Not long ago my fellow writer Jasper reflected on the role of the lyrics in K-pop (or more like the lack of). Because lyrics in K-pop don’t always make sense or often there’s a disruption between the lyrics and the MV/concept, in this series we will be taking a closer look at concrete groups’ lyrics, with a special emphasis on how they relate to the concept and identity of each group.
First on the list is miss A. In 2010, miss A debuted with a pretty badass EP, Bad but Good, and not only image wise. They were sexy in an in-your-face way and they were also sassy, but more mature than any other group that had pull out these concepts before. And their title track, “Bad Girl Good Girl” was an open manifesto. The lyrics in “Bad Girl Good Girl” were not perfect, at times too childish or simplistic:
You don’t know me
So shut up boy
I’m looking for a real man, not a man who acts like one through words.
But they were indeed something new to girl groups, overflowing confidence and defending the right to dress and act sexy without being pointed or judged.
Hello, Hello, Hello.
It seems like the first time, time, time you’ve seen a girl like me.
Why do you judge me?
Are you afraid of me, perhaps?
You don’t even know me well, you only look at me from the outside.
I find your gaze to be funny because you see me as a pitiful girl.
These kind of clothes, this kind of hair, a girl who does these kind of dances is obvious.
You’re even more obvious.
Even if “Bad Girl Good Girl” was the most obvious track in the album, another song , “Break It”, also offered a pretty straightforward approach to a break up.
Break it, that’s it, I’ll leave and forget everything, break it, I’m so sick of this, go look for someone else
Break it, now cut it out, I’m done with you, break it, break it, break it, give it up and take it back
No confidence or dignity, I’m sick of it. It’s no fun, I broke it.
We are totally done and you won’t get a second chance, you know
Their next single album, Step Up, was also a step in this direction. Even if their title song “Breathe” was a love song in the most traditional way, it still held some remains of that confidence and boldness that characterized their debut:
Should I confess? Yeah. Whatever if you don’t like me, yeah. But all this waiting around is killing me
But it’s the song that gives title to the album that stood out more as a personality statement:
Aren’t songs getting boring nowadays? Doesn’t it make you feel slightly scared?
Isn’t everybody dancing the same way?
If others say the like it, do you say you like it too? Hiding an image that’s only yours
It went all down towards the emo from there. Always keeping some maturity in their lyrics — for example never have they used words like “oppa” and rarely expressions like “molla” in their songs for example, which I highly appreciate — ever since the release of A Class, their lyrics have tended to portray not very healthy relationships. Especially worrying is the amount of times they have been cheated. It all started with “Goodbye Baby”…
My name is not Suzy but when you mistakenly keep calling me Suzy
I should’ve known then, I don’t know why I tried to believe you
… continued with “One to Ten”…
Saying that there’s another woman, that’s it, that’s all I need to hear
… and then, with the release of their last album, Touch, also “Over U”:
Pretending that I believed you when you said she was just a friend
But even when they are not cheated, they don’t seem to be very lucky in their relationship, judging from the lyrics of songs such as “No Mercy”:
I hate you for treating me bad when I treat you so well
I have recently come to terms with the fact that not every girl group song should be about women empowerment, even groups that debut with a mature concept. It’s ok, we all fall in love and break up too (not every single song out there has to be about love either, note to all the songwriters in the world). But lately miss A lyrics seems to be about the same: being cheated and/or getting angry with an ex. Probably because, as Salima said, miss A was right there in the middle when JYP started to go all emo.
But if there’s something I appreciate from miss A’s lyrics, however, is that they still hold some consistency with the evolution of their concepts and their MVs. That fact, together with some small details like the mention of Suzy in “Goodbye Baby”, gives the feeling that miss A’s lyrics have been written especially for them and carry some of their personality too — probably because so far all of their title tracks have been composed by JYP itself, but even so, so have the Wonder Girls‘ singles and one wouldn’t say the same about their lyrics.
They have gone from sassy teens to indignant women, and even though they have always kept a pretty bold attitude, I can only hope that, just as their last title track “Touch” said and always lyrics-wise, they can open their hearts again and step up their game. Not just for me, but especially for them. They do deserve someone who treats them well, right?