TUNE OF THE WEEK: Slow Dancing
(BIGHIT MUSIC, 2023)
V from BTS dropped his debut solo EP on Friday. It was accompanied by the single Slow Dancing, a chilled RnB track written in a mix of Korean and English; pretty cool but not ground-breaking for arguably one of the biggest pop stars on the planet.
I raised this with my friend who quickly shuts down any notion that this is playing it safe.
Sakurako, who is is Japanese and lives in Tokyo, points out that k-pop is now known for outrageously produced entertainment. And V, coming from BTS – the household name synonymous with the genre – has rejected this expectation.
“But actually it’s meticulously produced in a way to appeal to the female gaze… K-pop sex appeal may be weird for a Western audience because it’s just not like Justin Bieber or Bad Bunny. Not the in-your-face hotness, confidence, aggressiveness.” Rather, she explains, it’s about innocence.
The video was produced by Min Hee-jin, the creative director for New Jeans and formerly brand director of SM entertainment – one of the biggest entertainment agencies in South Korea. She’s the mastermind behind the slick visuals of modern k-pop that have made it the global phenomenon it is today.
Rewatching the music video for Slow Dancing, I realise there are no viral dances, no big “moments” visually. It’s just V and his friends enjoying themselves at the beach. Similarly the music, sure it’s catchy, but more about creating a lounge ambiance, taking a leisurely pace with a detour into jazz flute interlude. This plays in contrast to the tightly-choreographed hyper-pop of his contemporaries.
Are we witnessing a new era of k-pop? Only time will tell.