This is not the song I expected to see at the top of the charts this week.
While it’s hardly contestable that Valentine’s Day in America has become an overblown marketing scam for Hallmark and Hershey’s, its basic significance has not been lost on the rest of the world. From dramas and anime alone (and probably from a culture lesson in Japanese class if you’ve been able to take one) it’s clear that Japan has its own traditions concerning the holiday and it’s largely the same in Korea. The pattern is Valentine’s Day on the fourteenth of February, White Day, a female oriented Valentine’s Day, a month later and, perhaps a Korea-specific holiday, Black Day (bemoaning one’s single-ness) a month after that. So, it’s strange to me to see that, while this kind of holiday is clearly celebrated and holds importance in a romantic sense, during the week of this love-love holiday a song about a break-up shot up five spots on the Mnet chart.
Seriously, this is the most depressing break-up song that I’ve heard in a while. The lyrics are chock full of descriptive sentences on that jarring, jagged feeling one gets after someone unexpectedly leaves you alone. Not only the pain of absence, but the self-loathing that comes along with it. Lines like “Why am I foolishly withering every day? / Like a flower that lost its light, I have lost you” beautifully depict the slow slide and perhaps the hopelessness that one feels right after the break-up. Surprisingly, there are a lot of lines in this song that I really like, but for every well thought-out, poetic line, there’s two lines that sound like something out of my poetry book from middle school.
Because you were here but not anymore, I can’t breathe
Because you’re not next to me, I can’t linger around you anymore
I am dying but right now, you’re not here, not here, not here
It might just be me, but I can’t stand the “I can’t breathe when you’re not around me,” “you are my air” kind of metaphors. A song about a break-up has to be at least a little bit dramatic to leave an impact, but it always comes off as way too overdramatic—as you can probably gather, I’m not a fan of Jordan Sparks’s No Air.
I really, really love how this song sounds musically. No moments of conflict: I love it completely and entirely. The hints of jazziness, that brass (is it a saxophone? I love saxophones) and the varying percussion are a pleasure to listen to. For once I also think that the soft-spoken speak rapping, usually reserved for breakdowns that include “baby girl” and “can’t you see how much I love you,” works. I’m sure the lyrical content has something to do with it as it’s entirely introspective and doesn’t have her cat calling after her love interest, but Bora’s voice just sounds amazing.
What I really don’t like, however, is the music video. The scenes where we’re looking back on their relationship are fabulous, and the dance areas where the pain of the break up is actually shown through their movements is great. They are too far few and between. Unfortunately, we’re forced to sit through the two girls gyrating for the other 85% of the video and it completely ruins the tone of the whole thing. I don’t know how many times I have to say this: gyrating is not appropriate for love songs! If you make a dance song, then sure, go crazy, but when creating a tone you have to make sure to keep with the tone! Plus, we as the audience already know the girls are sexy. We don’t need someone hitting our heads with a sexy clue-by-four reminding us of that fact while they’re trying to get over a loss in their lives. Ugh.
I still don’t understand how, in thematic context, this song rose to number one the week of Valentine’s Day, but I do think it’s a great song. Because of that, I’m giving it a four broken heart-shaped cookies out of five. Now excuse me as I try to cheer myself up by listening to something less depressing. Like I Dreamed a Dream.