Dreamcatcher Comeback Review: “Good Night”

Dreamcatcher has definitely gotten a lot of interest from the international community in the past few months.  The girls are clearly going all in on the dark horror aesthetic, and so far it looks like it’s paying off.  While “Chase Me” already ventured into the supernatural, “Good Night” goes full-on occult – and I’m happy to go along for the ride.

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*WARNING!* This review assumes the reader has listened to the music and/or seen the music video!

Concept: Dark/edgy, horror

SONG:

“Good Night” has a lullaby for an intro (how appropriately creepy!), but it gets real intense real quick. It’s largely influenced by heavy rock and metal, with electric guitar and percussion as the key elements. They’re more noticeable during the fast and frantic chorus, but they make themselves heard even if they’re providing the background. “Good Night” definitely has darker undertones built into the melody and the instrumentals.  The most obvious example is the rapping in the second verse, where both SuA and Dami use a very low tone.  It’s very attention-grabbing and sounds almost sinister.

Dreamcatcher has gotten a lot of their attention for their “anime sound.”  My otaku heyday was in the early 2000’s (!!!!), so I’m only really familiar with the super popular series.  But to me, “Chase Me” sounds like it could easily be an anime opening.  When I heard “Good Night,” I could have sworn that I’d actually heard it before.  (It turned out that I was thinking of “Ichirin no Hana” from Bleach, which isn’t exactly the same but shares a lot of elements). There’s something very compelling about the contrast between women singing and an electric guitar wailing – which perhaps explains why it’s featured in many anime themes.

I really like “Good Night,” perhaps even more than “Chase Me.”  My only problem is that it needs several listens to like it.  The first three times I heard it, I couldn’t remember the melody to save my life.  Repeat value is quite common in K-pop, but the problem with Dreamcatcher is that they’re very niche.  There are quite a lot of international K-pop fans like that also like anime; within Korea, I’m not so sure.  “Good Night” is a great song for those who love this kind of thing, but I don’t think it will draw in people that are unfamiliar with its style and genre.

SCORE: 17/20

LYRICS:

The girls double down on their horror theme by entering someone’s nightmares and essentially terrorizing them.  While I do like that a lot of K-pop songs revolve around romance, it’s refreshing to find a song that’s basically the complete opposite. I suppose it could have some hints of romance, depending on how you interpret certain phrases. But there are no explicit references to love, nor any declarations of it.  Not once do they mention how this person makes them feel, only the effect they know they have on him or her.  The key part is they seem perversely delighted about the power they’re wielding:

“Oh baby, run run run it, to get far away
Run run run it, to a place you can’t see
You can’t escape no matter how much you try, oh
In the endlessly repeating nightmare, stay trapped like this forever
Like my very own doll, baby Good Night”

A lot of the badass or girl crush use “confident” songs, but “Good Night” goes right past that into “controlling” territory.  (“I’ll be conducting your dreams without change, without even moving a finger / I’m making you drenched in sweat, you can’t wake up”) The lyrics are unsettling, but downright delectable.  The whole fun of the song is reveling in the control they have, and it’s not taking itself seriously. Boy groups often sing about these devastating effects that women have on them (see: Monsta X’s “Beautiful”), so it’s super interesting to hear a girl group describes how they make the object of their affections (or obsessions) go crazy.

SCORE: 10/10

LINE DISTRIBUTION:

The line distribution hasn’t changed much from “Chase Me” – in fact, it’s hardly changed at all.  The actual percentages of who gets what may have flipped around a bit, but the hierarchy remains the same.  Siyeon, Yoohyeon and JiU (a.k.a. the vocal line) still take care of most of the song.  Dami and SuA don’t have a lot because they’re more rap, and there’s not that much of that in “Good Night.”  They did a slightly better job with Handong, because they gave her some pretty standout (albeit short) lines like “I don’t wanna tick tock.” But Gahyeon only has one line and then essentially disappears.  So while the line distribution is pretty good, I still think they need to spend a bit more time highlighting the newer members.

SCORE: 8/10

CHOREOGRAPHY:

The best thing by far about this dance is the opening with the tutting. It’s so precise and difficult.  Not only are they isolating very specific parts of their bodies – like hands and feet specific – they’re also moving different parts in different directions.  It takes an immense amount of coordination and concentration to pull something like that off, and the payoff is huge. To put it simply, it looks cool, horror-inspired, and downright awesome.

Tutting-Intro

Unfortunately, the rest of the dance never hits that high level.  It’s definitely hard and requires a lot of energy, but I don’t find it interesting.  It’s good, but not great.  To me, it basically looks like a darker version of Gfriend’s “Rough.” I don’t mean that they copied it, but there are many technical similarities between their styles: the difficulty level, the sharp and clean arm movements, the constantly switching spots.  Plus, there’s only so many ways you can express ideas of time and running through dance. (Actually, the running key point looks more like Lovelyz and “Wow,” but you get what I mean)

Running

Dreamcatcher has proven that they’re more than capable of doing complex choreography.  They have like seven or eight dance practices on Youtube at this point.  So now they need to kick it up a notch.  I don’t need them to be tutting their way through an entire song (although that would be wild).  But most of their choreography blends together after a while, and it should be more memorable. The reason that the dance for “Rough” is so iconic is because it holds our attention from beginning to end.  Each section stands out on it’s own, like they’re dancing out a story.   So Dreamcatcher has definitely impressed us, but now they have to engage us.

