On the whole, I don’t like to make generalizations. No matter how prominent an attitude or idea is among a group, there’s always one person who disagrees. That said, I have one exception: anyone who likes boys likes bad boys.
Even sensible people who won’t date them still see the attraction. As such, they permeate dramas, movies, books, manga, comics, and anything else. Music, though, is an odd duck. Bad boys are certainly present, but rarely are bad boys given the appeal in song that they have everywhere else.
The ur example of bad boys in music is Big Bang‘s “Bad Boy.” Where most of the time, the bad boy is presented as the desirable choice, risky but full of excitement, Big Bang points out the other resounding truth: bad boys make bad boyfriends.
Me, whom you love, sorry I’m a bad boy
Yes, just leave me, good bye, you’re a good girl
The more time passes, the more you get to know me,
only disappointments will remain but
Baby don’t leave me,
I know you still love me
Why, yes, I’ll tell you the truth,
I need you
The chorus is a full declaration that they know they’re bad for their girlfriends. They blow off dates, pick fights, and always expect their girlfriend to come running back to them. That said, Big Bang is genuinely apologetic for how they treat their ladies, and want them to be happy, but they’re too selfish to end things, and they know their girlfriends won’t end things either. The whole song is a vivid portrayal of a relationship that is slowly becoming toxic– nobody will leave, and they resent each other for staying.
The above lesson is given a gender-flip is Sunny Hill‘s “Bad Boys.” Unlike most female-biased songs about bad relationships, Sunny Hill fully concedes that bad boys are very attractive.
That crazy, manly, lethal charm
In just one glance, I fell for you
Through your sweat words like lollipop
I became your prey and I was baited by it
I guess I fell for it again,
though they call me crazy,
That is, until you start dating one. Bad boys are charming, but, as shown by Big Bang, not usually willing to change. The take-charge, I-do-what-I-want attitude that is so magnetic wears thin when you’re the one constantly getting pushed to the bottom of the priorities list. The mystery becomes secrecy, which breeds distrust, until something gives, and that something is the relationship.
Such a bad boy, so like you
That oath, that promise, that hard-to-hear apology –
I don’t need to hear it
With your words you play with me
You’re so stupid,
every time you open your mouth, it’s a lie
I can’t trust you, so just go play alone
And yet, there are songs that show why the bad boy keeps seeming like a good idea, even though we know they’re not. LedApple‘s “Bad Boys” is one such song. Here, we see the bad boy as someone sexy, free, and single. They’re not angling for anything serious, they just want to get drunk, get laid, and have a good time.
Everyone here, put your glasses up, one shot
Till the night is over put your work behind, nice shot
Worry only for a moment, time passes quickly
I can show you the way
I will give you my everything tonight, say ole
Nananana you will scream
Till the sun comes up…
Shout out loud viva la loca loca
I’m a man who is crazy for love
In this environment, it’s easy to get lost in the allure of a night of fun. People loosen up, throw back a few, and decide they want to feel good, damn the consequences. Who cares that a guy like this won’t remember your name in the morning when right now feels so damn good?
Of course, while most artists will only take on the label of ‘bad boy’ for a song or two, some have made that their image. Most successful at this is Jay Park, whose laid-back style and music has earned him a permanent reputation as a bad boy. Park, though, uses this to his advantage, by crafting a duality that few others can pull off, “Hot” being one of the prime examples.
Come to me if you want a good time
I’mma bad boy but at heart I’mma good guy
This is Jay Park in a nutshell. He’s got the charm and attitude of a typical bad boy, but a recurring element in his music is that when he falls for a girl, he’ll do his best to treat her right. Even with his one-night stands, his not interested in sex with a girl, but with that girl.
Just let it flow, the atmosphere is like water
You’re not grilling anything but baby you’re fire fire, hot
Got me like woah
Don’t be timid and even if the music turns off
Should you go home? Hell no
There is a level of respect in “Hot” for the girl in question that most bad boys just don’t have for the women around them. Instead of only thinking about himself, Jay is just as invested in making sure the girl he’s after is having fun. He’s a bad boy, but unlike Big Bang, LedApple, or Sunny Hill’s boy, not a bad guy.
The bad boy is omnipresent in pop culture. There will always be the choice of safety or risk, the sweet guy who treats you like royalty or the wild one who gets your blood pumping. And that means that the bad boy won’t be leaving our playlists anytime soon.
How do feel about bad boys, readers? Are there any that are your favorites?
(images via YG Entertainment, Starkim Entertainment, AOMG)