Hello! So sorry for the holiday hiatus. Welcome back to Cynical Kpop which will hopefully have a new feel after leaving the restrictions of a classroom. Today we look at the latest TVXQ single, “Humanoids”.
This massively popular Kpop Group TVXQ had their Korean comeback late 2012 and have a new cynical song. Usually, they stick to love songs and adolescent angst about time and stress. However, this song features some interesting and cynical lyrics. Check out the MV’s above (the second having English subtitles). The song has messages about seizing the day and building the future, but there are cynical undertones beneath commenting on the dangers of the status quo.
“They have already perfected it, the scenario that hides everything.”
They make a clear distinction of a young generation in the song, so this distinct opposing group could easily be interpreted as the older generations. Miss A venerated their parents, but TVXQ seems to be making a rebellious comment about them; albeit they do it in a vague manner. One line has a clear message of action, though:
Break apart this twisted space
I’m not sure about the connotation in the original Korean,. but the translator felt twisted fit–maligned, crooked, harmful, and dangerous.
It’s the future, we’re humanoids on top of a fragment
It’s overflowing with the utopia that you and I have created
It’s the future, we are humanoids to change the future
Is TVXQ talking about the fragmentation of urban life and living and how modern Korean society builds barriers between people of different statuses and identities? Is this a steampunk video and are they actually talking about an alternate past where humans meet machines and are a fragment of both forced together? How are we breaking apart this twisted, fragmented world and rebuilding it? Well, I think I’m looking too far into it as do others who bring up these theories because the video matches none of this. For a Kpop song though, you usually do not have the freedom to speculate so wildly and bring so many ideas.
A place where masks won’t work, where the wrong can be pointed out
Where I can breathe when I run out of breath
Yeah, let’s choose that kind of world
We come back to some solid Kpop themes when songs try to preach a message–this one paints a paradoxical view of Korea, the 빨리빨리 ( balli balli, literally quick quick but more like a encouraging statement faster, faster) nature moving quickly and always growing versus the conservative efforts of keeping opinions and feelings to yourself instead of trying to adapt and change. The vagueness remains in their call and response of, “Are we awakened? Does the answer change?” This appears to lack any meaning and just promotes a mysterious feeling.. Then again these are all a translation and my Korean is not good enough to evaluate it. I thought for a Korean pop song this had a different and intriguing set of lyrics. The imagery provides little other than the loveliness of TVXQ and some futuristic dystopia-meets Steampunk (how is that even possible?), but perhaps next time we will get some cynical visuals too.