Sibling duo Akdong Musician (AKMU) does a number on our feelings with their beautiful 2014 music video, ‘Melted’.
Singers Lee Chan-Hyuk and Lee Su-Hyun have been making music since 2014. They have a unique style that is reflected in the cute, heartfelt and sometimes heartbreaking nature of their songs. AKMU’s “Melted” makes a bold statement by showing the best and worst of people through the innocence of a camera lens.
A piano and stringed instruments bring in the opening shot with a man standing in his office looking out over the skyline of a city. In the next scene, viewers see a different man driving along a mountain road. He stops to pick up a young hitchhiker. As they drive along, the man glances repeatedly in his rear-view mirror. The hitchhiking boy, perhaps a teenager, sits in the back of the car among several boxes. He is smiling and taking pictures with a vintage camera that he cradles like something precious. He begins peeking into the boxes around him and when he goes to take a picture of what’s inside, the driver becomes angry and makes him get out, throwing his bag at his feet on the side of the road.
The boy continues on, undeterred, and walks to a park. There, he sees to homeless men fighting over garbage. Two mothers, notably of different ethnicity, yell at each other while their confused looking sons stand beside them.
A bike messenger delivering balloons glowers dismally at his cargo. The boy walks into a small convenience store and the thin-lipped clerk, tapping away at a calculator, watches him suspiciously until the boy buys two rolls of film and a banana instead of a sweet snack. He only has enough change to pay and the clerk doesn’t look pleased.
The boy appears to have made a friend after he sees a woman sitting in her car, looking sad. He snaps a picture of her and she brightens up when she sees. He gets into the car with the woman and she puts on lipstick, striking poses for more pictures. Then, they drive off together … to a bar. We see the young man passed out at the bar with empty glasses around him while the bartender glares at rowdy patrons. The woman is flirting with a man and soon takes off with him, leaving her passenger behind. The young man wakes up as she is leaving and chases after her car. She leaves him in the dust. The bartender comes outside presumably to make the young man pay for the drinks. The younger man appears to protest and the bartender proceeds to beat him up, breaking his camera in the process, and leaves him sitting on the ground, looking defeated.
In the next scene, we see the young man, his face bruised and battered, sitting in a crowded police station. A rough looking man is pushed through in handcuffs and a scantily clad woman argues angrily with officers. The young man tries to speak to a police woman but she stops him with a hand in front of his face, too busy to listen.
The scene cuts to an empty road similar to the one pictured at the beginning of the video. The young man is walking along the road and his posture radiates defeat. His shoulders are slumped and his arms hang at his sides. He only brightens when he sees a German Shepherd next to a trailer off the road. He smiles at the dog and holds out his hand to pet it as he approaches it. Immediately, the dog begins snarling and barking. The young man recoils … and then he gets angry. The music stops and he begins yelling and screaming at the dog until it backs off.
The door of the trailer opens and we see a man holding a crowbar, which he lowers upon seeing the state of the young man. The trailer resident takes him in and gives him a blanket and something warm to drink. He fixes the camera and we see both of them smiling.
The video cuts to the back of a man standing in an office, dressed sharply in a business suit and looking out over a skyline. He is holding a drink in his hand and as the video ends, he puts the glass down next to a vintage camera.
This music video will certainly do a number on a viewer’s emotions. Chan-Hyuk and Su-hyun harmonize flawlessly throughout the song. Their voices convey sad sweetness that suits ‘Melted’ perfectly. In the lyrics, Su-Hyun repeatedly asks “Why are they so cold?”, perhaps referring to the hearts of the people.
The video shots of the older man at the beginning and the end imply that he is the boy, now an adult, and perhaps that his experiences shaped the person he became. The clear and purposeful cinematography is a beautiful method of story-telling. The story of the boy with the camera may be one that viewers can relate to. His view of the world became darker and darker when he saw that the world outside of his camera lens is not necessarily a pretty one. However, the kindness of one stranger can make all the difference.
Want to hear more? Check out the latest from AKMU on their YouTube page.