Watching Lee Gi-kwang’s latest music video for his digital single, “Don’t Close Your Eyes” (feat. rapper Kid Milli) is, in many ways, a revelation. Sure, the lead singer and main dancer of the iconic K-pop boy band Highlight (formerly Beast) has had solo outings in the past, but it can be argued that this title track from his solo single album “I” might be his best yet.
Because he has often been the prime eye candy of Beast/Highlight (what in Korean English would be known as “the visual”), Gi-kwang’s songwriting skills have always been underestimated. But in the fancy dance tracks he’s made for his group such as “Dangerous” and “It’s You,” he’s proven again and again he’s no “himbo.” This is reaffirmed in “Don’t Close Your Eyes.”
But since the record is a valedictory—Gi-kwang is set to join leader Yoon Doo-joon and main vocalist Yang Yo-seob in military enlistment next month and they will be gone for two years—the MV serves up more than the usual dose of his “visuals.”
In full display is Gi-kwang’s exotic features—large Oriental eyes, thick eyelashes, classic nose, prominent chin, and full, plump lips—that have landed him in Hong Kong-based British I-Magazine’s survey of Asian stylists and photographers as “No. 1 Male Asian Celebrity Face,” beating Lee Dong-wook, Gong Yoo, Jackson Wang, Daniel Kang, and Kim Myung-soo, He also gets to exhibit his fine physique and smooth dancing, particularly in the dance sequences.
The choreography seems to pay tribute to Michael Jackson on his 10th death anniversary this year (note the black sequined gloves) and Korean superstar Rain, an MJ fan.
Obviously, comparisons to other famous pop artists cannot be avoided but would it be blasphemous to say that Gi-kwang the individual act might actually be at par with them? And who’s to say that if he decides to go solo full time, he might just become an even bigger global star?
The signs are there. In the worldwide iTunes album chart last week, the record debuted at number 17, the highest Korean act in the list. Lee Gi-kwang is great as a singer, dancer, and songwriter and “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” with its smooth R&B vibe to it, is proof of that. —CONTRIBUTED