Sometimes I feel bad about the amount of Korean music I write about lately, because it can be kind of alienating to readers who are not super enthused about the idea exploring music outside of their own language. But then I watch something like Heize‘s new music video for “Mianhae (Sorry),” and I quickly remember how entirely fucks-free I am about trying to please sensitive, English-only ears. Sorry! Get with the program.
Heize is a 26-year-old singer-songwriter-rapper, who rapidly grew in popularity following an appearance on the female rapper reality show, Unpretty Rapstar. (She is both pretty and a rap star.) She’s also notched several No. 1 hits ever since.
Her new album Wish & Wind, released last week (March 8), is the best album out right now – a perfect blend of jazz, hip-hop and soothing R&B melodies. It plays like a warm cup of tea in the dead of winter, therefore making it perfect for this time of year. The chorus of lead track “Jenga” – which is in English, by the way – has haunted my brain from the very first play. “I don’t want to play this game no more…somebody help.” (Seriously, though. Help.)
As of Tuesday (March 13), Heize just dropped the third visual from the collection – this time for the apology-heavy album closer “Mianhae,” or “Sorry.” (“First, I’m sorry / And I’m sorry, I’m sorry / It’s all my fault,” she sighs across the otherwise bright melody.)
The tone of the song is where the language barrier gets tricky: from what I can gather, she’s being bitter, as opposed to genuinely apologetic – as in, like, “sure, fine, everything about me sucks. I’m so sorry. I’ll shut up now.” I’d love if a Korean reader could confirm the sentiment to me so I’m not the white boy pretending to be the authority on these matters.
Visually, there’s more room for interpretation. And from what I’m seeing, Heize is navigating some meta pop star critique territory.
Stellar aesthetic aside – she looks absolutely stunning throughout, as do the eerily realistic robots and creepy mannequins, and every single frame of this video is art – the video feels like her way of clapping back at the idea of being considered just another pawn in the pop star game.
It immediately reminded me of the Empress of J-Pop herself, Ayumi Hamasaki, and her video for “Alterna”: a performing robot forced to entertain the crowds until she’s junked and/or worn out. Even in the song, she sings things like (help me out, Google Translate) “It’s time to sing. I’m really sorry” – as if resigning to the idea that she’s just a singing robot.
Considering how intense idol culture is, it’s not hard to imagine that she’s finding herself feeling trapped and objectified, just like her humanoid counterpart on display in that glass box. Miss Miley‘s shared a similar “Robot” sentiment, too. And of course, Britney‘s tackled the topic many times over, from “Lucky” to the paparazzi-filled “Everytime” and “Piece Of Me” videos to the icy, expressionless kiss-off that is “Mannequin”: “You can cry-cry-cry again-gain-gain / My face like a mannequin.”
The best part after her robo-self short-circuiting, of course, is the real tear Heize sheds towards the very end of the video, supplying some needed emotion and humanity amid the tangled wires and artificial limbs.
That said: Heize still makes for one fierce robot. Watch your wig, Sophia.
“Mianhae” was released on March 8. (iTunes)
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