I simply hope that it is the frosty rain mingling with petrichor on the other side of my windowsill that conjures such gloomy and sorrowful feelings within me; It would make perfect sense to believe that this disconsolate yet fragrant season steadily emulates MBLAQ’s comeback as a three member group as of June 6th, as they took advantage of the melancholic romanticism of summer to showcase their true feelings. The issue of MBLAQ’s intent when returning to the K-pop scene with “Mirror” has been the focus of several interpretations with some vehemently sour and some hopefully sweet.
On a personal note, I acknowledge the bitterness and anger the remaining members felt towards Lee Joon and Thunder for leaving and sacrificing some of their relationship. I do believe that when bonds are broken there is something raw and empty to be felt. Yet at the same time, no one expected such a bitter partitioning of personal dreams and resilient friendship. I say let them have their dreams, and let them have their serenity, but do not let them hate one another.
In the likeness of a patient and heartbreaking allusion, “Mirror” creates the ambience of an unforeseen betrayal, which is externally represented in the MV through the boys parting with a lover. Similarly, the entirety of the MV and lyrics for “Mirror” distinctly paint this dishonest farewell in aloof colors that symbolize the truth of MBLAQ’s pain. This truth, it seems, is the breaking of a powerful bond between brothers.
Upon entering the MV, we are subject to a wistful road trip infused with a strikingly monochromatic cinematography, overlapped with G.O’s beautiful voice. The introductory scene begins to design a story in which MBLAQ are driving away from and leaving something behind. Perhaps physically they are driving away from the place where they last met their lover with a smile on their face and flowers in their hands, while emotionally they are attempting to drive away from its tragic feel.
I found myself constantly replaying this sentient passage — Mir sadly strokes what seem to be two crisp black suits laid across the seat beside him. As humans are laid to rest in graves upon their death, it seems that MBLAQ is creatively laid to rest in the remaining seat of their car with just previous memories of performing as group with Lee Joon and Thunder.
The substance of “Mirror” makes a potent message through the lyrics, more so than the MV as we see no significant plot. Even though MBLAQ are addressing a contemptuous lover (seen through a brief vignette with Mir meeting a young woman), the entire focus is detectably distant from the pain given by romantic love.
In “Mirror,” G.O’s pained vocals are desperate, declarative and decisive; he projects the feelings of a lover (or person) who has been hurt and refuses to follow the shadow of a once happy and celebrative memory. Correlating with G.O’s high vocal timbre are Seungho’s deep and frank lyrics. Though his firm and clear vocals, he projects feelings that smooth out and illuminate G.O’s emotive testimonies; the shadow of a once happy and celebrative memory causes him profound pain, and he wants it to take the blame for immiserating him. While asking their lover to look at the mirror and feel guilt for their actions, Mir crafts a conclusion to MBLAQ’s stages of expression with his aptly forceful but impactful rap.
I’m doing well, as if I’m happy
People around me ask about you
I don’t know but I’m sure you’re doing well too
I’m so busy, so much work to do
I have no time to think about you I took off all the dirty clothes
Whether dirty clothes, sad eyes or a heart full of regret, each lyric is sung with passion and pain and summarizes how much MBLAQ wish to get over their resentment. After the storm of expression and hesitant antagonism, the only thing left is for the one who betrayed them to look in the mirror and admit their wrongdoing. The musicality of “Mirror” situates it as a ballad, but it transforms into a mid-tempo piece accompanied by string instrumentals. Elements of melodic brevity combined with a lengthier chorus and rap make it a broad but enjoyable composition.
There are different degrees to which people respond to betrayal, whether romantic or platonic. It is a true fact the former is the subject of all K-pop songs and a suitable platform for artists to earnestly convey their emotions, but it must also be known that the latter has an especially poignant flair that comes without having to press hard for meaning.
The betrayal of a friend leads some to a darker and aggrieved space, while leading others to hurt but desire for amiability. “Mirror” has led me to decide that MBLAQ’s friendship is strong enough to allow them such profound pain and likewise pure enough to allow them a peaceful resolution. This song is about pain, helplessness, hurt, and anger; and this song is about dreams, forgiveness, understanding and brotherhood.