*sing* Deeper than the sea~
…Yeah, right. Maybe I’m listening to Exo too much.
-This time I’m not gonna split into Korean/Japanese, but rather go for 2 Korean, 2 Japanese and 1 Chinese song-
Some people like to let go while listening to music, to forget all the problems in the world.
And I won’t deny that’s probably the intention of some artists, as well. But there are certain artists to choose otherwise: To point out problems they see or to name their innermost fears and troubles as a first step to progress them and to encourage other people to follow them in doing this. I’ve always had the habit to fall for this type of songs. Hard. They haunt me, wrap me up and don’t let me go… Does this even make sense?
I’m gonna introduce you to some songs that fall under my category of truly meaningful songs – Let’s go tackle some issues, then?
The reason for not focusing on any language is that those songs simply are the strongest ones and I wanted to keep this list on a level as high as possible. Also people shouldn’t cling to one language only~
I can still make a second list if I come upon more songs like this :)
1. BADMAN from B.A.P (Korean)
A predictable entry in this list, huh?
People who’re into K-Pop might know that B.A.P’s leader Yongguk is notoriously un-idol-like. Not overly pretty, not overly cute, just not overly attention-seeking(No offense to idols doing their job). He just seems believably human and real and has an honest soft spot for all kind of charity on top of that. Though still young he already has the feeling of a true artist sticking to him, for obvious reasons. Rather than taking the safe route he produces songs and writes lyrics which more often than not tackle various problems.
And oh boy, BADMAN is a strong song. In means of the costumes, the as always Blockbuster-like video but mostly in terms of lyrics.
This song is basically about anarchy. It’s about willing to change the sick ways of the world. It’s about breaking free of any bounds and to use force, if neccessary.
On the news, everyone’s a public enemy
Psychopaths are crazily flying all over the place
This is a war against crime
I will repay you the exact same way
There’s no forgiveness in us
It’s definitely stepping beyond the boundaries of law, and this is a mentality we all know is supposed to be wrong. And that’s the key to this songs’ meaning: We know it’s wrong, but we’ll do it for the sake of others, hence we are the bad men. We take the sin upon us.
This is a really dangerously controverse attitude. I can’t speak for others, but I’m positive a lot of people felt the unfairness of the world weighing them down once in a while, right?
To think: This pedophile got only a few measle years in jail. Or: This person is racist towards others everyday and just gets away with it. Just thinking about the war situations in the world makes many people feel sick.
Everyday there are thousands of victims suffering for all kinds of reasons. And even though a lot of songs naively proclaim: “Change starts in your head, go and do it!”, this song goes beyond that and talks about things that can’t be changed easily as that. And it takes the desperate route of anger.
This song points out the controversy of anarchistic thinking very well without neccessarily taking a clear side. Permanently we are being reminded of the wrong way things can turn out so easily.
Why do you keep provoking me?
Now kneel down
I don’t like you
When I see you, I lose control
When you see us, please run away
Because we will never leave you alone
It’s constantly pointing out the blurry line of anger towards the people, and the crime itself.
The difficulty to judge rightfully. Why, isn’t that an almost ancient human conflict. There might never be a true solution, but we rarely get a deep insight on those, who choose to take action this way.
All in one it’s a brilliant song and it pains me to know how much criticism it earned for all the wrong reasons. Like people stating it’s “too dark” or even fans claiming they didn’t understand the lyrics. The shallow nature of some people always manages to make me sad.
I appreciate this song highly and hope Yongguk doesn’t let go of his thinking!
2. Papa, Mama ~Nozomarenu Baby~ (Japanese)
Let’s venture into a totally different territory, and don’t look at the whole world, but rather at one forgotten individual.
I’ve known this song ever since I was about 15 and it still won’t fail to make me feel the same I felt upon listening to it the first time.
Talking about Miyavi rather frequently, I’ll cut this short for now. Let me just say that this song is rather old, straight from his ‘wild’ youth. Not completely free of his Visual-Kei roots this song is really rough and has a rather unusual arrangement and displays some form of raw emotion we rarely get to listen, lyric- and voice-wise.
The songtitle means literally “Dad, Mom ~unwanted Baby~” and it deals with exactly that: A kid that got abandoned by his parents and tries to handle the situation.
