We know makeup doesn’t go unnoticed when it comes to K-pop, but it does sometimes get overlooked when talking about the entirety of production. Make-up, much like the costume and the staging of a set, plays a very important part in creating a cohesive piece of performance. Although it may seem over-analytical — more often than not — there is an entire concept hidden behind the choice of an eyeshadow shade, blush, or even the lift of a lash. To help break down the importance of makeup in production, we’ve decided to use NCT 127’s “Chain” music video as an example.
Let’s start with the title and how the music video focuses on drawing inspiration from related props and settings. On a literal level, the production has followed the basis of the industrial uses of chains, setting many shots in what looks like a workshop. The lyrics speak of “breaking down walls”, creating a bold and powerful setting for the looks to be based on, much like the power suits that the members wear when working with the tools. Although not all shots follow this setting, it’s a good beginning for commenting on a strong concept.
The colors most prominent within these shots (being metallic reds, golds, and coppers, found in the power tools) are mimicked in the shadows used for each member. These tonal couples found within the set and makeup keep the production from feeling disjointed, and from a design perspective, hold the production together. The shades are reflective of both the song’s title and the given factory-style concept.
In general, the makeup for most of the dimly-lit shots is darker around the eyes, with a smoky liner and a metallic finish, matching not only the set and lighting but also the black costumes. However, there are small additions to member’s makeup for varying shots, that sit outside of the large workshop backdrop. When the setting changes to both the silver-lined walls and to the LED screen, the member’s makeup changes alongside it. NCTzens may notice Jaehyun’s subtle glitter liner, which adds a softer, more magical touch to the almost-grungy makeup — relating closely to the lyrics, “Make a wish, get me started it.” The silver-white sparkle lifting the makeup to match the set and costume change, Jaehyun now wearing a white sleeveless tee and rolled jeans — much more playful compared to the harsh black and layered outfits he wears earlier. Similarly, leader Taeyong sports flat sequins under his eyes, again lifting his deep, metallic, copper eyeshadow and helping the look to match the cooler lighting of the new settings.
Another honorable mention, for a member with extra sparkle, is Yuta and his gorgeous red glitter brow. Making only small appearances, the darker glitter, compared to that of Jaehyun and Taeyong’s lighter twinkles, matches Yuta’s outfit change to a black tank top. This is a great example of how the makeup used changes with both the set and costume. Although following the addition used for the shot changes, it still holds to the dark colors of his top. Similarly, NCTzens may notice Mark’s red shadow, which is found within the same look as his ‘to Tokyo’ makeup. Compared to other members within this setting and its corresponding outfits, Mark’s red shadow is much deeper than that of the others. The choice may have been made to use a deeper red tone following his black tank top, and chunky, banded accessories.
Possibly the most noticeable makeup choice of the entire music video, are the words written on each member’s body. Most NCTzen would relate the music video’s makeup to these given words — “from Seoul to Tokyo.” Visually speaking, these words continue the proposed industrial concept, as they have been made to look “sooty”, “oily” or “dirty”, using smudge tails and dark lettering. However, it is when you further inspect the choice of wording that the makeup becomes more interesting. The lyrics mention “chain reaction”, with a chain being made of multiple individual links that hold each other together. The most direct interpretation is that “from Seoul to Tokyo” is one of the effects of 127. Starting from Seoul to the world, as their name indicates, spreading through different cities like a chain reaction. It possibly can be hinting towards the idea that all the members — from all over the world — hold the group together, creating a global team, much like the links in a chain.
For more NCT beauty content, check out the nails of the Neos here!