Holland in the music video for Neverland.
K-pop is changing thanks to Korea’s openly gay K-pop star Holland, and he’s forcing the conversation on the visibility of LGBT K-pop stars and same-sex love with the music video for his single, “Neverland.”
As reported by Logo’s New Now Next, Holland’s music video focuses on him “riding the emotional currents of romance with another boy.”
After watching the music video and listening to the song, I definitely hear shades of SZA and Frank Ocean—the song’s intimate, diary-esque sound and Holland’s smooth vocals make this song an instant add to any K-pop fan’s rotation.
Holland’s video will hopefully get the accolades and positive attention it deserves; the singer is breaking some serious ground and it’s inspiring to see him make a music video that puts everything up front; there’s no pretense or any coy dancing around of same-sex love. It’s a weird, random quote to pull from, but Jason Mantzoukas from How Did This Get Made explains my feelings about Neverland with one of his usual catchphrases, “there’s no subtext, just text.” It’s cool to see that the kiss between Holland and his on-screen boyfriend isn’t hidden; it’s clear and its declarative. That declarative style will make Holland not just K-pop’s new it-boy—it’ll make him an inspiration to unheard LGBT youth in South Korea.
Holland is not the first openly gay K-pop star; Korean-American singer MRSHLL (aka Marshall Bang) is already making a name for himself. But Holland, who looks younger and appeals to the teen crowd more than MRSHLL might (whose music appeals to an older crowd), has more of an opportunity to channel the feelings of underrepresented teens who want a teen idol who understands their specific issues and longings.
I’m gonna keep an eye on Holland and hope he makes his way to States soon. He needs to be on an American red carpet!