” is so good.

    2. Every pop release (hell, every production in entertainment) is done with a whole team so when I say Ga In it is a bit of a shorthand for the whole creative process which makes the final piece.

      I will say that I think that the fact that it’s Ga In’s solo work probably means that she has more input than she would in a group release though.

      1. I didn’t mean to imply that you or anyone really thought Ga In was soley responsible, Slug. Have just wondered how much input artists can _really_ have in their system. We all routinely attribute a hit or cool video to the performing artist. Lizzy’s PMS was great… her idea? Lyrics? any input at all? don’t know.. would be interesting to find out.

        Tiffany is credited with some creative input w/regard to TTS Holler (fashion mostly) but I wonder how much is real, how much is hype. Seo *wrote* the lyrics to Only You, but they were to music already picked, & then she had “help” finalizing them.

        Love BEG’s videos (esp Abracadabra), but have wondered… how any artist or group can have any/much real creative input under their system.

        Consider how in the US authors of songs being considered for release on a *big* artists next release are routinely pressured to give partial song-writing credit to the artist to ensure the track is used. No credit for Ms. Spears, the track doesn’t make the release. All in an attempt to imbue the artist with more credibility for the creative process than they really deserve.

      2. Oh yeah for sure. But that’s pop music for you. There are shades to the whole process, but it is largely a collaborative effort where only a few people get recognition.

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