Papa, mama, grandpa, sister… I’m sorry, I’m sorry
Teacher, the lady next door, Tarou, I’m really sorry
Papa went to the mountais, mama to the rivers and I’m still alone
Hey, why did Papa and Mama have sex…?
The kid is desperate, angry and confused, so confused. The sometimes barely audible thrown in questions like “Hey God, I wonder if I’ve done something bad?” or “Hey God, where is my home?” infect me with their helpless feeling in an instant.
Emotions like remorse for just being alive and some jolt of rightful anger towards the rejection the kid is getting, come together in a really strong refrain:
Enough, enough already
Stop it, back off, just leave me alone
The contradicting emotions result in forcefully pushing away everything and anything.
But in the end it comes down to the truth.
Enough, enough already
Look back to me
I can only repeat myself: The raw emotions in this song are sweeping me off my feet everytime. It’s understandable he doesn’t perform this song very often nowadays, but what would I’ve given to listen to it live for once.
3. “MAMA” from EXO (Korean)
Back to Korean, staying with Mama? Not exactly, since “Mama” in Korean literally means “Your Highness”. Most people who are into K-Pop probably heard of the legendary debut song of Exo before. And if only for the stupid “Careless, careless” part.
Which, by the way, was my personal reason to not come near this song for at least a year.
No one who care about me
…Really? Like… Would it have ruined the flow so much to put a little ‘s’ to the care? Who cares about my hurting ears? Why praising your English-speaking members if they don’t get to correct at least this?
…But let’s get back to the topic.
Though groups debuting under SM are far from being associated with meaningful or deep songs-no offense but it is somewhat true-, Exo surprised with this very strong track.
Not only is the arrangement quite unique and interesting, it also brings some serious lyrics to the table.
Mama, please answer me now
Why did people change?
Now they forgot how to love, lost their heart to care
Even upon seeing the end, they’re still hungry
Are you satisfied yet?
Different from our first two songs, this is about the increasingly cold and indifferent nature of our society. Everyting under the slightly fantasy-like setting, talking to their highness as if having witnessed people for a long time. Still, it’s 100% relatable to every normal person.
At some point we voluntarily trapped ourselves in this smart prison
We entrust our personalities into a digital world, made of 0’s and 1’s
There’s no life, no feelings, no warmth – only wasted words
The focus obviously lies in the growing digitalisation of the world, making people distance from their close surroundings. Actually most lyrics are really self-explanatory, which doesn’t make them less meaningful.
Why don’t we look each other in the eye anymore?
Why don’t we communicate? Why don’t we love?
Today, again, I’m shedding tears at this reality
Tell me we can change if we want to, please tell me, Mama
It goes straight to the point and expresses the pressure and uncertainty beautifully. The growing pressure from being surrounded by enemies only, as well as the uncertainty towards going back to how it ‘used to be’; desperately yearning for some hope and encouragement. The vocals do a really impressive job on this; especially D.O and Baekhyun.
Striking in between all the lost calling is a really rough bridge, which should be mentioned as well:
Die, Kill, Shout, Fight
This is not a war
Hitting and getting hit, choosing sides
This isn’t a game as well
Comparing to the mostly smooth vocals this part is being exclaimed extremely roughly and forcefully, a way I never expected to hear in a pop-song.
It basically screams: Get your sh*t together, what are y’all doing?!
And sometimes when I look at the way people around me are behaving, I think exactly this.
This song got me late, but it probably won’t leave me too soon, either.
4. “Tower of Sunz” from Hatsune Miku (Japanese)
Now let’s get to something completely different. Yeah, yeah, it’s a Vocaloid song. The computer-generated voices are a turn off for a lot of people as well as a ground for prejudices against Japanese music. Even I don’t particularly enjoy their voices and prefer searching for human-made covers. Alas, this song is rather unknown and therefore I haven’t found a nice version yet.
So if it’s not about the vocals, then why is this song here? Yes, of course for the lyrics. And these are truly my most favourite ones in the world. Not exaggerating.
Now what is this song about? Lots of people never understand it in the first place, and maybe there are plenty of different interpretations, but for me it’s a clear case. Also, watching the video will help a lot.
While starting out rather confusing with lines like:
I hold your funeral now
– Stop thinking like that already!
