Dreamcatcher Debut Review: “Chase Me”

Dal Shabet’s little sister group Minx has revamped and redebuted as Dreamcatcher. They’ve completely reversed their image, going from sexy-cute to dark and edgy. I have been so excited for this ever since their teasers started coming out. I love their name, I love their logo, and I love their concept.  It’s hard for me to tell how well their debut is received in Korea, but I personally think that they’ve made a strong entrance onto the playing field.

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*WARNING!* This post assumes that you have listened to the music and/or watched the music video.

MEMBERS

Since Dreamcatcher has recently debuted, I’ve found a video that introduces the different members. (I still have a little trouble telling them apart) JiU, SuA, Siyeon, Yoohyeon, and Dami were originally in the group Minx, which debuted in 2014.  In re-debuting as Dreamcatcher, they’ve added two more vocalists: Chinese member Handong and new maknae Gahyeon. I’m not 100% of their different roles and positions because there’s not much information on them yet. In this post I will go by what I can tell from their previous videos, the line distribution, and the choreography, but it’s mostly informed guesses.

CONCEPT: Dark/edgy (Their music video is horror themed, but I’m not sure yet if that will play into their overall concept)

SONG:

This song is a wild ride, in a good way.  It starts out calmly enough with the piano, but then the drums and electric guitar come in and firmly establish it as a pop-rock song. Once it gets going, it keeps up the head-banging energy all the way to the end.  It’s crazy energetic, but it builds in a nice fashion to keep it from being overpowering.

It also has a really strong anime vibe.  By that I mean this is the kind of song that you would expect to hear during an opening for an action/fantasy anime, something like BleachAkame ga KillFairy Tail, Fate Stay Night etc.  It has all of the trademark characteristics: fast beat, frantic electric guitar strumming, rising and falling vocals, and echo effects on some of the voices. This isn’t something that’s being done a lot in K-Pop a lot right now, so it could bring in a bunch of new fans (Japanese fans and anime lovers).

SCORE: 18/20

LYRICS

I’ll be honest: I’ve watched a whole bunch of lyric videos for this one, and I still don’t completely understand the lyrics.  This is the pitfall of not really speaking Korean. On one level, it seems like a love song about a relationship – where the singer takes a thrill in pursuing the object of her affection but also likes being chased too. On the other hand, it also seems to be about individuality and independence.  There’s a lot of references to the rest of the world being dull and uninteresting: “The dreams of empty people are so boring.” The singer likes thrills and fireworks. She takes charge and causes a lot of chaos (“I’m going to start a joke”), happy to be doing so.

If you look at it this way, it goes really well with the horror-themed music video and the idea of the girls haunting the hotel. The girls clearly enjoy tormenting the man who’s staying there.  Lines like “This quiet world is going to get a whole lot of noise” and “Can you stop it?” fit in perfectly here. On its own, the song is confident and bold.  Within the context of the music video, it highlights the creepier concept nicely.  I also appreciate the lines about jumping into dreams, which is a cool reference to the group’s name.

SCORE: 8/10

LINE DISTRIBUTION:

It would appear that Siyeon and Yoohyeon are the main vocals of the group. Siyeon in particular gets most of the song, with her high notes and ad libs.  JiU and SuA also have a decent amounts of lines, getting sections in the bridge and chorus. Dami seems to be the rapper, so she gets half a verse.  The new members gets the least amount of lines.  Overall, the line distribution seems pretty standard for a seven-member group (for example, AOA has a similar structure).

SCORE: 8/10

CHOREOGRAPHY

The girls have already released three flawless dance practices, so I could tell that the choreography for this one was going to be amazing.  And it certainly does not disappoint. The level of this choreography from rookies is insane. It’s like Gfriend, but with an edgy feel. It plays to all of the rock aspects of the song and keeps up the frenzied rhythm throughout.  As you might expect from a song that’s called “Chase Me,” there’s a lot of fancy footwork and allusions to running. I’m not overly a fan of the key point where they look like they’re moshing, but I do love the hair pulling.  It seems simple, but given how fast they’re going it’s probably pretty easy to mess up.

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Overall, I think that the choreography goes with the music very well.  It’s high-energy, but there is still some variety.  I really like how the moves match the build of the chorus.  They’re so synchronized and their lines are so clean, which also adds a really sharp and powerful effect.

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SCORE: 18/20

CENTER AND FORMATIONS

The choreography is great, but the different formations kick it up a notch.  Whoever created this dance really knew how to make the whole performance look interesting and dynamic.  There are so many shapes and levels.

