If you add in her sounds, her faces number way more than five. This is not strange, to be a variety; but art and commerce and branding often constrain acts to only a few concepts, as does a focus on what you're considered best at; e.g., "I am the underground speed rapper" or "I have switched to an elegant and sexy image." Whereas E.via's chosen to vary and multiply her constraints, rather than constraining herself to a few.*
She's promoted herself with five videos that I know of, each drastically different from the others. What they share is a tendency to go meta, to be about image making and the choices facing her ("image" in the broad sense of "public image," not just "what I look like" or "the way the video shot is framed").
She starts in cutie-pie schoolgirl costume, taking on a succession of idol-girl poses as her crew show up and look at her in disgust. Then she laughs it off, leaves the idol set behind (a billboard in the sky), dances off to the real rap, none of this pop nonsense. But note her colorful shirts, and at the idol-parody start, the bright graffiti wall behind her, the colors then reflecting into the glass of the high rises as she abandons idol and goes into the song itself. And in the starting parody, she's not dancing to idol-style music but to her own composition: dreamy, hazy, superimposed sounds. Premonition of the finger-painting color creativity of future videos.
[EDIT: I meant to point out here that the EP that this vid supports (E.via a.k.a. Happy E.vil) is loaded with mood pieces, interludes, skits, and airchecks, so it's like a soundscape from which tracks and raps emerge. To break it down, the EP is 42 minutes, of which 15 minutes are five fairly focused rap tracks or songs, another 14 minutes are alternate versions of four of these, another 11 minutes are four of what I'll call "mood pieces" that contain some speaking, rapping, and singing within the instrumentals and sound effects (including "Hands And Feet," with which she begins the "Hey" video), and another 4 minutes are airchecks, radio IDs, radio patter, and skits. All of these are interspersed with one another, of course. This set the tone for EPs to come, though the later are shorter.]
"Shake!" Now she's full-scale cute, in sight and sound; but expanding on her rep for dirtyrap, she makes a tit-and-tush vid where her own sexiness is a factor but she's the one holding the megaphone and directing the dancers to shake their butts. So she's the master of ceremonies: models dancing while embedded in fashion-mag graphics, E.via in charge. I've written about this before: she's having cake and eating cake, critiquing the sex sell while using the sex to sell.
"Pick Up! U!"
A.k.a. Pikachu. Combines comic book, gossip rag, and Terry Gilliam. Sound is kiddie-pop, but that doesn't mean the lyrics shun the pick-up scene. (I don't know, not finding a translation; but given where her lyrics trend...) Stone statues in the fore, E.via's a fairy godmother, tapping with her wand and bringing dancers to life.
"Crazy Fate" a.k.a. "Insanity Love"
The scorched earth of a desolating breakup. "Crazy" and "insanity" here have zero to do with fun. "There's nothing to look forward to these days except TV dramas." (Pop!Gasa's English translation.) Hair up, and severe and disturbing, she's no longer the impish art sprite of her previous vids; today she's the elegant art bitch, Capital-A Artist. But this approach was on the edge of her repertoire from the get-go, all those moods and interludes, restless sounds from the margins. "Crazy Fate" is actually my least favorite on the generally excellent and arty E.viagradation Part 1. (Black & Red). The other tracks are moods and sounds; this one's a collaboration with a real singer to produce a real singer-and-melody song, which is where, throughout her oeuvre, she's tended to go blah. That's relatively speaking, since I wouldn't call this blah.**
"I Know How To Play A Little"
And she leaps into the International Goofball Dance (see the Austral-Romanian Empire), the chorus a take-off on you-know-what, and E.via back to catchy and bratty. The record-label (Dline Art Media) is pushing a UCC video (user-created content). E.via's a brief totem at the start. Then the funny fanboys take over, taking her invitation to shake to include them. Imps and sprites come in all shapes and sizes.
Not necessarily relevant to this discussion, but something that I hope to post about: E.via's not only an art-and-music hero, she's a human-being hero too. As far as I know, she and former After School member Kahi have been the only current music performers of any stature anywhere to speak out against the Internet mob's attack on T-ara. I don't totally know how to interpret what E.via wrote, which of course I only know from translation. But she spoke of a witch-hunt. And she stood tall.
*That is, she uses a range of forms and styles (all of which make certain demands, which is to say impose constraints that one has to work with), but doesn't constrain herself to only the forms and styles (i.e., constraints) that she's used previously.
**But being a wiseass, I do recall Tom Lehrer's impassioned declaration: "My heart is in my hand.... Yeccch!"
[UPDATE: Turns out she has six video faces; see the comment thread.]
- The Five Faces Of E.via