Jim Adams is giving us another interesting prompt this week for Song Lyric Sunday. The prompt is to come up with a song that has one word as its title. I’m making it more challenging by deciding to find the shortest word possible, the shorter the better, and so here is the song. As I said before in my previous post for Song Lyric Sunday, my songs tend to be from the eastern part of the world. This time my pick is not written in English, but in Korean. No worries, I will give you the English interpretation, but if you haven’t heard of any Korean song, this may be quite a journey for you. I wish you a pleasant one.
The title of the song is On. Two-letter word is probably the shortest title for a song that you can find, unless there’s a song called I or A. On is a song recorded by BTS. It came out in February 2020, right before the global pandemic started. BTS released the music video “Kinetic Manifesto Film: Come Prima” on the same day the song is released in all streaming platforms, which I show below as the first video in this post. The MV “Kinetic Manifesto Film: Come Prima” was recorded live showing BTS, The Lab (the champion from the World of Dance Season 2), and the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps, a famous marching band group. They performed the whole choreography near the famous Sepulveda Dam, in Los Angeles, California. When you watch this video, you have to see it all the way to the end to witness the dance break, a special added scene only seen in some videos. Just for fun and comparison, I threw in another MV of another live performance of On at the Grand Central Terminal in New York for the Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show.
And here’s the lyrics in Korean and English before I continue talking about the artist group BTS. What I’m giving you here is the English translation only. If anyone would like to sing along the Korean lyrics written in Roman letters, you can find the lyrics by clicking here. I know that many of you will probably appreciate the meaning of the lyrics more than the song itself, but I do hope that you can enjoy their dance talent shown in the first two videos too.
BTS - ON [English Translation] I can't understand what people are sayin' Who and what do I need to follow With each step then again grows the shadow Where is this place I open my eyes to Maybe Seoul or New York or Paris I get up, unsteady on my feet Look at my feet, look down The shadow resembles me Is it the shadow that’s shaking Or is it my feet that are trembling Of course I‘m not unafraid Of course it’s not all okay But I know Awkwardly I flow I fly together with that black wind Hey na na na Gotta go insane to stay sane Hey na na na Throw myself whole into both worlds Hey na na na Can’t hold me down cuz you know I’m a fighter Carried myself into this beautiful prison Find me and I'm gonna live with ya (Eh-Oh) Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah (Eh-Oh) Come on up, bring the pain oh yeah Rain be pourin' Sky keep fallin' Everyday oh na na na (Eh-Oh) Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah Bring the pain It’ll become my blood and flesh Bring the pain No fear, now that I know the way Breathe on the small things My air and my light in the dark The power of the things that make me, “me” Even if I fall, I come right up, scream Even if I fall, I come right up, scream That’s how we’ve always been Even if my knees drop to the ground As long as they don’t get buried It won’t matter Win no matter what Whatever you say Whatever they say I don't give a uhh I don't give a uhh I don't give a uhh Hey na na na Gotta go insane to stay sane Hey na na na Throw myself whole into both worlds Hey na na na Can’t hold me down cuz you know I’m a fighter Carried myself into this beautiful prison Find me and I'm gonna live with ya (Eh-Oh) Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah (Eh-Oh) Come on up, bring the pain oh yeah Rain be pourin' Sky keep fallin' Everyday oh na na na (Eh-Oh) Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah Where my pain lies Let me take a breath My everythin’ My blood and tears Got no fears I’m singin’ ohhhhh Oh I’m takin’ over You should know yeah Can’t hold me down cuz you know I’m a fighter Choosing to descend into the dark abyss Find me and I’m gonna bleed with ya (Eh-Oh) Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah (Eh-Oh) Come on up, bring the pain oh yeah Rain be pourin' Sky keep fallin' Everyday oh na na na (Eh-Oh) Find me and I’m gonna bleed with ya (Eh-Oh) Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah (Eh-Oh) Come on up, bring the pain oh yeah All that I know is just goin’ on & on & on & on (Eh-Oh) Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah Songwriters: BTS members J-Hope, RM and Suga, as well as August Rigo, Melaniae Fontana, Michel Schulz, Antonina Armato, Julia Ross, Krysta Youngs, and Pdogg. Producer: Pdogg
Now I’d like to say a little bit about the artists, the seven young men that belong to Bantan Sonyeondan, also known as the Bangtan Boys or BTS. The seven members are well known with their stage names RM (the leader), Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and JK (or Jung Kook). Some of you reading this post have probably heard about them recently with their hit song Dynamite (also a one-word song title) that was nominated for the Best Pop Group/Duo at the 63rd Annual Grammy Award in March 2021. BTS did not win the Grammy, but the fact that they were nominated and then became the first Korean group artist that performed fully at the Grammy was already hard to miss out in the eye of the world, not to mention all of the other major accomplishments that they’ve had. The fans of BTS, called the BTS ARMY, is also not something to be seen lightly.
I have not seen an impact done by a global union of fans the way BTS ARMY did. ARMY is not just a fans group. They make sure their voice and social impact are seen, known and received by the world. The Time magazine wrote an article about ARMY last year, Inside the BTS ARMY, the Devoted Fandom with an Unrivaled Level of Organization, as well as an article by Variety entertainment news online titled How the BTS and Its ARMY Could Change the Music Industry. To understand the connection between BTS and their fan group, Jin (one of the BTS members) says it perfectly in Variety’s article, “It’s because ARMY exists that we exist.” Truly, BTS and ARMY are like a big family. And next, I will introduce another part of the big family that plays a big role in BTS.
BTS debuted for the first time in 2013 under the Big Hit Entertainment, a small underdog entertainment company back in 2013. It has now grown to be one of the top 4 entertainment companies in South Korea, if not the number one, rebranded its name to become Hybe Entertainment in 2020, and started to spread its wings globally outside of South Korea. At the beginning of April 2021, Hybe America, a subsidiary group of Hybe Entertainment, purchased all of the holdings of Ithaca Holdings that includes SB Projects that manages Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Big Machine Label Group. Big Hit or Hybe owes its huge development and growing to BTS, and vice versa, BTS would not be as big as they are now if not because of Big Hit. As an entertainment group, Big Hit has been known to allow plenty of rooms for their artists to grow and be free in their creativity, including for BTS. Big Hit allowed BTS members to do something that was slightly different compared to other Korean idol groups at that time, that is to produce their own songs, including writing their own lyrics. With Hybe now slowly emerging globally, are we going to see more Korean music wave globally? I don’t know, but it’s exciting to see what will happen.
So back to the song On, I would like to give you two more videos. I hope I can still have your attention. The third video will be the Official Music Video without the dance performance. The video is full of symbolism and references to various films and television shows, such as The Maze Runner, The Lion King, Game of Thrones, and perhaps more. In order to understand the symbols, I hereby give you another video. The fourth one explains the Official MV from a Korean perspective and connects those meanings to BTS and the messages they would like to send through the song. The explanation is in English, so it’ll be easy to understand. What I appreciate from watching the third and fourth video is the artistic talent and ideas that went behind the concept of the video and its making.
I hope you can enjoy everything in this long writing. I normally don’t write this long, so if I can keep your attention to the end it’s quite an achievement for me.
Please visit Song Lyric Sunday April 11, 2021 to see more songs shared by others. Have a wonderful week, everyone.