They say good things come in threes, and K-pop strongly supports this statement.
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Many idols have released trilogy albums throughout the years, and some may have done it more than once. Some of the storylines that make up these trilogies have stayed with us despite being launched years ago, and that is due to the spectacular narrative that accompanies these musical releases — ideally in a visual form through album concepts and music videos.
Let’s look back on seven K-pop trilogy storylines that are simply mind-blowing.
1. VIXX – “CONCEPTION”
One does not simply write about trilogies without mentioning VIXX’s “CONCEPTION” series. Famous for their mesmerizing dark concepts, the group takes on Greek mythology in this trio release which can be vividly felt in the concept films. The first deity to be featured in the album of the same name is Zelos, the god of rivalry, jealousy, and zeal. The latter word is actually derived from his name, and you can clearly see the representation in the visuals and lyrics of the title track “Dynamite.” The second installment is “Hades,” named after the god of the underworld, which embodies this mythological creature’s wrath in “Fantasy.” Then “Kratos” comes to conclude the trilogy, visually personifying the deity’s traits of strength and authority in “The Closer” through a rather seductively sinister aura that makes up most of this release’s visuals.
2. GOT7 – “FLIGHT LOG”
GOT7’s music videos always have interesting plots, but this one takes the throne. The releases “Departure,” “Turbulence,” and “Arrival” respectively follow GOT7 in this airborne narrative starting from the very first teaser of the trilogy and continuing through the title tracks “Fly,” “Hard Carry,” and “Never Ever.” Jinyoung, who is the main character, goes back and forth between reality and dream, looking back on memories he once shared with his members. From the jolly road trip to the chaotic flight, all seems to be well until it isn’t. In fact, the crash costs all of the other members their lives — with Mark sacrificing himself to save Jinyoung — and sends the latter into a layered limbo where he is constantly fighting for his life until he is resuscitated. A beautiful analogy is given by the sole survivor where he won’t give up on his life following the loss of his friends just like a bird doesn’t give up flapping its wings until it flies.
3. SHINee – “The Story of Light”
The most powerful stories are based on true events, and this is the story of SHINee. During Jonghyun’s lifetime, the group has previously released a trilogy titled “Misconceptions,” which is comprised of two parts: “Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You” and “Why So Serious? – The Misconceptions of Me.” They were later combined under “The Misconceptions of Us” and addresses one’s misconceptions of idealistic dreams versus the bittersweet reality.
Fast forward four years later, Onew, Key, Minho, and Taemin are mourning the loss of their late friend and bandmate Jonghyun all while commemorating their 10th anniversary as a K-pop group. For that purpose, their new trilogy “The Story of Light” sees the light of day with love, strength, and catharsis being the main themes. Through this series, the boys pay homage to Jonghyun by vowing to carry on their musical journey while carrying him in their thoughts and hearts. “Good Evening,” “I Want You,” and “Our Page” briefly walk us through the story of light.
4. Red Velvet – “The ReVe Festival”
How many days would one need to spend at a festival? A day? Two? With Red Velvet, the third day might be the charm — with a twist in their “The ReVe Festival” trilogy. The girl group takes us on a jolly rollercoaster ride in “Zimzalabim.” With a subtly eerie sound in the background, the track title is a modified Swedish version of conjuring spells such as “Abracadabra” or “Alakazam.” Later, the girls take us on a summer vacation in “Umpah Umpah” that is soon brought to an end by the weather, almost as if they were cursed to stay trapped indoors and keep each other company. Our colorful squad’s light has been dimmed in the final title track “Psycho” where the girls look confused and disheartened, most likely impacted by the two earlier stops they made in the trilogy prior to their mansion visit. It seems like it’s all fun and games until someone casts a spell that goes wrong. But in Red Velvet’s words: “Hey now we’ll be ok, it’s alright! We’re a little weird.”
5. MONSTA X – “THE CLAN”
If you didn’t already know about MONSTA X, you’d probably mistake them for actors because their music videos are solid movie plots. “THE CLAN” trilogy brings out the group’s acting side even more where we see them face various challenges that all highlight the strong bond they share with each other. The first EP “LOST” serves “ALL IN” as the title track, where the septet seems to be in a time of war and rebel against authority while creating their own resistance movement. Moving on to the “GUILTY” EP’s title track “Fighter,” we find out that the members are held hostage in a hospital while captive of their own subconscious, preparing a meticulous plan to break free. Lastly, MONSTA X brings the trilogy to an end in the “Final Chapter” EP with a most “Beautiful” title track where they are still imprisoned one last time, except that they are under the mercy of their own weaknesses. The trilogy sees the recurrence of a purple flower, corresponding to Larkspur, a flowering plant with protective and healing powers according to mythology. This explains its use to formulate an elixir by the boys throughout the trilogy.
6. Stray Kids – “I am”
The “I am” series is a statement that Stray Kids is proud to make on their debut. “I am NOT” is about them refusing to live under society norms. “I am WHO” is about them trying to find themselves in this world and to do things at their own pace. Finally, “I am YOU” is about them acknowledging that they represent every person who seeks to be true to oneself and defies anything that goes against it.
In their order of release, “District 9” shows the members being brainwashed in a facility, but they soon get help from the inside to escape. Taking their getaway bus, they break through some sort of matrix that isolated them from reality. Like the title track suggests, the boys claimed their own district. “My Pace” follows next and calls out the unnecessary comparisons that people make with others instead of staying in their lane and doing their own thing. “I am YOU” brings this series to an end and serves as a message of solidarity, where one sees themselves in another that not only reflects them but also helps them work their problems out. Notice that the glitch is omnipresent in all the representative music videos, thus tracing the continuity of events.
7. BTS – “Love Yourself”
BTS has always tackled the youth concept since their debut with the school trilogy that includes “2 Cool 4 Skool,” “O!RUL8,2?” and “Skool Luv Affair.” But it isn’t until the HYYH era when they took the audience into a three-way path to reflect on “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life.”
A couple of comebacks later, the septet launched another journey with a trilogy adaptation to look into the depths of self-love. From describing what love feels like through “DNA” (“Love Yourself: Her”) to realizing the reality behind it in “Fake Love” (“Love Yourself: Tear”) and all the way to the truth about love that is simply self-love in “IDOL” (“Love Yourself: Answer”), the boys have basically written a guide to navigating one’s feelings and getting to the bottom of it with a self-reassuring resolution. The bonus of this latest trilogy to date is that there is plenty of cinematography to help link the dots of this storyline, namely via the intros’ music videos.
NCT DREAM – “We Young,” “We Go Up,” and “We Boom.”
GFRIEND – High school trilogy: “Season of Glass,” “Flower Bud,” and “Snowflake.”
IZ*ONE – Flower trilogy: “COLOR*IZ,” “HEART*IZ,” and “BLOOM*IZ.”
SEVENTEEN – Boyhood trilogy: “17 Carat,” “Boys Be,” and “Love & Letter.”