SCORE: 17/20

CENTER AND FORMATIONS:

One reason I loved the dance for “Chase Me” was because there were so many interesting visual elements.  There were all sorts of formations, shapes, directions, levels, etc.  “Good Night” is somewhat lacking in this, but they do have some strong points.  My favorite part is when they build the hands of a clock, which is an often-used but fun classic.  Again, it’s just a matter of keeping things entertaining and making more distinctive shapes and movements.  Once they get that down, they’ll be unstoppable.

Clock

The center position generally goes to the vocals: Siyeon, Yoohyeon, and JiU. I’m still confused as to why SuA – the main dancer – is not in the center for any dance points. But at least they have JiU, who is beautiful and fierce and (most importantly) has the skills to center that tutting section.  I personally think that Siyeon captivates with her voice rather than her dancing, so she doesn’t always catch my eye.  But Yoohyeon is a very good choice because her performance is very charismatic and easily draws attention.

SCORE: 8/10

MUSIC VIDEO:

MV-Running In a rare move for idols, Yoohyeon actually explained their music video on After School Club. (Huzzah!!! Now I don’t have to spend paragraphs making things up guessing!) Here’s what I put together from her summary and re-watching the video: The actor that we previously saw in “Chase Me” is a “nightmare hunter.” He’s trying to chase down and capture the girls with what seems to be a spell book that. He’s already captured Gahyeon and SuA (the book illustrates their predicaments).  Yoohyeon and Siyeon are chased through the forest, presumably by him.  But JiU, Handong, and Dami are safely squared away in an alternate mirror dimension.  They eventually rescue the others by grabbing the spell book, and then they beat him at his own game by trapping him in the mirror.

When I re-watched the music video with that information in hand, I could see it. However, before that I had a pretty different interpretation. I thought that it was actually all flashbacks showing us how the girls died. I figured that the book actually belonged to them, and they were punishing the hunter for getting too involved in their stories.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy that there’s an explanation to the story. But I have so many more questions now!  Who are these girls really?  How does all of this supernatural magic stuff fit in?  What’s this mirror dimension? And how did they die????

MV-TrappedI think the main reason for this confusion is the passivity of the hunter.  A hunter by definition should be a pretty active character, yet we mostly just see him standing around observing and/or reading.  If he’s the one chasing Yoohyeon and Siyeon, it’s pretty unclear.  This could easily have been avoided by giving him some clear actions.  However, this editing flaw doesn’t derail the story, it just muddles it. If we want the story, we have to work to lookfor it.  Normally I’m not a fan of that because I believe it’s the director’s duty to be clear.  But I’m being lenient here because I see the fundamentals are there, which is more than what I can say for some story videos.

MV-BookThe music video’s true strength is its aesthetics, which are killer.  “Chase Me” was pretty much a ghost story, which is paranormal in itself.  But I loved how they added on to it by bringing in a lot of occult elements this time.  There’s the spell book, mirror dimensions, witchcraft, voodoo dolls, hints of a secret society or sorcery (with the black capes), and of course their namesake with the dream catcher.  Whoever did the production design should be commended, because his or her efforts really paid off.  The whole music video has an unsettling feel, but at the same time it just looks so cool. It really makes me excited to see what other worlds they come up with in the future.

SCORE: 18/20

STYLING:

The fashion in the music video is very interesting.  The girls are mostly wearing long pale-colored dresses.  I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s period clothing, but it certainly evokes a different time.  Because the dresses are long and flowing, they look very ghostlike.  I also like how older members like JiU look more grown up, while the younger ones like Dami look more childish in big nightgowns. It’s a small but intriguing detail.

MV-Spell

I’m not quite as sold on the performance outfits.  I like the jacket because it gives off a rocker feel, but I don’t like that it’s used as a dress.  I personally think it would look better if they had worn leggings or leather pants to make the look more badass.

STYLING MVP: Yoohyeon

MV-Yoohyeon

SCORE: 8/10

FINAL TALLY:

Song – 17

Lyrics – 10

Line Distribution – 17

Choreography – 8

Center and Formations – 8

Music Video – 18

Styling – 8

TOTAL: 86

CONCLUSION:

I gave “Chase Me” an 88, so it’s good that the score for “Good Night” is very close.  They’ve done the best thing that a rookie group can do with their first comeback: build on their established concept while making it interesting.  The three cornerstones of a promotion (song, dance, and music video) are all quite solid. Consistency is very important for rookie groups.  Many spend months or years trying to find the image that fits them and will bring them recognition. Dreamcatcher is already a step ahead, and now they have to sustain it.

Concepts are so tricky: they help establish a group, but they can also undo one. You have to keep it fresh so that you don’t end up doing the same thing every time, and you have to show enough versatility so that you don’t get boxed into a concept forever.  “Good Night” definitely expanded on “Chase Me” and built an intriguing world.  I’m very satisfied. But it also made me really want to see what else they had to offer.  There are so many directions that Dreamcatcher could go from here –  twisted fairy tales, more occult stuff like tarot or fortunetelling, any manner of supernatural creature, and perhaps even the badass concept.  I really hope they go in a different “dark” direction for the next time.  But they’re very good with what they have already, so for now I don’t mind if they keep playing it safe.

Sources: Youtube, Happy Face Entertainment, M! Countdown (MNET/M2), After School Club Episode 260 (Arirang)

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