REVIEW: Before they go with TVXQ’s “Rise as One” and “Champagne”

Enlistment is probably the scariest word to hear when you are a KPop fan. It is expected but when the day comes, it still surprises you. In two years, oppa (or dongsaeng in my case) will be nowhere in sight, and what remains are just a bunch of unwatched DVD’s and retrospecting Youtube videos to occupy your time.

BUT, as any pop star who faces uncertainty, they’ve left something to get us by — at least for the next three months.

It looks cool, funky, hipster, existential, okay… maybe not the last two, but it got my hopes up that they’ll do one last comeback before Yunho goes into career hibernation mode. You can clearly sense that these would be entirely two different singles.

tvxq-food-hibernationNot that kind of hibernation!

Unfortunately, some wishes don’t come true no matter how perfect your “Cassiopeia Constellation” dancing wish ritual is.

IMG_0443Neon naege ppajyeo~~~ (

First stop is my ultimate bias’s hibernation single “Rise As One”

The song is a power-ballad from resident belter Shim Changmin. It starts out slow and it gradually peaks to that EDM drop in the middle. I am sensing that for the last two years, SME is having it’s current EDM episode now, and the apparent drug use of the producers are more and more evident.

Drugs are so~ooo bad!!!


Considering that this is a carrier single, it was an “okay” song. There were much better songs in the album that I see more fitting to be a carrier single or has more emotion to it compared to this one. If for Changmin’s solo, I’d prefer “Apology” over this, because that song has more intensity to it.

You can say whatever you want about pop songs sounding crappier and crappier each day, but usually pop songs should be light, easy to digest, and can be played in so many occasions such as shopping malls, festivals, children’s birthday parties… okay, maybe not always the last one, but Rise As One’s melody is more of a singing contest piece given it’s amazing vocals. The overall sound is more suited for driving to the countryside soundtracks.

shim-speedingWhere speed limits are just numbers written in paint.

The music video looks like a love-child of Taylor Swift’s “Safe and Sound” and EXO’s “Love Me Right” which we are back again with SME’s notorious recycling of sets and props!

Remember the room wherein Xiumin and Chen got high in pink plumes and spent several days stoned in a bed of “grass?”

vlcsnap-2015-08-25-00h02m05s121 Looks like Xiumin and Chen left some “herbs” for their sunbaes.

This… but… with grayish addicting mist, and more “grass” because sunbaes can afford more of it.

vlcsnap-2015-08-24-23h45m21s63They can afford an entire Mary Jane plantation if they wanted too, but, how would the whole highlands fit inside their teensy-weensy Cheongdam-dong condos?

While we’re on the topic, there are two ways to look at this music video — the creative way, and the realistic view of things, because, a sensitive soul and overly sentimental fan like me cannot resist finding metaphors in so many ways than one.

In the beginning of the video, two kids are roaming around a dilapidated property in the middle of the forest, foraging for TV’s. The two are in a suspended animation state which might be telling of their impending enlistment and inactivity for two years, and whatever’s happening to the real person, seems to happen to the kids like a butterfly rests in Changmin’s nose and consequently a butterfly also sits on the kid’s nose. The kids might be the representation of the two.



The obvious explanation for this is that the kids represent the sentimental entities of the two. Though I have a slight peeve with the choice of models here. You see, if I would bring in my creative experience here, take note of the word “creative experience” here, (totally different from being a racist) would it be more fitting if the kids had some resemblance with the two? You know, Asian looking?

Or, in a more practical sense, did SME have a contract with the modelling agency that mostly supplied Caucasian models instead of Asians, you know, from “Something?”

Bc8a_jpCAAA6I07SME: “DAMN IT! Why did I offer this agency a 13-year contract like my artists!”

If these pair are representing the two, then popular culture automatically makes the kid in white with deep eyes holding a teddy bear as Changmin… which we all know…





…far from…




Aside from the obvious explanation that virtual reality characters don’t need actual people food, the tellies might be the years they’ve spent building their own brand and in the more sentimental sense — building their relationship with the fans.

The shanty living might be telling of their “started from the bottom” story, and the tellies are the musical kingdom they have built for more than ten years.

In the middle of the virtual plantation… I mean, forest, a pretty white lady dances, which kinda reminded me of that sexually frustrated red lady in Mirotic. Though this time, she’s not chasing them anymore, but she’s calm and happy, and her movements are more refined, just like what happens after your hormones stop firing randomly… you know… puberty.

vlcsnap-2015-08-25-00h09m13s0Or it’s just the “herbs” working.

After several hours of foraging for tellies (instead of food), the kids decided to burn the tellies. Now this is turning more “Battle Royale” than a Dong Bang hibernation music video! Having those kids pillage for old tech in the forest in hopes of hacking the system.

vlcsnap-2015-08-25-00h10m31s63Lay off the drugs!

But if you didn’t watch “Battle Royale,” and wasn’t going off course here, the burning tower is more of uncertainty in the future.


