OH MY GIRL - Secret Garden
OH MY GIRL is a seven-member girl group under WM Entertainment. Originally formed as an eight-member group that debuted back in 2015, member JinE had to discontinue her journey with the others due to health concerns. "Coloring Book," the group's last comeback, was released just over nine months ago, so it's been some time since we've last seen OH MY GIRL. Now the girls are back with "Secret Garden." From the name of the song in combination with the teasers, it seemed to me that they were once more heading into a completely different direction than ones they've previously taken.
The song kicks off with synth notes piping softly alongside piano chords and some finger snaps. We then get a much heavier, grittier sound when the drum bass notes blast in and start to seesaw beneath cushioned vocals from the girls. Things take an interesting turn when the pre-chorus hits, where one of synth rhythms turns very atmospheric, melding together with an escalating bass and crackling drumbeat to create a crescendo reminiscent of a space shuttle taking off. Violins suddenly emerge and shower the chorus with a Disney-esque orchestral ambiance. The heavier bass and drum lines remain for the second verse, we get a dance break just before the bridge, and then the final chorus pulls back all of the instruments to let vocals take the forefront just before one final run through our refrain and our high note.
I like "Secret Garden" a lot, truly I do. There's a delicious contradictory sort of feel between the perky instrumentals and the almost emotionally-afflicted vocals. The song as a whole sounds very unique in the K-Pop scene, and it manages to still retain an ethereal atmosphere that's exclusively and unmistakably OH MY GIRL's.
However, I do see a few issues with it. My first critique is that when I was first listening to it, I didn't really feel like it came together as a solid, cohesive piece until the last chorus. Perhaps that was just me, but that is what my initial thoughts were. My only real issue with this song is that I think it doesn't feel like a title track. It's lacking the poppy, gummy vibe that one might expect from a title track, and while I realize this song is a different concept and direction for OH MY GIRL, I personally don't see this getting much attention in the grand scheme of things. Miracles will certainly appreciate and adore the song, but I don't think it will have nearly the same pull on audiences that aren't already fans.
The video starts off with a frontal shot of a Fiat, which is coincidentally playing "Secret Garden," before the camera rotates around while we hear heels clicking against the ground. It's revealed to be Arin, who is walking to the bus stop. She opens up a circular box, which transitions us to a quick shot of the entire group in a dark room with a dramatic spotlight looming over their heads. Cut to Jiho on a train, back to Arin at the bus stop, Binnie in a classroom holding a birdcage, YooA in a psuedo-garden, Mimi in a kitchen, Hyojung in a living room, and Seunghee at a table working on some art.
Really this is all just setting up several different scenes that start off fairly standard and over the course of the video, transform into drastically gorgeous distorted combinations of reality. The road in front of the bus stop becomes a bright violet galaxy, Binnie's classroom is actually floating amongst the clouds, Seunghee's paintings become animated and spring to life while water lying inside of washed dishes in Mimi's kitchen have a similar effect. YooA's garden actually inside of one of many floating crystals, Hyoujung's living room becomes an aquarium.
Petals from Arin's scene start to blow into Hyojung's train window, and when she looks out she sees the white deer that was in Mimi's kitchen. We get a shot of the girls all dancing in a round arena, insinuating that they're all inside of Arin's box. Then all of the girls appear at the bus stop and the video comes to an end.
Before I start talking about my thoughts, I do want to let anybody know that isn't keen on this information already, that the whale in the video is representative of JinE. That carries a lot of weight for me, and I'll just admit my bias towards OH MY GIRL right now.
This music video is probably one of the most gorgeous I've ever seen. There are so many absolutely delightful shots due to the dreamlike concept being cranked up to eleven and then applied in a simple, yet incredibly effective manner. There are several callbacks to their previous music videos, and I'm sure I even missed some. While the overall idea behind all of the symbolism is completely lost on me, I can't help but say that the sheer aesthetics were so divine that I enjoyed replaying this video multiple times already. The dance looked to be a combination of sharp movements contrasted along with softer, cuter ones, almost reminding me of GFRIEND in a way, and I'm very excited to see live performances of this.
This definitely isn't my favorite OH MY GIRL song, but as a fan I really do enjoy the attempt at something different. The video, as I said, is absolutely lovely and I think is probably the second most memorable MV of theirs so far for me (the first being "LIAR LIAR"). I'm really excited to check out either the dance practice in particular when it releases. I can't say that you'll enjoy it immensely, but I can say that you should at least give "Secret Garden" a listen.