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Another touch that I like is that the members face in different directions at certain points in the dance, which also adds dimension.  The center in this group favors whoever is singing, which would make the group Siyeon.  This is a great way to showcase all the girls. I wish that dance line (which from the practice videos I’d guess is SuA, JiU, and Dami) didn’t get a lot of center time, but that’s a small thing.

SCORE: 9/10

MUSIC VIDEO

Dreamcatcher has been getting a lot of attention for their horror-movie inspired music video.  I personally can’t do horror movies, so luckily this one is more on the creepy side rather than outright scary. A paranormal investigator arrives at a hotel to try and figure out the reason behind the hauntings, only to be besieged by the members acting out against him. At the end, he discovers a room that is drastically different and lighter than the rest of the video.  As we see a flashback of the girls laughing and having a pillow fight, we realize that we’ll have to wait for their comeback to learn more.

The creep factor is high for this one.  There isn’t anything outright scary – the most unsettling part is when one of the girls uses voodoo on a teddy bear to remove the man’s eyes (*shudder*), but maybe that’s just because I’m really sensitive when it comes to eye stuff.  There are lots of classic tropes of horror films – blinking lights, ghosts appearing and disappearing, poltergeist like activity. Seoul Beats mentions in their review that there are aesthetic influences of two South Korean horror films: Whispering Corridors and A Tale of Two Sisters. I haven’t seen either of these films and I don’t plan to because I’m a horror movie wimp, so I’m going to take their word for it.

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The editing of the film is really clever and really matches the pace of the song.  In the first two thirds, we – like the investigator – are assaulted with all sorts of images and different hauntings.  Each girl appears to torment the man, and it’s all literally done in the blink of an eye.  Sua appears over his bed, Siyeon locks him in his room, Yoohyeon (?) changes all of the room numbers to be the same, etc. The fast rhythm slows down in the bridge, where the man watches a recording he made of a moment in the beginning of the video.  JiU was the first ghost to appear, and in this moment where she chases him down the hall she gets singled out as the leader of the chaos. Not long after that, we see JiU disappear into a room.  As the end of the song builds, the man appears with an axe and hacks down the door to discover the secret room.

Although the editing is great, I do wish that they had chosen to minimize some shots of the members either singing or dancing.  I was so engrossed in what was going on that sometimes seeing the choreography pulled me out of the moment. The production design is also quite well done.  It’s very simplistic, but together with the creepy lighting it really does give the appearance of a haunted place.  And the props – especially the paintings, the candles, and the dolls -are a nice touch. I actually wasn’t that disturbed watching the music video first time, but watching it multiple times for this review has somehow managed to make it more unsettling for me.

SCORE: 19/20

STYLING:

The girls’ standard outfit in both the music video and the promotions seems to be either a red or black yukata. It’s a good fit for the dark and edgy concept, and it’s an interesting second reminder of Japanese culture.  The ghosts’ clothes in the music video are also interesting.  They’re dressed in a distinctly older style with long dresses and skirts.  It makes them look like children, but it also makes them look like dolls.  Both sets of outfits promote a distinct image and really helps them market the dark concept.

As is standard for a new girl group, all of the girls have similar hair colors and styles.  Since they’re already wearing the same clothing for the promotions, it would have been nice to have some variety in at least the hair style.  It was very hard for me to tell who was who, except for Dami who usually sports a ponytail.  Just giving a couple more of them updos or brades would have sufficed.

STYLE MVP: JiU

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SCORE: 8/10

FINAL TALLY

Song: 18/20

Lyrics: 8/10

Line Distribution: 8/10

Choreography: 18/20

Center and Formations: 9/10

Music Video: 19/20

Styling: 8/10

TOTAL: 88

Conclusion: I didn’t actually check out Minx before they became Dreamcatcher.  So I watched Minx’s previous releases  the other day, and I was shocked.  Not just because Minx’s image is bright and bubbly, but also because there was a complete contrast in production value.  It was just a mish-mash of girl group tropes that didn’t help them in any way.  Nothing about those videos would have made them stand out, even if the songs are catchy. I’m glad that Happy Face realized how smart it was to re-debut these girls with a more solid image.

I gave this song higher marks than I have for my previous reviews, and I think that’s partially because they don’t have other work that I can compare yet (I’m not counting Minx).  But I also think that it was a really strong debut, where they are very committed to their concept.  Of course there are things that I think need fixing, but overall they had unity across the board in music, performance, and image.  The quality of the debut feels the same as groups from bigger companies like NCT and Blackpink.  They’ve chosen a concept and a musical style that no other girl group in K-Pop is really doing right now, so I hope that it will bring them a lot of attention. I’m really excited to see what’s next for these girls.

SOURCES: Youtube, Happy Face Entertainment, Seoul Beats

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