Why I’ve Been Pressing the Repeat Button on Orange Caramel’s Catallena

Oh my, she’s so great, I’ve fallen for her
Even as a girl, I can see she’s so great

어머머머 멋있어 반했어
어쩜 같은 여자끼리 봐도 참 멋있어


I’ve always had mixed feelings about Orange Caramel. As an After School fan, it would be sacrilegious not to show support for their sub-group. But I tend not to be a fan of in-your-face cutesy K-pop concepts. OCa is something else again, with their humongous ribbons, big skirts and costumes that look like expensive Halloween outfits.

Catallena is their latest song. It’s difficult to understand the song without reading the English lyrics and watching the MV several times. OCa themselves say little to explain it, except that “Catallena” (represented by comedian Kim Dae Sung, no less) refers to a girl who is picky and snooty, but who everyone wants to be with anyway. The metaphor used to express this tension is, in true funky OCa style, a sushi belt.

I didn’t immediately fall in love with the video. But I kept replaying it because the humour, irony and exaggeration in the song provided something for my mind to chew on.

Some have suggested that the sushi belt is a metaphor for the heavily saturated k-pop industry, where potential stars are fished out from a sea of eager teenagers, and comeback line-ups come in waves to impatient critics who are quick to stamp a value on them. The girls look with envy at more popular stars, yet can’t help but feel drawn to them at the same time.

For me personally, the song explores that ambiguous feeling we can have for our same-sex counterparts who we are simultaneously drawn to and repelled by. For most of us, I think, our Catallenas don’t disappear after high school. And with distinctive, intelligent and entertaining imagery, the song vividly expresses that that curious tension that is a mix of admiration and disappointment, the wanting to be like and wanting to be different.

Good job, I’ll give you 100 points

참 잘했어요 100점 만점 주고파


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