The music videos of the songs from ENHYPEN’s first album BORDER : DAY ONE and their new album BORDER : CARNIVAL often tinge their backgrounds with a blue or red glow. In the title track of the debut album “Given-Taken,” ENHYPEN members were in a bluish space. Meanwhile, the pairing track “Let Me In (20 CUBE)” showed members once inside a forest permeated with reddish light step into their own space in a different world while wearing a blue outfit. And then in the music video for the new album’s title track “Drunk-Dazed,” the red imagery expands dramatically. Both the lighting of the party that ENHYPEN members enter and the liquid SUNWOO pours into the fountain are red. Here, behind the fountain hangs a blue curtain, and the music video shows SUNOO in crimson liquid and SUNGHOON dancing in a place where red liquid falls like rain. The “Given-Taken” music video starts out with JUNGWON standing against the blue-sky background with his nose bleeding, and the “Drunk-Dazed” music video increasingly gets flooded in reddish hue as it progresses to the latter part of the song. This recalls the image of blue underwater connected to the red sun rising above the horizon in the music video for “Intro : Walk the Line,” the first track of BORDER : DAY ONE. The story of the members that begins with a blue light crosses into a world of red light beyond the border.
The lyrics “my white fangs” in “Given-Taken” changes to “this sweet scent, fangs glowing red” in “Drunk-Dazed.” While the fangs change in color, ENHYPEN’s identity in the music video also undergoes a transformation. In the first scene of “Drunk-Dazed,” HEESEUNG, JAKE and JUNGWON standing at the bus stop wearing their school uniform look like regular students. But after stepping into a party, JAKE lights up a cake with his hand without a lighter, and JUNGWON and NI-KI show their powers, freely crisscrossing the space. The “Drunk-Dazed” music video mixes various fragments of staging, such as students dressed in uniform, fantastical beings reminiscent of zombies or vampires or the Shakespearean character Hamlet they’ve adopted since BORDER : DAY ONE. And after greeting each other at the party with their school uniform on, they soon get intoxicated after drinking from glasses containing red fluid. While the red hue sweeps over the music video’s imagery, once ordinary students dance at the carnival and reveal their alternate identities. The color contrast in “Drunk-Dazed” thus leads to an identity shift, and that shift transports reality onto a world of fantasy.
This is a rite of passage. From a real-world perspective, students attending a graduation ceremony are neither enrolled students nor graduates for that moment at least. In a fantasy world, this is a moment when teens, through a certain occasion, break from an established order and unleash their rebellious energy. An imperfect state that cannot be defined consequently equals a rite of passage and a ritual to advance into the next world. “Drunk-Dazed” defines it as a carnival – where temptation and pleasure lie and an ominous air looms at the same time. And yet ironically what ENHYPEN narrates in the middle of the carnival is: “I wake myself up, burn my heart, fill my dreams.” This aligns with the inclusion in the music video of a scene where members dressed in a prince-like wardrobe in a blue filter, look up at a woman above the flame at a party lit in red lighting. And despite having supernatural powers and in the midst of a carnival, they still dream of ascending to a higher place.
In the “Drunk-Dazed” music video, creatures with the shadow of werewolves appear. Seeing how the music video unfolds, they’re highly likely to be K and EJ(Byun Eui-joo) once cast in the audition program I-LAND with ENHYPEN members. While appearing in I-LAND, the two had competed with ENHYPEN members for the debut. Through the process, ENHYPEN, who were either ordinary students or trainees, became special beings just like themselves in the music video, and the contestants back then are still watching them now. From such a standpoint, BORDER : DAY ONE and BORDER : CARNIVAL seem to have unpacked ENHYPEN’s autobiographical tale in the form of a fictitious world. How ENHYPEN turns from trainees into artists whose debut has been confirmed in I-LAND overlaps with the moment of border crossing in their music video; and the process of ordinary students morphing into supernatural beings reminds of trainees transforming into artists who are promised a glamorous debut. It’s not overstating to say that how they keep nurturing their dream in a carnival where everyone’s indulging in pleasure is not a metaphor but a straightforward depiction of the lives of idols.
K-Pop content weaves fantasies through artists. The origin of the K-Pop industry is rooted in enticing fans to get absorbed deeper through images and imaginary world views presented by artists to fans. ENHYPEN’s album BORDER series also could be called a fantasy expressing their reality as K-Pop artists through various metaphors. But ENHYPEN aired their daily routines and contests to people around the world on I-LAND, just like the main character Truman in the movie Truman Show. The BORDER series presents through a fantasy, the actual rite of passage they subsequently experienced, or are still going through in real life. The narrative from “Given-Taken,” “between giving and taking, it’s time for my proving” takes a cue from the famous line in Shakespeare’s comedy Hamlet ‘To be, or not to be, that is the question” to ask if their debut is something given or taken. Although “Let Me In(20 CUBE)” brings to mind a vampire movie titled the same, the lyric “let me be there” also reminds of the situation where the only way a new artist group gets to stand on stage is through an invitation from someone, like a vampire. And ENHYPEN members who received invites in the BORDER : CARNIVAL, sing in “Mixed Up” about the complex emotions of idols exposed to the public’s eye in an age of social media, and in “Not For Sale” talk about the pricelessness of the only source of strength, “you,” i.e. someone that could be interpreted as fans, in a commercial world grimly portrayed as “the world that will be ruined like this.” In short, it’s like BORDER : DAY ONE and BORDER : CARNIVAL has taken up the baton to relay what ENHYPEN encounters after escaping from I-LAND – as if Truman’s life goes on even after the Truman Show stops.
In an age of social media, K-Pop idols often straddle the border between reality and fantasy. Unlike the movie roles, idols want love from fans as their authentic selves on YouTube, in V LIVE and in social media photos. It’s tough to clearly define whether they are reality or realistic fantasy. Perhaps it would be something in between. At any rate, ENHYPEN in “Drunk-Dazed” adopts rigid motions as if to conjure an image of near-death creatures like vampires, and at the same time shows full-force energy while jumping on stage. As seen from images circulating online, ENHYPEN members synchronize the exact height of their powerful jump in the refrain part for their performance in “Drunk-Dazed.” And then they sing “I wake myself up, burn my heart, fill my dreams.” Also, before and after the hours of singing and dancing, they continuously meet with fans by any means possible. Idols, who offer fantasies, end up showing their real life through fantasies. The boundary between reality and fantasy becomes blurred, making it hard to tell where reality starts and fantasy ends. But through such a process, the idols’ dream, gazing at a higher spot is proven through hard work. A ritual is performed to convey the reality of artists in the center of the K-Pop industry that churns out fantasies. And yet there is another fantasy that proves just how idols exert their best effort to create such a ritual. At the heart of K-Pop where the line between reality and fantasy blurs, K-Pop – constantly asked to prove its authenticity – has turned the artists’ sincerity itself into a fantasy. This is the alternative fantasy of K-Pop.
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