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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kim Jaejoong's Forest Of Hirst And Teeth

Forgive the horrible pun. It's just that with all the wide-eyed-lost-in-the-woods nonsense going on in his video, I couldn't help being reminded of The Forest Of Hands And Teeth - which, incidentally, I didn't really like.

But back to subject.

I guess it'd be an understatement to say I've been having a wonderful time with the Kim Jaejoong solo stravaganza - after all I have been spamming Facebook ever since the first teaser photos came out. It got to the point where my sister's opinion of the video for Mine ended up triggering a discussion among the writing crew about the proper way to address a vampire/angel hybrid. (Screw democracy, I still think Ampire is the best option.)

Anyway. We all know I can get verbose in the face of beautiful things that somehow resonate with me - in fact, it's happening right now -, so I have decided to articulate my scattered thoughts into one cohesive post. The short version: I think this is what fantasies look like to asexuals with more fetishes than common sense. You know. Like myself.

And before you say anything, snakes are nature's nod to bondage. It counts as a fetish.

Let's discuss, then.

No conclusive word on this as of yet. This being Damien Hirst's diamond skull, aka For The Love of God, aka a £50 million prop, and conclusive word being who made this replica and why hasn't anyone been sued yet. Yup. I was fooled at first because I didn't really know what we were talking about, but after some research it took me about ten seconds and a quick look at 1) the pattern created by the crystals, 2) the teeth, and 3) the underside of the skull, to realise that, as fun as it may be to imagine Jae going completely off the rails with his newfound wealth after one too many cocktails and literal catfights, this thing is probably worth five bucks and a split-second cameo in a music video – which is exactly what it got.

Not that the original should be worth much more, mind you, but I'll come back to Damien Hirst (and what I truly think of his use of human teeth and butterfly wings and dead sharks in formaldehyde) some other time.

Next subject: tattoos.

Can I just... I pretty much fell off the planet when I saw this. I guess you can take the guy out of TVXQ (or in this case, let the guy out of TVXQ) but you can't take TVXQ out of the guy, and you most certainly can't stop the guy from using the name whenever the hell he feels like it. Not sure how I feel about that – I mean, there are so many ways to perceive this. It could be a monumental slap in the face of SM (and maybe, but hopefully not, the current TVXQ). It could be a heartfelt moment of nostalgia, a don't-forget-your-roots kind of thing. Or it could be a simple consequence of stripping and having the name of your former group etched on your back.

Considering the person, all three options seem equally plausible.

And I gif'ed these two bits because as goofy as they may look, I love them. I really do. Because the video is all serious business, running against murders of crows, jumping five feet into the air via fancy wirework, looking attractive as all living hell with a snake slipping into one's shirt... and then there's this. The my-sanity-is-slipping-me look (particularly fitting when you consider the line that goes with it, I'm afraid that even this place might be contamined), and that little hint of a smile slipping out of focus. They're nice details to include, even if they only last... 19 frames each.

Do I like the fangs? Nope. I've never been much of a fan of vampires. But I do like the package that comes with the fangs, aka the green-blue-grey hair and the Final Fantasy outfit. There's a very jrock feel to both this video and this song, and they help cement it.

And if you don't think he looks like an asian blue-eyed version of Anakin Skywalker about to go into you underestimate my power mode, you're wrong and you should feel bad.

But there's one more thing.

It's taken me two days to realise this, but... k-people going solo never actually release videos in which they are the only human around, do they? Hmm. I see why, since it could get boring pretty easily. You can't build much of a story with just one actor, and I bet it's equally hard to get the big epic choreography video working with just one dancer, as well. But Jae (and his team, of course, who should probably take most of the credit) has achieved something kind of in between here, and I appreciate that. It's different. He probably knows he's not the kind of person who can move front and center in a choreography and stay there for three minutes, and he probably knows his face (okay, fine... and body, and persona, and ridiculously huge fanbase) is enough to sell a video on its own. So we got Mine, which I found extremely interesting (all the symbology!), and also extremely fitting.

Maybe too fitting, at times. Because this feels so... Jaejoong-ish, that it also feels inherently familiar. There are points where I think it actually over relies on the things we all know Jaejoong is good at - things like stripping, shouting, and wearing fur coats. Case in point:

Left is everyone's favorite photobook, Intermodulation, from 2010. Right is this video. It's so similar that I'm seriously entertaining the possibility that it might be a shout-out. Maybe he's been planning this album + concept for two years now. What do I know.

But with only two of the original five members of TVXQ attempting solo albums, the comparisons are unavoidable - and this video didn't blow me away the way Junsu's Tarantallegra did. But then again Junsu took a right when everyone expected him to take a left, and proved that no matter what package you put him in, he can own it because he's just that good. He's got the looks, the voice, the moves, the stage presence - so he took a huge risk, and came out on top. Jae, on the other hand... I don't think he's taken much of a risk with this video. But I'd rather let him stay in his comfort zone (which is a pretty good zone, in its own right) than have him portray something that has nothing to do with him. Which is why I've made up my mind on this video - it's "unique" enough to match the standard we're used to for idols going solo, but not so full of itself as to make me step back and wonder who the hell is this guy and what has he done to the Twitter-happy cat lover we all know and keep guarded opinions of.

I confess I was expecting something a little more polished, a little more delicate, judging by the teaser photos... but I think I actually prefer it this way. For all the aforementioned reasons, and then some that I should probably only mention to the people who are aware of my thing for buckles and straitjackets.

Oh, right, and his voice sounds great, too.

PS - That was... not an afterthought. He really does sound great.

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