Ailee first broke into the K-pop scene with “Heaven,” a power ballad that showed off her pipes. “Heaven” was a great song. “I Will Show You” … not so much.
I am not sure what the songwriters and composers were going for here, but I suspect someone was watching Dreamgirls a lot. I’ve heard comparisons to “I Will Survive” and I can hear it, not so much with the melody, but with the whole ‘70s disco sound. The song starts off as a piano-driven ballad, before exploding at the chorus into beat-driven dance pop.
It really doesn’t work. The sound is too retro for my tastes, and the song is not particularly catchy, either. T-ara’s “Roly Poly” pulled off the ‘70s retro sound a lot better, because it wasn’t pure disco—it had enough disco influence to evoke the era but still sounded fresh and modern. And like many T-ara songs, it was an earworm. I honestly forgot this song as soon as it ended.
Ailee’s vocals were on point, however. It’s a shame they were wasted on this single.
As for the MV, it was… weird. The best way I can think to describe it was as if Dreamgirls and Taylor Swift threw up all over it. It recycled teen movie tropes as shamelessly as the latter’s “You Belong With Me” but without the camp and self-awareness. YBWM established pretty early on that you weren’t supposed to take it seriously (particularly since Taylor herself donned a brown wig to play her own romantic rival). But I could never really tell what this MV was trying to do. The theatrical overacting and absurdity of the “storyline” suggests camp but at the same time, the tropes are played pretty straight. So basically it’s Glee.
We begin with Ailee cosplaying IU as she walks down a long ill-lit hallway. She passes a couple, the male half of whom gazes upon her in disgust. B/c she’s so ugly you guys, omg. I can’t even deal with her hideous face right now.
She passes by MBLAQ’s G.O, who plays the male lead. This is CW-perfect casting, right down to acting performance and looking like a 27-year-old playing a teen. G.O’s leaning against the wall all Jordan Catalano-like with his boo:
He gives Ailee this look that I guess is supposed to be all cool and shit but kind of looks like he’s trying to identify something she has stuck to her teeth.
Having concluded that her teeth are just too nasty to contemplate, he rudely brushes past her after his boo.
Ailee/IU passes through some double doors and walks down a deserted hall, where holographic images of her and G.O being all couple-y fade in and out, supposedly representing her fantasies. I never understood teenage girls having massive girl boners for guys who are complete douchebags to them. I get crushing on someone you don’t know who understandably has no reason to talk to you, but being straight-up rude? Yeah, that would kill a girl boner faster than Benedict Cumberbatch’s face.
So now we’re at the chorus and it’s disco time! Ailee and her backup dancers whip open their coats to reveal sparkly dresses that don’t look like they came from the Sears prom section circa 1998 at all. Suddenly we see Ailee model-walking into the hall in a dress that looks like it came from Emma Stone’s wardrobe in Easy A. The girls all stare in shock and the boys cluster around her holding love notes and panting like puppy dogs. It sort of reminds me of that scene in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” when Xander has a witch perform a love spell and all the girls in school fall in love with him.
Ailee walks past G.O while he’s taking a swig of Gatorade or some other cool-guy beverage from a Dixie pee sample cup. He sees her and chokes on his drink in awe. Or else he’s having a minor stroke. It’s kind of hard to tell.
We’re treated to some shampoo-commercial wind-machine action and a very awkward sequence of Ailee in a minidress scream-singing in G.O’s face. He scrambles after her down a school hallway that is now suddenly a red carpet lined with a velvet rope and paparazzi (yeah, I don’t think even Xander had that and he had wicca on his side!). G.O ducks beneath the crowd (good thing they didn’t hire Kris of Exo-M or Jungshin of CN Blue for this role) and calls after Ailee in a maneuver undoubtedly cribbed from MBLAQ fangirls. He should’ve started crying. That would make it even more authentic.
We get several more sequences of Ailee model-walking down the hall in various Sears prom dresses, surrounded by stylists and yes-men or eager admirers. There is a sequence when G.O gets down on one knee and offers her flowers. She swats him on the mouth (maybe it makes funny noises?) and spits on him. Well, shit. I know hell hath no fury and all but maaaaaybe gurl needs some anger management lessons. Emily Thorne is more restrained than this.
Intercut through this all are some sequences set in a room draped in purple mosquito netting, where Ailee’s singing her heart out with G.O hanging around in a suit, for some inexplicable reason. It’s all very pop star fragrance ad, if said ad were done on a $20 budget. Oh well, at least G.O looks pretty. After the bridge, we get a bizarre and hilarious sequence in which Ailee strolls through the doors with a huge image of her face superimposed in the background. I am not even sure what they were going for here, but I suspect it came from the same basic motivation as youtube users who throw filters on their fanmade music videos because they can.
More of the same till the end, when we get a fabulous display of soap-opera acting. Ailee is striding down the mosquito net hallway when G.O does the whole “grab her arm and dramatically face each other” maneuver which totally isn’t done in pretty much every music video ever. I think it’s supposed to look passionate and intense but in this case, given everything else in the MV, it just looks… well, kind of comical.
The embrace and she smiles into the camera, which is just… weird. I can’t tell if it’s a satisfied smile or an evil smile or what. This whole sequence is just so bizarre to me I don’t even know how to make sense of it.
Aaaaaand that’s a wrap. Ailee’s new fragrance, coming to a department store near you!
So I suppose this MV is attempting to play out the teenage girl fantasy of becoming famous and fabulous and having boys falling at your feet who previously ignored you, but it’s not really working here. The MV is too low-budget to really set an atmosphere, and while I’m assuming it’s meant to be in a high school setting, it looks more like a hospital or something equally cold and sterile. The story falls flat, too, because those well schooled in teen movies will know that the girl rarely ends up with her initial crush, especially if he’s a jerk. In order for this plotline to have any resonance, he has to evolve into a love interest worthy of her, which didn’t really happen in this MV. It just looked like G.O was a shallow jerk who only wanted a pretty girl and when Ailee got all glam he only wanted her because everyone else did. So he’s still a jerk.
An alternate interpretation is that she’s still playing him and is gloating now that the tables have turned, but once again, it’s hard to really tell, because the storyline lacks any real cohesiveness (yes, I know expecting a cohesive storyline out of a K-pop MV is usually an exercise in futility, but it has happened!).
An ultimately disappointing offer from Ailee, I fear.