According to old-school K-pop fans, Lee Jung Hyun is Korea’s “Queen of Transformation” and “Techno Queen” who introduced the genre to K-pop in the late nineties, and has maintained a career for more than a decade through Madonna-like reinventions. I can’t personally vouch for that because I’ve only ever heard a few of her songs in the past while trapped in a Youtube K-hole, but I can say that her latest single, “V,” is fucking fabulous.
“V” brings back the heavy euro-trot style that was quietly introduced last year by Gangkiz’s trendsetting debut, “Honey Honey,” and then later ripped-off and brought to the top of the charts by Orange Caramel’s “Lipstick.” Jung Hyun expands the sound with sixties guitar strums that come surfing through, and an anthemtic, euro-dance pre-chorus that’s reminiscent of the watery club-pop of RedOne and David Guetta.
Lyrically, in what is most likely a nod to V For Vendetta, Jung Hyun repeatedly refers to herself as the song’s single letter title while singing about trying to free herself from a bad relationship. It’s clever and quirky, without being too bizarre (not that being too bizarre is a bad thing).
The official music video sees Jung Hyun teaming up with the director of Oldboy (yes, she seriously managed to score Park Chan-wook for this) to create a camp throwback to old Korean horror flicks. She plays a demented, slutty corpse bride who terrorizes a poor guy who finds himself trapped in her haunted house of doom after his car crashes nearby. It’s sexy, creepy, and hilarious, with an obvious nod to “Thriller.” And like most seasoned K-divas, Jung Hyun’s maintained her stunning beauty through plastic surgery, causing her to look a decade younger than her 33 years in certain scenes.
K-pop videos get a lot of shit for being too artificial and formulaic, but when they break out of the box like “V” does, they’re easily some of the best pop music has to offer.
On first listen, “V” can come off like a cheap and generic dance-pop throwaway, but it turns into an addictively good time if given a proper chance. Plus, Lee Jung Hyun is so damn royal and ferosh that denying her is nothing short of treason.