If you were to shoot a music video within the borders of Koreatown, what kind of video do you think it would be?
As it turns out, sky is the limit as Koreatown has hosted a surprisingly wide range of artists coming to shoot their videos for quite a few genres of music. Every one of these videos has its own unique story and concept behind it, and each video shows off something different and special about Koreatown and its scenery.
Ariana Grande – Baby I
Almost exactly eight years ago, Ariana Grande shot the music video for “Baby I” from her debut album Yours Truly in Koreatown! According to Billboard, “Grande said that she wanted the “Baby I” video to recall the breeziness of early 90s music videos from TLC and Will Smith,” and the streets of Koreatown lent themselves effortlessly to this concept. This breeziness can be felt particularly in the parking lot dance scenes, which look like they were filmed on Normandie and James M Wood, if you wanted to go dance on the same streets as Ari herself. “Baby I” is certified Platinum by the RIAA, and the music video was even nominated for the World Music Award for Best Video.
Justin Bieber – Intentions ft. QuavoLast year (Feb 2020), Justin Bieber gifted a Koreatown local with a brand-new car so she could make her commute to Northridge every day for school, and the whole surprise was documented in the music video for his song “Intentions.” The young woman in the music video is Bahri Mousa, one of the three women featured from Alexandria House, a non-profit founded by Judy Vaughan that provides housing and safety for women and children. These women joined Justin Bieber and Quavo in sharing their “Intentions” in the music video: “to speak about the injustices and the need for equity,” (Judy); “to help kids who are less fortunate,” (Mousa); “to raise awareness for former foster youths,” (Marcy); and “to give back,” (Angela).
My Chemical Romance – Helena
A staple for any MCR fan, the “Helena” music video is iconic for its beautiful gothic church setting, which turns out to be one of Koreatown’s historic churches, the Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Wilshire Boulevard. The church was constructed in 1929, and has gone on to serve as a filming location for movies such as The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Legally Blonde 2 (2003), and John Wick (2014). Amassing 140 million views, the “Helena” music video was nominated for multiple 2005 MTV awards, and the album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge went on to be certified Gold in the US.
Winner – Really Really
Every Koreatown local K-pop fan would be able to point out all the filming locations right away in this music video! With the help of some post-production editing, the music video utilized the unique architecture of the Chase Bank and the Pacific City Bank on Wilshire Blvd between Serrano and Oxford. The parking lot and rooftop scenes also look quite like the nearby parking structure for Ralphs and the Wiltern. This song was and still is an essential K-pop hit, as it reached #3 on Billboard’s World Digital Songs Sales Chart, and becoming the best-selling K-pop song in America during the week of its release according to Billboard.