AOA, or “Ace of Angels” if you break it down, are a 7 member girl group that debuted in 2012 and are under FNC Entertainment, the same company that CNBLUE, SF9 and FT.ISLAND are all under. AOA is currently the company’s only girl group. AOA debuted as an 8 member group, with Youkyung only being involved when the group promoted as a sub-unit (AOA Black). Member Youkyung has left the group, and her agency, since October 2016 but we have been told that she will be involved with any further AOA Black promotions. AOA itself has had 2 sub-units, AOA Black and AOA Cream, with leader Jimin getting a solo debut with EXO”s Xiumin in March 2016. Only three of the girls haven’t been included in any solo or subunit promotions, and we went the entirety of 2016 without seeing a full group AOA comeback. I was happy to hear that we would be getting something so early in 2017, and whilst I enjoy a lot of AOA’s songs, nothing about their sound has piqued my interest, so when I sat down to watch their MV’s, I was coming in with little to no expectation.
I am really liking this trend of double MVs. It gives fans double the hype and excitement. I love when groups do it, especially if they have been away for a long time, like in the case of AOA. I understand that it costs more time and money, for both the company and the group but it’s like a gift to their fans, and I love it!
“Excuse Me” as a song is not what I was expecting from AOA, but at the same time I’m not in any way surprised by it and it has a similar sound to some of their earlier work. The song has got a little retro vibe going on, in both the build up to the chorus and the chorus itself. It sounds as if it could have been released fifteen years ago, and yet still sound fresh. The melody has got hints of the EDM that is so popular with European artists right now, but never seems to veer towards the big build up. With “Excuse Me”, the payoff is right there in the chorus. We don’t need to wait until the final verse and chorus to get the resolution.
The lyrics themselves are also telling a slightly unusual story. Girl groups are almost notorious for playing the “come and get me, boy” card, and by putting themselves out there as prizes to be won, or a goal to be obtained, it’s supposed to seem innocent. Not so much for AOA. AOA knows exactly what they want, and they know how to get it. They clearly spell out that the only reason they are attracted to the boy is that is he is gorgeous, and that he should be with them because they are beautiful too. They ask for his number, and chide him for taking too long. They do try to make it appear like it is actually love at first sight they are feeling, but it’s hard to know if this is sincere or merely a ploy to win the guy over to their way of thinking.
I think my favourite part, both musically and lyrically, is Choa’s bridge. She insists that he gives her his phone number quickly as she knows how it might come off as forward and rude. She still does it and the chorus follows with an almost mantra like beat.
“I know its our first meeting, and it might be rude
But there is something I need to say,
Can I have your number? Hurry!”
I also really like the inclusion of the English “Excuse Me”, as the way they breakup the word for the chorus makes it sound almost like they are saying “kiss me” instead of “cuse me” and I love that detail. You can argue that it’s merely their accent and the way they say it, but I like the double meaning.
I love this video. I love everything about it.The sets, the lighting, the costumes, the aesthetic. It suits this song in a way I didn’t think it would when I first saw it. The video has a soft vintage feel to it. If you have ever seen any Wes Anderson movie, you know exactly what I’m talking about. An undetermined time period in the past that seems to also have modern conveniences. The visual style of this video compliments the tone of the song perfectly, and I cannot imagine one without the other.
If you have watched any Wes Anderson movie, you will know that lighting is critical to obtaining the visual style that is so unmistakably him. This MV has taken this cue as well. The lighting is soft and unfocused a lot of the time, allowing the members to appear almost fairy like in some scenes.
The members all appear to be detectives hunting after one elusive suspect. From stakeouts, to breaking and entering to search his apartment, we are treated to a wide variety of scenes that show each member in beautiful detail, and in fabulous outfits. The styling of this video is definitely one of my favourites this year (I say on January 4th..). The outfits look comfortable and effortless, for the individual scenes anyway! I can imagine the girls wearing each of these outfits of their own volition. The first dance section in the middle is a slightly different beast. I can’t help but think that the outfits remind me of sexy boy scouts, and beige is a hard colour to wear for mostly everybody. I feel like this is possibly the weakest part of this MV. It could be taken from any multitude of girl group MVs, hell, it could be taken from any previous AOA video, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. On the other hand, I absolutely love their pant suits when they change costumes for the dance scenes. It’s so refreshing to see pants in girl group MVs. They look sexy and powerful, and still hella stylish.
When I first heard both “Bing Bing” and “Excuse Me”, I thought for sure that “Bing Bing” was my favourite. I really liked the slower chorus, the more hypnotic beat of both the composition and the lyrics, but after listening to it a dozen or so times for this review, there is a couple of things that I have grown to not necessarily dislike, but certainly irk me, about the song.
The first is Jimin. Jimin is a beautiful girl and the leader of AOA. She is the main rapper, and she has a very unique style of rapping. She raps in quite a high, nasal tone that, whilst I have heard in previous AOA songs, is very prominent in “Bing Bing”. It’s hard for me to like, as it is not the style of rapping that I am accustomed to, be it male or female, idol or not. She definitely has a style all of her own, and it’s worth checking out if you aren’t sure if you’d like it.
The lyrics speak of possibly what happens when the guy from “Excuse Me’ finally gives in and goes out with them. The lyrics hint at the types of “activities” they can get up to . The girls are enticing him forward, closer to them, to hug and “Sweetly kiss me”.
I can’t decide if “Bing Bing” is in reference to something or just a nonsense word thrown in to make the chorus work. Is it referring to a heart beat? is it in reference to the noise of winning a prize? I don’t know, and I dislike unknowns.
Even though this video has ostensibly a cooler concept (stage magic), I like it less overall than the previous one. The girls look wonderful, yet again, but the concept seems a little disconnected from the feeling of the song. I’m not sure how they are linked. The tricks the girls perform are simple and sometimes pointless (Choa and her levitating baton, Chanmi and her rings, and Jimin just fans a deck of cards!). The only member who gets a cool illusion is Seolhyun, as she has to escape from a tank of water while her hands are cuffed together! I wish the others got something even half as a neat as that. I feel like it was a wasted opportunity, and the director just decided to go with “whatever” after filming Seolhyun’s part, either for time or for money constraints.
The video seems to focus heavily on the girls being sexy in various different ways, without actually doing anything sexual. We get to see lots of leg, and the dance focuses on their butts. I feel that this video had a really cool concept in the beginning, but it was slowly eroded away as time and money became involved, and the video really suffers for it. It’s not nearly as interesting or impressive to me as “Excuse Me”. I believe that “Bing Bing” suffers from the “It doesn’t matter, we’re sexy” disease that so many kpop MV’s suffer from.
“Excuse Me’ wins this for me, hands down. There is almost no competition. “Excuse Me” will still be on my playlist months from now, and I anticipate still smiling when it comes on. “Bing Bing” is enough to hold my attention for the time being, but I’ll easily move on, and I don’t want that. I want songs to grab me and stay with me. I want them to cling to my skin and insist that I listen to them. “Bing Bing” doesn’t do that.