It is especially rare to see real-life issues barrel their way into K-Pop, a genre that is equally driven by pop music, idol-manufactured personalities and elastic group concepts. However, the situation that Ladies’ Code found itself in leading up to their “Galaxy” comeback is anything but normal. With the deaths of EunB and RiSe looming over “Galaxy” (Ladies’ Code’s first comeback since the passing of the two members back in 2014), Ladies’Code has done an incredible of creating a music video that acknowledges the very real losses that the group has suffered while simultaneously proving that they can definitely succeed as a trio.
From its very first reverberating moments, “Galaxy” is a serious affair. While the production can’t be described as sparse or minimalist, the patient beat has a strong but spacey jazz sound thanks to a prominent bass line and very light snare riffs and chimes. The richness of the track is complemented by Ladies’ Code’s vocals, which comfortably take up the middle register of “Galaxy.” In a shrewd move, at various times the members’ voices are given a subtle but distinct hollowness which does wonders to create an emptiness that works at a conceptual level to evoke the grand emptiness of outerspace and a somberness that works at a metatextual level to signify loss without getting bogged down in histrionics. In a vacuum, “Galaxy” is incredibly effective mood music (even if it lacks a memorable punch) but this is a comeback that is almost impossible to view without context. With that in mind, “Galaxy” is about a perfect note as the group could hit given the circumstances. The balance between the song’s more soulful production and Ladies’ Code’s own remove evokes a sense of depth and sadness that never comes across as forced and that is “Galaxy’s” biggest triumph.
Similarly, the video for “Galaxy” does a fantastic job in its thoughtful restraint. The MV is more or less a standard dance-in-a-box number but that works with the understandably low-key approach with which “Galaxy” handles itself. This understatedness works even though the set pieces in “Galaxy” don’t necessarily cohere. While it’s not particularly clear how the angular, futuristic white set pieces relate to the more antiquated, colorful sets, “Galaxy” does an amazing job of utilizing triangular shapes to tie the video (and allude to Ladies’ Code’s new trio status) together in a visually compelling way. The MV even finds a way to make an overt reference to the group’s past by including two backup dancers in select choreography shots; a wonderful tribute to EunB and RiSe that doesn’t threaten to hi-jack “Galaxy” at all.
In terms of setting the right tone under the circumstances, Ladies’ Code couldn’t have done much better than they did with “Galaxy.” The comeback was always going to be a difficult one but the poise, control and thought that went into “Galaxy” demonstrates that Ladies’ Code was definitely up to the heart-wrenching challenge of acknowledging the group’s tragic past without allowing their comeback to be defined by it.