Monday, June 2, 2014

"That's Not Me" - Aaron Yan & Tia Li Music Video

As you may know, I have been helping blog over at Soju-Like-KDramas where my friends, Firnlambe and Wendilynn, and I have been recapping the Taiwanese drama "Fall In Love With Me" Not to long after the show started airing they released a music video for the main song and it was okay...nothing too spectacular about it but then they released a new version....and it blew me away. Read More to find out why...

So, it's imperative that you watch the music video before I start discussing it--I don't want to give away any spoilers or potentially wreck the music video with my comments before take the 5:40 minutes it takes to watch the music video and then continue reading. I's a long music video but it's well worth it.

Okay...finished? Amazing, right?

My Comments

Blew my mind away. First off, if you don't speak Chinese--like I don't--you're forced to Find A Translation for the music like I did. I fell in love with the song when the drama first started so I had already liked the song but not quite enough to look up the lyrics, I just liked how well the vocals went with the music then Wendilynn over at Kimchi Greyduck forwarded the video to me and told me to watch it. Best.Choice.Ever. 
For those of you who may not have caught it or, if you're like me, it takes a couple views to really see the concept played out, I'll just break it down for you. In the beginning, Aaron Yan and Tia Li (who are the main actors in Fall In Love With Me) are two stage actors preparing to go on stage. The part of the music video that actually contains the singing, is everything they do on stage. Then, the curtain lowers and the song continues but they go back to being their real selves. 
Now that we've got a handle on that, I'm going to jump right in and say wow...Aaron was born to be an actor. But more than that, whoever wrote the script for this music video should receive some kind of an award! Furthermore, the camera director (Shockley Huang) and/or cinematographer should also received some kind of award-like acknowledgement because damn.... 

It's difficult to talk about this kind of controversial subject because for some, their knee jerk reaction will be disgust. Aaron's character's actions is absolutely abhorrent and in real life my reaction would be: "Run. Wherever and whenever you can, just run. This man is dangerous." However, knowing it isn't real life gives me the ability to look at it artistically. I had a very "Phantom of the Opera" reaction to it. I took pity on Aaron's character and understood the desperation one feels when a relationship ends and they simply aren't ready for it to be over. They want to hope that they can make it work, so much so that they make themselves believe it could work if the other person just lets them fix it. The mentality of "I can do better if you just give me a chance" is very evident throughout the entire music video.

At first I didn't understand the beginning when the actors share that intense gaze with each other before going onstage. However, after some serious thought, I've come to a conclusion. My interpretation is that these two characters in the music video have fallen in love but under some shameful circumstances. It's universally unacceptable to kidnap a woman, tie her up and basically turn her into a living mannequin. Anyone's normal reaction would be disgust but for these two to fall in love while acting out this play, people would look negatively at them and think "How could you like that? How could you fall in love under those circumstances?" 

It's a lot like when actors and actresses start dating after they play a romantic couple and you wonder if they are really in love or if what they feel are leftover remnants of their roles--that kind of thing. 

The small look of fear on his face had me thinking it was fear of him at first but it doesn't really show up until after he's walked passed her. Then I realized it wasn't fear of him but fear of their love being seen by others. This is my interpretation, I'd love to hear ours in the comments below. 

The song itself talks about someone who has lost someone and is suffering from a broken heart. The song could really be taken from any point of view (i.e. Man or Woman) but since it's a male singing the song, I just automatically associated the narrator of the song/lyrics is male referring to a female. Take it how you wish. So the man is talking about having lost his woman and continuing to live his life although he does things that he wouldn't normally do. The main theme of the song is "This isn't me, I'm not this weak." How does that correlate with the music video?

In the music video, Aaron opens up a suitcase and sitting nice and neat inside is a folded up Tia Li. He pulls her out o the suitcase and literally ties her to the bed so she can't leave. It becomes very clear, very quickly that this man is crazy.  We get the sense that he loves this woman so long as she stays with him because obviously, life without her is too hard. He doesn't ever hurt her, he just can't stand the thought of her leaving him. 

The lyrics are powerful, not so much in the words specifically but in the feeling the writer attempts to provoke. It's like the old saying "Love is a crazy thing" and that's exactly what the writer is trying to get across. We all like to believe that there aren't lines we'd cross but each of us has a weakness and for this's the love he has for this woman.

The overall feeling of the music video is chilling and beautiful and normally those two feelings don't go together but when you get a good director and good cinematographer, you can do it just right. Obviously, what he's doing is wrong, and it's crazy but you also get the feeling that he loves her.   Now granted, there will be naysayers saying "That's not love." Well, of course it is! It's love.........just not the healthy kind. It's not the kind of love you'd wish for your daughter but does that make it any less a form of love? In the beginning, it's almost like he doesn't realize he's crazy until he finds the music box--but more on that later.

All of his movements are very precise and calculated. The .gif above makes it look like he's jerking her face but it's simply an effect of the .gif itself and result of trying to get it all to fit. 

However, as is human nature to run from things that scare us, Tia Li's character starts to rebel.

