If your estranged lover asked “are you there,” would you respond to them? If so, what would you say to them?
Korean pop, seven-member group MONSTA X considers this question by exploring the complexity of romantic love in their latest album “ARE YOU THERE?,” which was released on Oct. 22, 2018.
Like worldwide-known K-POP group BTS, MONSTA X is gaining popularity in the United States. Their 2018 “2nd World Tour” brought seven concerts to the U.S., all of which were sold out. The group has also claimed spots on the Billboard World Albums Chart, their album “The Clan, Pt. 2.5.” peaking at #1 on Apr. 8 of this year, followed by “The Code” EP and “The Connect: Dejavu,” both peaking at #2.
Other popular media outlets such as Buzzfeed have also given MONSTA X some attention.
Intro: ARE YOU THERE?
Introduction songs are commonplace with Korean pop albums. Named after its titular album, “ARE YOU THERE” has no lyrics, showcasing an electronic dance music (EDM)-based instrumental with adlibs by members of MONSTA X.
There is not much to take away from the song, though if one prefers instrumentals, “ARE YOU THERE” may be enjoyable.
MONSTA X is drowning under a sea of negative emotions in their second track “Underwater.” The song highlights the turbulent feelings that come with a break-up by transitioning between the soft tones of an emotionally-wounded person and pulsing delirium of denial.
“As soon as you talked about the end, I am still frozen in that time/Stay here, the words that I could not reach to,” MONSTA X sings. “You’re my one/save me/Get me out/ I’m all alone, cold.”
The title track “Shoot Out” has garnered about 14 million views on YouTube as of Oct. 28, 2018. Upon its release, the music video reached over one million views. The song features a heavy EDM sound with an intense bass.
The music video features the members of MONSTA X confined in cages or wandering over obscure landscapes, a metaphor for the song’s meaning: being attached to a lover who is lost.
“Half-soul/walking with heavy legs,” they sing. “I’m lost somewhere/finding someone.”
The song also highlights the preparation for an impending break-up. MONSTA X implores their lover to end the relationship completely as opposed to letting them down slowly.
“In the twilight without you/ this farewell that grabs down the dawn ankle,” they sing. “If everything were to end anyways/if I were to leave your heart/just abandon it all without any hope left.”
The music video also features the Seven Deadly Sins, vices that are mentioned in religions such as Christianity and Catholicism, written on tarot cards. Certain members are shown holding these cards, either looking at them in a daze or throwing them into a fire, symbolizing their freedom.
Introducing a bright track to change the flow of emotional songs, “Heart Attack” discusses an individual's determination to show their love interest that they will be “your final love.”
The group takes on a confident vibe, noting that they will make their interest have “a heart attack they can’t refuse.” When translated into English, the phrase sounds strange; however, it is important to understand that the word “heart attack” in the context of the song is “attacking someone’s heart with love,” an intense feeling that will make one’s love interest fall in love with them: “An unforgettable heart attack/a pull just like that/fall crazy in love [with] me.”
널하다 (I Do Love You)
Another light-hearted track, “I Do Love You” continues the trend of EDM in the album, but does not have as heavy of a feel as “Shoot Out.”
In the song, MONSTA X attempts to convey their emotions to their lover, who is doubting their love for them.
“I like you/even explaining it with words, it’s lacking,” they sing. “I love you/expressing these words/I do love you.”
In the song, MONSTA X realizes that saying “I love you” may not always bring the emotional impact that it contains. Throughout the track, they find ways to describe their love to their significant others, evocative of the innocent love between characters in a Korean drama.
“It’s a little weird to say this but I don’t have a lot of time because of you/ even when I look out the window when I wake up, I keep seeing your smiling face,” they sing. “I am only interested in you.”
Overall, the track is sweet and playful. It also portrays a fairly common occurrence in relationships: one who doubts, and the other who wishes to fully convey their emotions.