But still, kids… wandering in the forest… collecting old tech in an old warehouse, burns it to the ground — it all checks out!

The video ends with the kids staring at the ocean — the usual scene in every Dong Bang live performance after finishing it and it’s time to say goodbye.


They are going to serve their duties to the country for two years, and as Changmin puts it, it’s “hubris” to think that everything will be the same even in a short period of time. Maybe some will move on to build a family, move on with their careers, but nonetheless they can be thankful that in those years, they’ve enjoyed the fruits of their labor and had given them dividends. The hibernation in the video might mean that, they are never gone.

But if there are no more “herbs” or invisible onion-chopping ninjas involved, I’d say that the producers thought of this treatment because… after painstakingly thinking of possible symbolism and angle for this video, I’ve come to the conclusion that the use of the color, filters, slow-motion cameras, controlled lighting, and seemingly marijuana plantation hibernation chamber — IT LOOKS HIPSTER AS SHT!!!

Rise as One is just a staple bizarre EDM music videos that is played on MTV during the wee hours.



It’s not that I hate it but it’s so common. There was nothing exciting and surprising about it, unlike their other music videos “Something” and “Suri-Suri.” It felt more like a filler video by SME so that they can make time for the simultaneous release of two singles on time.

Plus, the duo or even Changmin’s presence wasn’t there, and the Caucasian models didn’t do. It’s not that TVXQ should be all over the place in this because of practical reasons but the models didn’t exactly fill the absence of the two.

Another thing is that, in this video, it doesn’t feel like Changmin owns the video or fully highlights his individuality.

Moving on.

Champagne is Yunho’s carrier single from the album. The song is a standard smooth, classy RnB song that you can easily develop an ear worm from. It is the sound that you’ll usually expect from TVXQ.



Unlike Rise As One this song is is easier to listen too, easier to remember and to sing too even if you don’t understand Korean, especially the line: “Girl I only want you tonight.” I’d imagine this song being played everywhere from retail stores, to boutiques in Gangnam to childre… okay, still not in children’s parties.


You know that this music video will be a vomiting different spectrum of the rainbow when you see that the intro is Yunho wearing a… I don’t even know what that shade of green is against a classy Marsala backdrop.

vlcsnap-2015-08-25-00h27m32s39 Regurgitated Mountain Dew, bubblegum, vodka cocktail?

Proving that he is the “dance leader,” the video is riddled with dance breaks. For the fans, it’s a treat of everything Yunho, but for those who can look deeper, it’s a tongue in cheek play of an opulent, fast-riding, partying lifestyle of the rich and famous.

At first, the skit looks like just another comedy special from Ho, or even present different sides of Ho, but for someone who spends some time in clubs, they look like different people in clubs that you have to deal with:

vlcsnap-2015-08-25-00h29m05s205The rich d**che who acts like a baby around his trophy girlfriend.

vlcsnap-2015-08-25-00h28m54s94The full of hot air swagger.

vlcsnap-2015-08-25-00h29m46s107The rock star who usually trashes the place or is the life of the party until somebody calls the cops or…

vlcsnap-2015-08-25-00h30m09s76…the bouncers kick him out of the premises.

vlcsnap-2015-08-25-00h29m34s245And the “I’m just here for the drinks” guy.

Preparing himself to look fly…


…or actually everybody recognizing him after a closer look.


The only color-coordinated part of the video is the classy night club.



In “The Celebrity’s 85th line,” it’s been told that Yunho really likes to party with his friends and this video is no different from that. As you can notice, most of the dancers and models… even though employed by SME, have been in other TVXQ videos as well. The BTS (not the boy band) clip in the end even strengthens the idea that these people not only his co-workers including the staff but his friends in real life.



The music video was totally entertaining and the scenes just keeps on getting fresh (and sparkly like Champagne. AH! CRAP! I just didn’t say that!) as the video goes on. What I really like about the video is that, even though it’s not unique, you can see that it’s all Yunho and it totally showcases his personality and experience when he’s behind the camera.

You can also sense that the producer got what Yunho wanted in a solo video. A stark contrast to Rise As One’s safe approach.


Both MVs clearly displays what kind of political power each hold. Min has that “MEH” hold in SME and I feel that his personality is more passive, sensitive, and just agrees to whatever other people are saying, while Yunho  is more assertive and he really knows what he wants and knows how to get it. Given the two gentlemen’s different life backgrounds.

It seems that Changmin’s solo aims to be more sentimental and personal for the audience because this is their last chance to entertain such a large fan-base while Champagne aims to pass on a legacy. The presence of an SM Rookies kid there will take you back to Yunho’s “Diamond” days, maybe he’s paying it forward.

HO-ROOKIESCan you imagine this kid going to variety shows saying “I use to dance in Yunho-sunbae’s music video,” and his members regretting his presence?

Their seamless partnership on stage  feels like an entire contrast to their personalities behind the scenes and these singles really reflect that.

Overall, the only disappointment was them not being able to perform this live as a comeback in music shows.

We’ll just wait after two years for that comeback.



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