The last two scenes had me absolutely torn in two. On one side, I felt genuine panic for Tia Li's character. The way he was treating her gently, for me, it proved just how fragile his mind truly was. It was like, as long as Tia Li did what he wanted, he'd treat her nicely and as we can clearly see in the last image, once she started to rebel, you begin to see Aaron's character's mind begin to break. On the other hand, I was impressed with both scenes because the acting was phenomenal. Aaron looks and convincingly seems crazy and Tia Li's responses to him looks like genuine fear and disbelief. 

The camera angles and lighting also helped to make the last two scenes look beautifully dark. When Tia Li looks at the camera before looking at Aaron is almost like a plea for help. And when she pulls away from the hairbrush and the lights go out, it allows the audience to impose their own idea of what happened next rather than knowing what happened next. It's all open to interpretation. 

Eventually she does break free and once again, the lighting is amazing. Everything after this point, to me, is the turning point. Aaron's character's mind finally snaps at the knowledge that she truly doesn't want to be with him. No matter how much he "tried" to change, or "tried" to make things works, this is the point where he realizes it's all for naught. Many people who've loved and lost can relate to this feeling. It's the utter despair that what you had is forever lost to you and it does kind of make you go a little crazy--if you loved hard enough. This is the limbo of "What ifs" and "Could haves" that are the most painful. 

This next part is the part that sings true with the lyrics themselves. And proved to be the most interesting for me. Up to this point, it was like he hadn't realized he was crazy, he was just trying to love her and take care of her. But as soon as he hears the music come from the music box, it was a startling realization for him and he was reminded what real love was. "That's not me, I'm not this weak." It was like he realized what he'd been doing.

And it all came down to this scene...

I like that the music box takes on the meaning of not only his saving grace but also his apology. And clearly, Tia Li's character is no longer afraid of him. I mean...I'd still be a little leery of him but he doesn't seem overall threatening any more.

I know..I know what you're waiting for now....fine....

I like this scene for two reasons; 1) I'm a female and can very much appreciate Aaron's nakedness but more importantly 2) Symbolically speaking, he's washing way his play persona and it's almost like he's scared of how real the play was to him. He feels the scratches on his face--which I'm assuming shouldn't have happened because it was a play--and understands just how real the whole situation was for both him and Tia Li.

And then the end scene. Which only fuels my theory that these two are in love and feel ashamed for falling in love under such...beautifully dark circumstances.

The acting was amazing on both these actor's parts; you could see the emotion--so much of it in fact--that it really guided me through the emotions rather than leaving it up to me to feel whatever came to mind. It thoroughly brought me into the story and engaged me until the very end.

And the story...Aaron's character was creepy as hell, he was crazy as hell, actually and Tia Li's reactions to it felt very real even if they weren't what I'd be doing in that situation but that's mostly cause I'm a fighter so I'd be fighting from the get-go. But the fact that this was a complete story told in less than six minutes without dialogue is what takes my breath away. Not all writers have this ability and it always amazes me when I come across one that can.

The lighting, direction, and the imagery was stunning. I like how the stage was set--old Victorian style props, right down to the hanging birdhouses. I love that this music video was shot in muted color saturation to give it a more "old time", forbidden feel and dramatic visual.

I absolutely loved the music video.

These were my thoughts on the "That's Not Me" Music video and I am very interested on hearing your take as well, so please feel free to comment in the section below.


  1. I actually stumbled across this music video today and fell in love it. Like you, I also watched it quite a bit of times before I could understand the concept completely. First time through, I was puzzled as to the beginning and the end, and was reminded of the Stockholm syndrome. In this case though, I don't think she "fell" for him. Perhaps they were lovers before, but for him to go so far as to kidnap her and hold her against her will...there definitely exists no love any longer.

    I love love love the scene where he puts the lipstick on her and her eyes just flick to his face, and the end part where they're surrounded by apples. I can't say why, but those two scenes spoke to me and grabbed my attention. My only confusion of this video remains to be the magician scene (where Aaron is decked out in red, and the white hands are surrounding his body). I think...maybe the hands are what's pulling him/controlling him to be not himself. Just my two cents.

    Overall, it's a very well done video, and I full-heartedly agree with you the greatness of it :)

    1. The lipstick scene spoke to me as well, it was beautifully done--as far as camera angle and her acting--looking at the camera and then at him, was powerful, I thought. The other scene that spoke to me was the scene at the end where they're meeting as lovers again and she goes to touch his face, almost as if she's apologizing for hurting him during their acting. I loved the music video. As far as the red coat/hands scenes, Yeah I had no clue either. That still boggles me. lol Thank you for your comment!

  2. Stumbled upon your blog and I love your breakdown and analysis of the video! Gave me goosebumps especially at the part the shower is a symbol of washing away his play persona. One thing is I still can't figure out the red suit and hands surrounding him part i suppose to mean, was it really neccessary? The scene seem kinda awkward to me HAHA I kinda laughed at Aaron wearing the stocking (??) thingy on his face though.. must have been difficult to wear that thing and sing!

    1. Thank you! I couldnt figure out the red suit/hand/netting thing either so I didnt even trybto analyze that. Lol my best guess is that the director tried to show just how "crazy" Aaron's character was and having netting over my face while I tried to sing would drive me crazy too! I like MVs like this because they make you think and feel rather than seeing a series of images played out before you. Im glad you liked my post!