As previously mentioned, there was a three-way tie for second place in the poll that decided which August songs would be reviewed. Since I only review the top three, one of those would have to go. One of the songs was Hyuna’s ”Because I’m the Best”, which was reviewed at the beginning of this week; one was this one here, VIXX LR’s ”Beautiful Liar; and the last was a track from Girls’ Generation, and I think you’ll understand in a few days why that was the one that didn’t get picked out of the three.
Yeah, so three-way tie for second place with 17.24% of the votes, and this song came out swinging! VIXX LR is VIXX’s first subunit, which is always an exciting event. Not even all huge groups have had subunits, so this is a big day for them.
I really like this song. I think it could have just a tiny bit more punch somehow, to make it even more impactful, but this is expertly crafted. It’s a bit haunting even, and you really don’t have to see the video or understand the lyrics to hear that, and to hear the desperation. It comes through in their voices, and in the build of the song.
Leo and Ravi are the two members of VIXX with polar opposite standings when it comes to their vocals. Leo is a singer with a high-pitched crystal clear angelic voice that almost sounds a little juvenile in its purity, and Ravi is a raspy rapper that’s known for sounding like he’s rising from the depths of hell. But they’re both very talented craftsmen, and here they blend beautifully. They don’t need those layers in-between that their other members usually provide them, they can harmonize beautifully. The parts when they sing/rap at the same time are my favorite parts of the song.
This is a classic story of breaking up with someone because you think it’ll be better for them, because you want them to be happy. In this case, Leo/Ravi is not breaking up with the girl himself, but trying to seem okay with telling her to leave. The ”noble breakup” is something I absolutely loathe in kdramas, but that’s mostly because there it never makes sense, but in general I really love. If it truly is the only good thing, it’s weirdly beautiful.
”As I replay your face when you screamed go away
I’m tainting our memories that were beautiful
I haven’t imagined a life without you yet but please be happy
So that at least my lie can shine”
These are the last few lines of Ravi’s first rap part. There aren’t that many parts in this song that shows why it is he feels it’s better for her to let go of him and move on, but this line about her screaming go away is an indication. But it also states that there were once good times, which is probably why she’s stuck around this long.
”You told me to take back the words I spit out
As you hold onto my face
Then you collapsed off your feet
This isn’t the future I thought of”
What words she’s telling him to take back is very open for interpretation, it could even be the words telling her to leave him, but I like to think that here a verbal abuse situation is being addressed.
”It seemed like a sin to look at you like a lonely tied up dog
So I’m swallowing up my feelings and letting you go
You must live better than me, promise me
But the moment I said that, you turned around”
These are definitely among the best lyrics I’ve ever reviewed on this blog, I think I can safely say that. Basically, he feels bad about all the shit he’s done to her, so he’s finally trying to do the right thing. But once he does that, this girl wants to stay with him, which is not his endgame. This girl is probably very vulnerable, if she’s been in a really bad relationship for some time now, it’s probably hard for her to make this judgement properly. Which is why he’s trying to make it for her.
”I have to kill myself inside
Swallow my tears
And put on a smiling mask”
This is the lie, basically. He’s lying that he’s okay, trying to make it easier for her to leave him. And I don’t think it’s really him that’s the beautiful thing from the title, it’s the lie, the mask.
This is a great music video. It’s rare that kpop videos stick this well to the meaning of this kind of song, and do it in such a intricate and artistic way. I love analyzing poetry and the sort, so this is right up my alley.
We start off with her handing Leo a wedding invitation and then start tearing down her clothes. Packing? Is it her wedding? I’m not sure, but it’s a sign that she’s leaving, that’s for sure. We know that much. Also, how bleak doesn’t that invitation look? I know it’s supposed to suit the look of the video, but damn, who wants to go to that wedding?
Okay, so here’s my overall take on it: Leo and Ravi are the same person. Ravi is the ”wild side” of Leo. He’s the part that doesn’t want to let the girl leave, but also the part that makes it so that she has to leave. Leo is the ”good” part, that realizes that he fucked up bad, and that knows that she has to go. You can see that they’re the same yet who is who in many ways in the video.
Leo sits on the bed, and we get to see his reflection in these triple mirrors. Then it cuts back to the bed and Ravi is sitting there next to him in the same position. Perfectly establishes that they’re the same person with no fuss.
This is how we first see the two of them, and basically how we see them throughout the video. Leo is in cold colors, subdued and won’t look us in the eye while Ravi is in this shot glowing in warm colors and he’ll always face us head-on.
Also, this scene is a masterpiece. Leo is sitting there, scared, worried, in the dark, while Ravi is in the light running around being crazy, trapping the girl and somehow beating her. He isn’t actually beating her in this scene because he’s on a table, but it’s clear that’s what the scene’s getting at.
Leo is in the dark while she is in the light, and when he leans back and pulls his hand away she reaches for him. As most victims of abusive relationships, I’d say.
But as he then reaches forward and grabs her, she’s instantly terrified. This scene alone flawlessly sets the tone for the relationship.
She puts her (his?) keys on the table, as a sign that she’s leaving (I suppose).
Leo reaches out to grab them. (Check out how the colors changed.)
And Ravi pushes them away. Ravi is the part of Leo that can’t accept her leaving, the part he has to cover up with a smiling mask.
They don’t look at each other but when Ravi looks at each of them in turn, they both immediately face him. Also, he is in the light while they are both shadowed. This relationship stopped being about them, and started being about Ravi a long time ago.
As the girl leaves the room, Ravi goes to run after her, but Leo grabs him. He fights his own instinct, since Ravi is really a part of him.
As the girl walks away into the light, away from the hell of an abusive relationship…
Leo struggles to hold Ravi back in the dark. He has to let her go, and the part of him that knows that finally wins out.
Later, Leo tries to finish with the Ravi part of him once and for all.
But it ain’t so easy killing off a destructive part of yourself. More often than not, they fight back.
In the end though, Ravi has to let go.
And Leo finally vanquishes his inner demon.
While an amazingly beautiful scene, this confused me as to how it belonged in the story. I’ve come to think of it as a scene of acceptance, of Leo accepting his pained feelings and his darker sides. You have to accept before you can let it go.
Not much dance in this video, which is good, because that would have felt way out of place. But there is a beautiful tiny piece on the beach, which is really a part of the struggle between the two sides. It’s very artsy and not much like normal kpop dance. Well done, boys.
Outfits and Styling
I didn’t pay attention to the styling in the way I usually do (i.e. do they look good?) but more in the sense of the symbolism of the story. Leo is somber, always dressed cleanly in one color and his hair is simple and black. Ravi on the other hand is everything wild. His clothes and makeup are colorful and out there and his hair is bleached and styled to match the wildness of his persona. Just take a look at these two shots:
That red makeup on Ravi is freaky but also so appropriate. He’s the emotions that Leo is suppressing, and that makeup almost makes it look like he’s cried so much his eyes are bleeding. It’s a cool effect.
The boys look great, in very different ways, but that really wasn’t what this video cared about and I thought that was nice. It was about the story.
Are you as enthralled as I am? Do you think I nailed the interpretation or do you have some pointers? Would you have liked to see Leo do the wild and crazy side instead of a character that’s not so far from how he seemingly always acts?