Yes, I know it’s been a while. But in real life, I am a pretentious academic, and pretentious academics have shit to do. Well, lucky for you, I’m on a break, which means I have time to post an academic analysis of VIXX’s latest opus, Shangri-La.
Despite Ahjummas Anonymous’s unwavering devotion, even when tearing a shit ass fucking bullshit song a well-deserved new asshole, I must confess VIXX have been somewhat uneven ever since they reached their pinnacle with Error a.k.a the fucking greatest shit ever. I mean, I get that they themselves have established a standard that’s damn near impossible to live up to, but considering it’s their standard I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility. But I’ve also accepted that once a group establishes that core fanbase, companies know they could release worm-infested tripe and fans would gobble it up despite the intense gastrointestinal distress that ensues. These groups need only to phone it in every year or so to rejuvenate the masses. Individual activities are the real moneymakers, so it makes sense from a business perspective. From a fannish one, however, it’s fucking shitty for fans who still possess any critical faculties, which is probably why we spend all our time bitching about our faves’ substandard-ass new shit while still buying the albums because they photo books are like, really
And one element in which VIXX never disappoint, no matter how shit the actual song is, is fappability. Like you can always mute That Song That Shall Not Be Named and fap to them hip rolls. N’s hips are legit hypnotic. Of course, I’m not implying Shangri-La is a shit song. It’s not. But if your first listen occurs while watching the MV, well, the visuals overshadow the song in a big way. In fact, the visuals are so stunning that you almost forget there’s a song, which is really not the reaction you want to have. Ideally, the visuals should complement the song and vice versa, creating a symbiosis of audio/visual slayage plus high fappability coefficient as is perfectly epitomized in Error, Voodoo Doll, and pretty much every high-concept MV since Jellyfish actually obtained a budget. This isn’t to say VIXX’s former MVs didn’t have a tacky, low-budget charm–On and On was the comeback that made me the messy ass ahjumma stan I am today–but you get me. Shangri-La isn’t quite there, but at least the song is good enough that I’ll actually voluntarily listen to it while enjoying the sublime visuals and choreo.
Shangri-La embraces a slightly different, but equally high-concept aesthetic to VIXX’s usual horror/scifi fare. The main concept seems built around traditional Chinese aesthetics and instrumentation (EDIT: the concept is based around poet Tao Yuan Ming‘s Peach Blossom Spring Poems), but the song also leans heavily into the R&B sound that characterizes more recent releases like The Closer (which I didn’t review but found quite pleasing). Fortunately for VIXX, both songs make enough unexpected musical decisions to elevate them above the kind of generic nugu R&B shlock that struts and frets its hour on the stage and is seen or heard of no more until it goes on Broduce 98. VIXX’s unique vocal color is used effectively here, which part of the reason they’re among my favorite groups. Kpopalypse oppa described a phenomenon known as “vocal soup” which is probably why I tend to go for groups with a less soup-able vocals despite rather abysmal ratings from the folks at Kpop Vocal Analysis. For me personally, uniqueness goes a lot farther than fucking boring vocal run circle-jerk fuckshit, and the only concern I have for poor vocal technique is that the guys will blow out their voices and become Bom 2.0. (Speaking of, Jellpi needs to calm the fuck down on the unnecessary plastic surgery. Trust me, guys, the biz doesn’t need y’all to keep it alive. They already got SM).
Choreographically speaking (is that even a word? eh, it is now), VIXX knock it out of the park as per usual. Even when the song sucks nutsacks, their choreo still knows how to show off VIXX’s assets. And yes, that was indeed a pun. Here, we see shades of U-KISS’s Neverland with the whole dancing in a puddle of water donning white suits thing, but this is like, artistic puddle dancing. And they have fans. Fan dancing hasn’t been this sexy since Heechul in SuJu’s “U” and then Jun in Seventeen’s cover. In particular N’s contemporary dance background gets a chance to shine, which is good, because N’s contemporary dance is like an audio/visual orgasm.
Shangri-La is a solid offering with stunning enough visuals and choreo to distract shallow horny ahjummas like myself from a song that’s merely capable. Perhaps my standards have been too lowered, or perhaps I’m jaded after seeing how bad it can get, or perhaps I’m just an easy sell, but Shangri-La appeases me, and appeasing me is pretty much as good as it gets with VIXX these days.