Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: Brown Eyed Girls–“Cleansing Cream”

The Brown Eyed Girls present fans with a case of good ol’ sisterly love and homicidal jealously.

Did you like the song?
“Cleansing Cream” is the follow-up track to “Sixth Sense,” which I previously reviewed. This song and the way BEG sings it really reminded me of the vocalist Jinsil in Tablo’s “Bad.” The breathy lyrics give the song a kind of light, airy feel, but they come at a relatively fast pace to create a powerful and driving rhythm. The overall effect makes the song haunting and unsettling. The image it brought to my mind is something like a beautiful bird fluttering in a panic around its cage. It’s a very interesting song.

Brown Eyed Girls BEG Cleansing Cream members Gain Jea Miryo Narsha

Ga-in, Jea, Miryo, and Narsha.

What was your favorite part of the song?
I really liked Miryo’s raps, as I usually do, and also this crescendo to the chorus.

Does the English make you want to rip your eardrums out?
I love Miryo’s English! “Have you ever been in love? / Have you ever really loved?” Other than that, there’s the line “Oh my honey, honey, baby,” also fine. Good job, ladies!

Brown Eyed Girls BEG members Gain Jea Miryo Narsha

Ga-in, Jea, Miryo, and Narsha.

Did you like the video?
It seems to be a common trop, not just in music videos but in many forms of storytelling, to begin with the last scene and then flash back for the majority of the time to show the way things got there. It’s a director’s/scriptwriter’s way of assuring the audience that something exciting is coming if they just patiently slog through other material first. Just like any trope, it’s been executed both brilliantly and not so well. In this case, the “exciting” thing is just a girl being pushed into a bathtub, which…yeah, is not that exciting. So maybe they could have chosen a different opening scene.

Anyway, the video matches the tone of the song: there’s a persistent feeling of wrongness about it that makes it deliciously disturbing. I do have to say that even though I thought the main actresses (Lee Som as the main character and Han Bo Bae as her blind sister) did a phenomenal job, I was disappointed that none of the Brown Eyed Girls—who have repeatedly proven themselves to be perfectly competent actresses—were in the video. I guess they were short on time filming “Sixth Sense.”

Was there a storyline? If so, did it make sense?
The literal interpretation:
This woman, played by Lee Som, and her husband live together with the woman’s blind (? I think? Though that doesn’t explain why she puts a tie over her eyes) younger sister, played by Han Bo Bae. (In addition to being blind, the sister might also have some other kind of developmental disability; the music video isn’t quite clear on this.) One day, the blind sister gets bored and starts being awkward, sliding up into bed with the woman and touching her husband’s face while they sleep.

Brown Eyed Girls Cleansing Cream meaning screenshot

I’d be really freaked out by people touching me in my sleep, too.

The woman is understandably alarmed, but I like that she doesn’t immediately yell at her sister. Instead, she kind of watches her and broods.

Brown Eyed Girls Cleansing Cream meaning screenshot


She amasses evidence in her mind that her sister is trying to, what, usurp her marriage? Flirt with her husband? Take over the woman’s life? The fact that her husband seems to allow the little touches make it worse for the woman. She stays up late at night, and her sister wanders like a ghost outside of their room. Her sister plays in the closet and rubs her face against their clothes. Then her sister gets some makeup and tries to put it on.

Brown Eyed Girls Cleansing Cream meaning screenshot

The operative word there being “tries.”

And for the woman it’s the last straw. It’s like her sister is flaunting how womanly, how sexy and desirable, she could be, like she’s trying to take over the woman’s place—and the woman just snaps. She drags her struggling sister to the bathroom, locks the door, and shoves her in the shower. And when that’s not enough to get the makeup off, she dumps her in the bathtub (which her husband had previously filled for no apparent reason).

Brown Eyed Girls Cleansing Cream meaning screenshot

Bath time is so much fun!

To me, it seems like there’s a moment when the woman is seriously considering drowning her sister, but others may not see that. At any rate, her sister puts her hand on her arm, which pulls the woman back to reality, and she collapses back onto the floor, looking shellshocked. The End.
The symbolic interpretation—one of many, I’m sure:
The woman and her husband have recently broken up, but she still feels like she’s living with a memory of him. She can’t get over him and move on, no matter how hard she tries. The “sister” character is a representation of how the woman feels on the inside: blindly trying to deal with her mixed emotions in a childlike way while still cherishing her memories of him (as represented by her inner self still touching him and his things).

Brown Eyed Girls Cleansing Cream meaning screenshot

She was clearly just on the lookout for a portal to Narnia.

In the end, the two “sides” of herself battle it out but can’t come to any sort of conclusion. I believe the lyrics tend to support this one (the singer is asking her friend why she can’t forget the man with whom she has just gone through a difficult breakup).
There are also lots of possible interpretations regarding makeup, like maybe the woman wants to be clean and pure like her inner self, while her inner self wants to grow up and wear makeup, and she has to try to come to terms with these conflicting sides of herself.

Was the dance cool and distinctive?
No dance, alas. BEG was probably too busy with the choreography for “Sixth Sense.”

Brown Eyed Girls BEG members Gain Jea Miryo Narsha

Ga-in, Jea, Miryo, and Narsha.

Do the members look good?
The Brown Eyed Girls are not in this. However, the main couple looks good, and the blind sister looks convincingly childlike. I’d suggest she get a new makeup artist, though.

Which member stood out the most?
I’m going to have to give it to Lee Som, who plays the conflicted main character. I could really feel her confusion/jealousy at her situation.

Brown Eyed Girls BEG Cleansing Cream meaning Lee Som

Lee Som.

Do you like it enough to buy the song?
No, unfortunately. If I did, I think that whenever I heard this song, I would think of the music video and be a little creeped out.

Any ending thoughts?
Man, how awesome are the Brown Eyed Girls at putting out two music videos with interesting storylines and so many possible interpretations in such a short timeframe?

Boyfriend’s one-liner:
“Note to self: putting makeup on incorrectly in Korea is a drowning offense.”

Thanks for reading! Please comment, subscribe and request a review if you’d like. :)


  1. You gotta hand it to the Brown Eyed Girls. They make good songs and MVs with a lot of symbolism. I like "Sixth Sense" better than this one; the whole vid creeped me out too much. O_O But I liked the song and its symbolism with the wife and her blind sister. Maybe other idols should take their MVs after these ladies? *cough-SM-cough*

  2. Seriously!!! I wish more artists would put the time and thought that BEG clearly does into their music videos. Yeah, this video was pretty creepy, though. I just wish BEG could have acted in it, too. Maybe they wanted "real" actresses, but I'm confident BEG could have done it well!

  3. I wondered why the husband filled the bath...

  4. But if you look at the lyrics and the music video, it's like lyrics are the younger sister's POV while the video is the older sister's POV. And yes, the sister is blind, lol (I mean, the make-up and the way she walked). However, I don't think she was trying to drown her sister, as she was pulling her up when she pushed her down- she just wanted to get the make up off. It's like the sisters were actually the same person :P.

  5. Yeah, it sounds like you're a fan of one of the symbolic interpretations. It's hard to know what the artists really intended from just the lyrics and video, especially when there are lots of different interpretations. :)

  6. Yeah, me, too! Like, wouldn't it get cold?!