어디서 뭐해 (Mohae)
“Mohae,” which translates to “What are you doing?” in English, takes the album on a sensual turn. Throughout the song, MONSTA X proclaims the depth of their love for someone, singing about their desire to get closer to their significant other.
The track portrays the restraint of romantic feelings, followed by the complete acceptance of an individual’s vulnerability and yearning for the person they love.
“Even if I pretend it’s nothing, I can’t do as well as I thought because it’s you/I am filled and drunk with you,” They sing, “I miss you/what’re you doing tonight?/I need you/I feel like I’m going crazy.”
Depending on one’s interpretation, the track can convey a sexual undertone, highlighting the physical needs in a romantic relationship.
“Move over there/I’m tryna make it pop/don’t be shy,” they sing. “While you prepare/just take me all.”
“Oh My!” brings a heavy EDM dance track that people can jam along to at parties or in the car with friends. It echoes a similar vibe as their song “Fallin’,” which is featured in their album “The Connect: Dejavu,” released earlier this year.
Backed by Bollywood-esque beats and bass, MONSTA X sings about having a good time with their friends, creating a space where people can forget their responsibilities for one night.
“There’s no time, so hurry/burn it up,” they sing. “Whoever that is too serious can scatter over there/This thrilling sound rides throughout my veins and through me.”
It can also be deduced that the song is dedicated to their fans, as the group mentions how they want to make “you” feel, and how “they need you,” as without fans, a music group is almost nothing.
“The reason for my existence/The feeling I want to give you,” they sing. “I got you, babe/I only need you.”
Slowing the pace of the album, “Myself” features a dreamy instrumental backed with the gentle strum of a guitar. Similar to “Shoot Out,” this track again highlights MONSTA X as they hopelessly search for their lover. However, rather than asking for their significant other to cut them off, MONSTA X leave themselves vulnerable, asking to be saved.
“Slowly, just take my body/I’m broken/come and fix me,” they sing. “I hope you recognize me like this, please/I hope that you come to rescue me.”
A feeling of loneliness and helplessness can be heard throughout the track. Due to this, the song may be best enjoyed late at night in a dark room or in the car, air condition blasting.
By My Side
Continuing with slow-paced songs, “By My Side” has a sound evocative of early 2000s R&B tracks. Like “Shoot Out” and “Myself,” the track portrays MONSTA X as regretful lovers who are trying to have their lover stay with them.
“In this state of anxiety, I want to end it/Hurry and lend your hand for me,” they sing. “I can only look at you/Even when I know that my everything is dirty, stay by my side, baby.”
A sense of pain can be registered as they address “the ignorant days” of their past, thanking their lover for teaching them how to love themselves and asking for their significant other for another chance. The track can make for a interesting evening, should one be feeling angsty.
Spotlight (Korean Version)
Completing the album is another EDM track called “Spotlight.” Unlike the previous songs in this album, “Spotlight” was first released on Jan. 9, 2018 and sung in Japanese. As of Oct. 28, 2018, the Japanese music video has almost 7 million views on Youtube.
As the title suggests, the group sings about a spotlight. Instead of a spotlight on a stage, MONSTA X refers to their lover or supporter as a spotlight, a light that shines upon and gives them power.
“In the dark without anyone/the loneliness grows, swallowing me,” they sing. “When the lights go out, I lose myself/You only (shine) on me/can you save me?”
The song can also be interpreted as MONSTA X responding to those who doubt them:
“Who can tell me I’m not a spotlight?/Ya, get your own thing and make it shine.”
Aside from the language difference, the Korean version of “Spotlight” features a new rap by lead rapper I.M., who performs his portion of the song in English.
‘Are you there’ to check out this album?
“ARE YOU THERE?” by MONSTA X effectively portrays some of the complex emotions that are associated with romantic love. The album is EDM-heavy, and can be enjoyable to those who are a fan of the genre. The tracks showcase MONSTA X’s various talents, especially since some of the group’s members were involved in writing or composing the songs.