Anyone who has spent a little time perusing K-pop music videos knows that some of them feel like complete (and oftentimes action) movies, condensed into three or four minute-long sequences. This is not a bad thing; in fact, it could not be a better thing. It’s what makes it so easy to spend hours on YouTube watching video after video of EXO and BTS.
This tradition has a newcomer: nine-member boy band Stray Kids. Yesterday, they released their debut music video, “District 9,” and it’s already clear that waiting until the next one is going to be a struggle.
The video spends most of its time between a creepily sterile facility of some sort and a broken-down bus. Visually, it’s fantastic; the initial shot of all nine members lined up perfectly still in a room full of green light makes the video impossible to look away from and, from a glittering rose garden to the white-walled rooms of the building’s interior, the images from there on out do not disappoint.
All of it seems to speak to a desire to not be contained, which takes off when the group escapes the facility and rides away on the bus. The masterfully rapped lyrics are wholesome yet hardcore at the same time: “They just look at us as a bunch of troublemakers / It won’t be an easy one to change their views / But we won’t get down on misconceptions and bias / It’s our mission to prove who we are.” The choreography is also creative and exciting, whether the group is dancing in the parking lot or on the moving bus itself.
As a debut, “District 9” does everything it should do. It demands the viewer’s attention from start to finish, and also asserts the question of the budding group’s identity with lines like, “Knock it off with your negative vibes, back off,” and, “Why are you talking like you know me though I don’t even know myself?” One can only hope that the band releases new music (and new action-packed music videos) in the near future. Until then, there’s nothing to do but stick to watching this one over and over again.