Dreamcatcher’s Road To Utopia Goes Through Cyberpunk And An Eventful Fourth Anniversary

K-Pop — Dreamcatcher Recall

Dreamcatcher’s road to a January 2021 comeback began this week, along with a boatload of other news that marked their fourth year together.

Dreamcatcher’s “Cyberpunk” group image for Road to Utopia. Instagram credit: hf_dreamcatcher

Note: A quick reminder that Dreamcatcher is currently in the running for an award in the annual Seoul Music Awards! You can vote by following this guide on using the SMA app to vote for Dreamcatcher in the Main (Bonsang) category.

It’s no surprise that these recaps are going to basically be dominated with pre-comeback news about Dreamcatcher’s upcoming 6th mini-album, “Dystopia: Road to Utopia” all the way till the album drops on the 26th of January, but I have a feeling my readers aren’t going to have any problems re-living all the exciting stuff that shows up on what will no doubt be another great Dreamcatcher album. That said, it definitely was not the only bit of news that came out of Insomnias’ favorite hard-working girl group, nor will it be the last.

Dreamcatcher’s pre-comeback schedule for Road to Utopia: Twitter credit: hf_dreamcatcher

As is tradition, we get to see all the things fans get teased with in advance of the album release. The posting of the schedule also revealed the title of the album, “Dystopia: Road to Utopia”, a fact that was subtly spoiled by JiU and SuA in last year’s Esquire Korea and e.L.e interviews, respectively. This, combined with the ancient Greek-style motif of the schedule posting, set off a firestorm of speculation about what kind of title track we could be hearing or story we could be seeing.

My personal theory, based on last week’s different-colored eye teaser image, is that we’re going to see something based on the eyes, with a tie-back to Greek mythology’s story about Iris, messenger of the gods, and personification of the rainbow. The story basically explains why Iris ensured humans have different colored eyes, and irises are, of course, that part of the eye that has color. The condition for different-colored eyes is also called “Heterochromia iridum”. Until this past week’s fourth anniversary vlive, I was convinced the title track would be called “Iris” or “Iridum”, but a potentially unintentional spoiler by Queen of Spoilers Yoohyeon may have just dashed that theory to the side (more on that later).

SuA in the “Cyberpunk” individual teasers. Instagram credit: hf_dreamcatcher

This week’s pre-comeback media was all about individual and group teasers, and fans weren’t disappointed. The three individual sets appear to match three distinct aesthetics — one of a dystopian “Cyberpunk” style, one of a more beautiful and idyllic “Utopia” style, and the last set depicting “The End”, with Dreamcatcher in suits around a table with slightly unnerving imagery involving IVs filled with roses and blue blood.

Dreamcatcher’s “The End” group image for Road to Utopia. Instagram credit: hf_dreamcatcher

One of the distinct advantages of having a world-building, story-telling group like Dreamcatcher, is that for pre-comeback media you can draw from all kinds of aesthetics that are just interesting, fueling discussion among fans about what is being depicted or what will be sung, with only crumbs and tidbits to lead us along. Why is there such contrasting imagery? What’s with the fact that not only is Dreamcatcher sitting with the blue blood but also consuming it? What leads Dreamcatcher into a Utopian world, and how does this figure into their ongoing social commentary about online hatred? These are the kinds of things that build hype and excitement, drive sales, and get Dreamcatcher fans excited about what kind of music genre we might hear this time added to their rock/pop core. We’ll know next week, but for now, seeing a seeming utopia crash up against a cyberpunk-ish wasteland that ends in a solemn, somewhat disturbing table meeting is all we’re getting.

But that wasn’t the only thing Dreamcatcher fans got this week. A veritable deluge of news and releases showed up surrounding the group’s fourth year anniversary, which was celebrated this past week on the 13th.

The storm started with a release of the second wave of official Dreamcatcher merchandise, including a mask with a chain, a bracelet, a hoodie, a new photo set, and more. Then the “Dystopia: Road to Utopia” album designs dropped ahead of pre-orders, showcasing a limited version white-colored album with an eye on the front and three normal versions in various stained glass-like colors. We got the aforementioned day’s individual teaser photos, and then came the anniversary vLive, where Dreamcatcher fans finally got the news they’ve been waiting for for a while:

Dreamcatcher Lightstick and Robe combo, ver. 1. Twitter credit: hf_dreamcatcher

Lightsticks are a thing in K-Pop as they’re meant to be group-specific merchandise that both identifies you as a fan of a group as well as have something to wave with at a live concert with said group. They’re the mark of a clear investment in an act’s long-term prospects, as well. So when Dreamcatcher not only revealed their lightstick (which is more like a staff due to the length, and adjustable) but also a dark robe to go with it, the general impression of hardcore Dreamcatcher fans was, basically, ecstatic.

We’ve seen these robes before — way back during the Fly High era of 2017, Dreamcatcher put on a special stage with a horror-type intro with these robes. This was right in the swing of the Nightmare storyline and was, of course, fitting. Four years later and it seems now fans will be able to join Dreamcatcher at the ritual wizarding, with lightstaves in hand. It’s a nice milestone, even if it’s showing up a little later than it would seem to be for a group that’s been around as long as Dreamcatcher.

A funny little side note to this news — the fact that fellow girl group LOONA’s own brightly-colored lightstick (more like a scepter) and cape already exist meant that a whole bunch of potential fanart and memes were born in light of the news that Dreamcatcher fans would now be dark wizards and witches. I had plenty of fun seeing them all, but here are just some of the best in my opinion (be sure to visit the artists I’ve linked — they do great work):

“this is what Dreamcatcher and Loona lightsticks feels like” by gustavospadetto on Twitter.
“opposites attract” by juggosipe0 on Twitter
“Yves hugging Gowon but it’s the deukae and loon lightsticks instead” by minjipup on Twitter

Can’t wait for that first live concert with both LOONA and Dreamcatcher fans at it.

Other than that, the anniversary vLive was filled with your normal Dreamcatcher chaos, with SuA, JiU, and Siyeon providing a few teasers for the upcoming title song and Spoiler Queen Yoohyeon perhaps unintentionally spoiling the title track’s name by saying “Odd Eye” in rhythm with a unique choreography involving both eyes. Whether or not this blows my “Iris” theory out of the water remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t be a Dreamcatcher pre-comeback vLive without at least one accidental spoiler.

As if all of this wasn’t enough in this content-packed week, here are a few other news tidbits (courtesy of the /r/dreamcatcher subreddit)

Dreamcatcher’s “Utopia” group image for Road to Utopia. Instagram credit: hf_dreamcatcher

We have just a little bit under ten days until Dreamcatcher is back promoting on stage again, and a ton more teasers and previews to drop. We’ll probably learn a bunch more about how Dreamcatcher’s Utopia isn’t what it seems, what we expect to hear music-wise, and of course, that elusive title track at last. See you next week with even more Dreamcatcher pre-comeback news!