I know you have nothing to say
A stalemated rule between you and me
I want to gain majority one day
There comes a key line, crucial to understanding:
I am aimed at by the me of yesterday
Tower of Sunz is about the constantly changing identity of yourself. The analogy is that every decision creates a new version of yourself, which is different from the one before. Under this idea, every line in the lyrics and the things depicted in the video start to make sense(despite for the weird Circus part, I think this is just to confuse/creep the hell out of us).
Thinking harder and harder, I pitched a fastball at last
Because only you were looking, I’m embarrassed
A count of 3-0
It’s about the heavy consciousness of self-awareness. Every decision is questioned; would the old me have done the same? Compared to a baseball game, can you win against yourself? Someone is going to loose eventually.
The song is very complex and the idea of the heavy pressure originating just from your own mind is making me kinda dizzy.
On top of that the arrangement(though purposefully weird at times)has this heart-beat-like pounding in the back, symbolising the time passing, as well as the bird calling for a new day. Nearing the end the beating gets faster and more merciless decisions are shown in the video.
Talking about the video, where the symbolism is easily converted… You can see her walking up the spiral stairs that are her life, being confronted with herself many times. Sooo so many analogies. There are versions of herself that stayed behind on purpose, refusing to step forward. A very young one, not moving and doomed to be drowned by the rising water that is going to engulf the staircase. One, unable to leave for being bound to a certain point of the staircase. A young version of herself dieing when her parents wouldn’t stop arguing.
And many more, really.
The tension builds up to the point of hundreds of versions of herself, struggeling and fighting to reach the top, where as a conclusion, only one girl remains.
So all in one it’s a story about life itself, told in a hauntingly twisted and oppressive way.
Those feelings are not pleasant at all and while listening to this I often feel an uncomfortable squeezing in my chest, urging me to think about the decisions I made.
5. “Clown Mask” from [Hangeng] (Chinese)
Wow, after Tower of Sunz it feels almost as if we’re finishing with a light song. This isn’t really the case, though.
Yes, this is more upbeat, but non the less a song about inner turmoil as well.
I gotta admit to not knowing a lot of Chinese artists, but I’m very much in love with Hangeng, the ex-member of Koreans incredibly-famous band Super Junior. After the painful separation followed by a law-suit it became one of the most talked about scandals in the K-Pop history, displaying the internal problems of discrimination, over-working and inhuman rules and expectations of being a Chinese idol in the Korean market. Or of being an idol under SM Entertainment in the first place.
Now he hoists a pretty successful solo career in his home country, but I think this song gives us a good insight on the trouble he faced or still does.
Even though this song could apply to his time in Korea, it could as well be about the life as a star in general or any person, really. Maybe slightly similar to the other songs, but still showing a totally different facette.
Drawn on the mask is not a tiger, but a clown
His smile never changes
His birthday wish is always for everyone to be happy
The caring embraces he gives have a temperature of -10°
It’s a different way of coping with the pressure of society, one that’s common for stars; smile. Smile and laugh. Play the happy one, that has no enemies and no close friends, either. In a way it’s really like making a fool out of yourself. Degrading yourself to something people can laugh with(or rather at). Really interesting are also those lines:
You guessed the riddle wrong – Your turn to change
You guessed the riddle right – Your turn to perform
If you’re not able to see behind this game everyone plays, you gotta adapt not to be left out. If you’re good, you can gladly join the game to show your skills.
Either way you play, there is no way out of this.
The whole song is heavily auto-tuned which just fits the atmosphere so well. Additionally the video is worth a watch. Most Chinese videos seem cheaper in production than Korean or Japanese ones, but this one does fairly well. It’s slightly creepy, the CGI effects aren’t totally poor and you can see Hangeng dance. And let me tell you, that man can dance. His way of moving perfectly mirrors the emotions of the song.
Sooo… Those were a few songs that seriously made me thinking. About the world, about individuals, about myself. It’d be nice if I could make you feel the same~
My long babbling about every single song might show the high amount of love I harbour for every single one of them. Of course, as always, I gladly take suggestions on more awesome songs with deep meaning.
Maybe I’ll make a rant about 5 songs with horrible meanings next :P
Thanks for reading :3