6 K-pop Songs That Aren’t What They Seem
Artists like BTS, G-Dragon, Hwasa, and Mino go beyond the surface to pull on listeners’ heartstrings
From sexy, to quirky to rebellious, these songs set the mood with their instrumentals almost immediately. Once you pay attention to the lyricism, however, there’s a lot more angst to discover beyond the surface.
It’s easy to mistake the King of K-pop’s 2013 punk-rock-rap blend for an anthem of rebellion thanks to its upbeat and furious instrumentals and verse delivery, but there’s a lot more pain and loneliness within the story: “Leave me alone/I was alone anyway/I have no one, everything is meaningless/Take away the sugar-coated comfort/Tonight I’ll be crooked.”
Despite being considered one of the sexiest songs in K-pop thanks to its slow rolling trap, breathy adlibs and powerful bass (a lot of the comments on YouTube are about body rolling), Mino’s “Body” is actually about the pain, longing and desperation that follows the end of a relationship: “We may have different intentions/I might borrow some courage from alcohol/And call you by mistake/I don’t know, my judgement is/Clouded clouded clouded/Unconsciously, In the air/I draw draw draw you/I think I’m crazy.”
iKON, “Love Scenario”
This 2018 mega-hit single by iKON pairs uplifting piano with trap and bass for a catchy, bright sound but is slightly more bitter than it is sweet. “Love Scenario” laments the end of what was once a beautiful relationship, but is accepting of the fact that the end was inevitable. It is this sense of resignation that makes the heart ache: “Today was our yesterday and now there’s no tomorrow/It hurts but if we dragged it out more, it would’ve become a scar/I loved you and I was loved/So that’s good enough for me.”
With the playful refrain of “twit, twit, twit” in its chorus and chirpy flute undercut with sweeping bass drops, Hwasa’s “Twit” comes across as quirky and powerful at first, but lyrically spirals into self-blame and heartbreak: “I’m a fool/I’m the bitch that made you sick (bitch, yeah yeah)/The Devil’s whisper – my greed pushes you away/Even even if I’m late, don’t wait for me.” It does briefly build crescendo of grief in-between with a string section, but simmers back into pop-trap as though trying to brush the pain away.
Ten, “Dream in a Dream”
A perfect blend of Japanese instrumentals and future bass, “Dream in a Dream”‘s sound flows with grace, ease and peace. While Ten keeps the lyrics to a minimal (it’s actually just one verse that repeats throughout), he still manages to convey a sense of melancholy and longing that revolve around running away to a dream sanctuary to be with his lover: “I’m staying up/I don’t wanna come down from your love/We’ll get lost together/Let me flow/Don’t ever let me come down from your love.”