ETA: Since apparently you assholes are angrier that I neglected to realize this is supposed to be the most poorly-executed vampire concept since Twilight than you are over anything else in this MV, I’ma get this shit over with: I don’t care. A theoretical vampire concept does not negate the criticism of this MV any more than Twilight being a vampire series does not negate the criticism of Edward and Bella’s relationship. Edward doesn’t stalk Bella because he’s a vampire, he stalks her because he’s a creep. I mean, I could’ve made the same boring Twilight jokes people have been making since 2005, but I went with 50 Shades of Grey as it is less old meme and, being a Twilight fanfic, has preserved the most problematic aspects of the Edward/Bella romance, which is the whole issue with this MV and song to start with. Oh, and by the way–none of those elements have anything to do with vampirism. I would think that the ability of an all-human AU like 50SoG to preserve those elements would make that clear, but that’s clearly too much critical thinking to expect out of stans. So you can keep making excuses or you can shut the fuck up, but if you’re going to do the former, do it somewhere other than my blog.
So now that that bullshit is out of the way, let’s talk about why this MV is getting backlash from iFans. The romanticizing of violence against women is a disturbing trend in K-pop music videos, and it’s in stark relief here. I’m kind of pissed U-KISS delivered this shit after being gone over a year, because kissmes, all 3 or so of us, have been starved for material to mock/bop/fap to, as there isn’t much else out there for us now that the few boy groups still doing this sort of sound and aesthetic are either done and dusted or making shitty ass music like the rest of these neon clown puke assholes. So now I gotta make with the cognitive dissonance and acknowledge that “Stalker” is a ~*problematic fave*~, because as long as you overlook the lyrics and concept, it’s a bop. Musically and aesthetically, U-KISS are back and in fine form.
The song opens with a bass-driven beat reminiscent of some of Justin Timberlake’s solo stuff. The image of a girl sleeping while the guys whisper “stalker” rhythmically over the music gets us off to a sufficiently Edward Cullen-tastic start. The MV seems to be going for that Eurotrash grunge aesthetic, featuring a dark, shadowy set because this is a Dark Concept. It’s a bit similar to the “Standing Still” MV though the styling is less slick, forgoing the black leather for distressed jeans and plain black tops. There’s this bizarre shirt-sniffing dance move, complete with sniffing sound effect, and I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be sexy or creepy but I just found it gross. Like y’all motherfuckers must’ve collected enough yen in Japan to do your laundry.
Like in “Standing Still,” the first verse kicks off with Soohyun peeking out over the shoulders of his bandmates.
He snarls his way through his lines while the rest of the guys offer up some VIXX in “Chained Up”-esque choreo. Hoon creepily watches LaBoum’s Solbin sleeping.
The verse picks up and we finally see Solbin awake and painting her nails, because K-pop MVs seem to have a real fetish for nail painting. I can think of at least two other girl group videos with nail painting scenes, Nine Muses’ “Wild” and Girl’s Day’s “Something.” I’m not a straight dude, so I have no idea if you guys get off on it, but as a woman, I can tell you I mostly only associate nail painting with the struggle to stay inside the lines coupled with a mild buzz caught off nail polish fumes. Maybe it’s like how smoking is only sexy in the movies or on TV, because you don’t have to actually smell the smoke and have it infiltrate your clothes and hair so thoroughly even shampooing and laundry can’t get that shit out.
The guys get their slut pop on and drop it like it’s hot for us. This is why I love U-KISS.
We move into a pre-chorus sung by Kiseop, which builds up the tension and ups the intensity of the melody. Kiseop seems to be the N of this group in the sense of serving up flawless visuals while singing mostly transition and bridge parts, showcasing his unique vocal tone to maximum effect. We see Eli spying on Solbin while she’s changing and then we’re treated to this weird shot of Kevin standing behind her, watching her in the mirror while she ignores him. Maybe Kevin is the bodyguard Kiseop hired for Solbin, once Kiseop plied her with wine and conned her into signing his dodgy BDSM slave contract, then further bribed her with a new designer dress.
We launch into a soaring chorus bringing some of that throwback K-pop sound from a few years back, before yolosweg infected K-pop with zika. After the chorus, the backing track abruptly drops out and we’re back to the stripped-down beat that started the song. It’s a jarring transition, but not so much that “Stalker” joins the ranks of those K-pop songs that sound like 3 songs jammed into one. There are no abrupt beat or instrumental changes to give you aural whiplash, and it all remains fairly cohesive. Which is good, because as we kick off verse 2 you can instead focus on the hip thrusting:
Then Kiseop feels himself up, tries to channel VIXX in red contacts, gets some lip rub action, and to my surprise, even gets a brief vocal run! These guys know what fangirls want—well, except for the whole, you know, romanticizing stalking part.
Kevin sings the pre-chorus while crouched on a wall like the least menacing metrosexual gargoyle ever.
WAIT NOW HOLD THE FUCK UP, IS THE FETUS PLAYING WITH CHAINS???
The fuck, NHM???
Fortunately Jun just sticks to standard boy band crooning rather than some BDSM shit, and then we switch to Soohyun making walking in front of a brick wall in a sheer sweater the most arousing juxtaposition of those elements ever created. He swaggers up to Kiseop, who is sitting on a wooden box and scowling. I’m wondering if this MV is about to take a homoerotic turn. I mean, there’s fuckin’ chains in this set, too! Is Soohyun like, Kiseop’s kink mentor?
Unfortunately, before we can get any Soohyun/Kiseop/chains action the chorus starts up again and Soohyun is back to walking. The bridge is mostly Hoon until we hit the requisite but no less glorious Soohyun money note which would be so much easier to fap to if it weren’t ensconced within such a fucked up concept. Solbin runs, terrified, into Kiseop’s arms. What we don’t see: Kiseop’s friend who has a bike nearly running her down so Kiseop can save her.
Kiseop goes full Chedward by creepily sniffing Solbin’s neck before gazing ominously into the camera with his red contacts.
(I can’t take credit for “Chedward;” it’s from Jenny Trout’s delightful Fifty Shades of Grey recaps. Said recaps are much more entertaining than the actual books.)
This MV definitely leaves me feeling disturbed and unsettled, and if that was the point, they did a bang-up job of it. I can’t speak Korean so I can’t really analyze the lyrics, but in this case I think the imagery and the song title tells me enough. Like the Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer, this MV almost comes off like the beginning of a sexy psychological thriller, until it suddenly dawns on us that this bullshit is supposed to be a “love story.” If U-KISS released a follow-up single with a video continuing the storyline in the sexy thriller way (ideally, Solbin Buffies out and saves herself), it could be redeemed. But I’m not holding my breath.
As for the song, U-KISS tend to be hit-or-miss with Korean comebacks, but this was definitely a hit. It brings U-KISS’s signature Eurotrash glory while still sounding fresh and current. It reminds me a bit of a cleaner, more cohesive answer to EXID’s L.I.E. U-KISS also did an excellent job of bringing the slut to slut pop, and I commend them for it. It’s a shame that this song is about stalking, which is the opposite of sexy. Otherwise I’d be up on this comeback like tight jeans on Kiseop’s ass.
Watch “Stalker” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pN7REpLn3I