There does not seem to be a whole lot of ways left to innovate on the cute concept to make it feel fresh other than to subvert it à la Pungdeng-E’s “Cotton Candy” or wait until it can be branded as retro like k-pop circa, 2008. This makes the ‘quirky cute’ of groups like Orange Caramel the sort of last frontier of cute. Yet despite Orange Caramel’s success with their concept, they have not sparked some sort of trend akin to that of the current trend of sexy concepts. Instead groups continue to do cute as they have always done it, aiming to build appeal on familiarity and comfortableness This holds for those in the young, cute, female soloist camp as well, who despite themselves being something of a novelty, have stuck to the traditional cute concept, as if audiences would find too much newness all at once off-putting.
With the release of her digital single, “Red Lie” though, rookie and young and cute female soloist, HEYNE appears to be trying her hand at her own brand of quirky cute. But it is not so much the song itself, which is your usual song about moving on after a betrayal from a boyfriend, as the video where the offbeat nature really shines. The video is shot in a mix of one-shot camerawork, a continuous narrative style, and no division of space, meaning one scene regularly bleeds into another and HEYNE often appears simultaneously in a single shot. While one HEYNE dances or carries a bushel of balloons or an umbrella, another, helped by men in Tyvek suits, is meting out punishment of bouncy balls and squeaky hammers to the man who has betrayed her, easily identifiable by the Pinocchio nose — proof of his ‘crime’ — that he wears. Who also happens to be a literal blockhead, as in his head is literally a block with a face built of basic geometric forms: of two circles for eyes, a line for a mouth and another for an eyebrow, and a solid block of color for his hair.
It is all just so ridiculous! Of course it is in the best possible way. Here the quirkiness does not shock or disgust, although it may potentially confuse, but much like her zany off-stage persona that has earned her a cult following among international fans, it endears. It keeps her cuteness from feeling too generic or performed, but gives it character and the sense that HEYNE has made it her own. It is a cute concept made for and according to HEYNE.