Back in the days when Infinite was starting to stand out among all the rookies and therefore starting to get all these ridiculous nicknames (because that’s something that happens in Korea for some reason), there were a few that were quite famous and one that was pretty accurate: ‘jipchak-dol’ or in other words, ‘obsession-idols.’
By that time, they were promoting “Be Mine,” but they had already released a couple of singles previously that sustained the nickname, namely “BTD” and “Nothing’s Over.” “BTD” is the traditional dark song about not being able to let go, with lines such as:
I can’t let you go like this, it’s suffocating
Because you must love me
I’ll hold on tightly so you can’t leave
However, it’s actually “Nothing’s Over” that looks all preppy and cute if you just look at the MV that starts showing the creepy obsessive love that’s going to become a constant in Infinite’s lyrics.
We can break up, yes that’s possible
But not like this (not like this) I can’t end it
You can’t meet another guy, you can’t already
It’s not over yet (not over yet)
Basically, all the songs by Infinite about obsession — and there are quite a few, as you can see — can be divided in these two groups: the ones about painful breakups, and the ones about literally not letting go.
It’s the second group that’s more representative though. I consider myself an Infinite fan, and that doesn’t stop me from shaking my head quite strongly when I read some of their lyrics — sure, they don’t write most of them (and the ones the members wrote are actually fairly normal) and sure, they have lots of songs with non-problematic lyrics, but there is something wrong with the relationships portrayed in some of their songs.
Let’s take a look, for example, at “The Chaser,” the title track of their 3rd EP Infinitize. “The Chaser” was actually really successful and helped them establish the fanbase that had been growing since “Be Mine,” and it talks, as the title hints, about a boy who after a breakup swears to follow the girl and get her back.
Don’t be sorry, you can abandon me spitefully and leave
If that’s what you want, yeah, good bye
But that doesn’t mean I have given up too
My love wins
As if I’m possessed, I chase after you, who is filled in my eyes
Somebody at Woollim Entertainment seems to think this is somehow romantic, because they had already used a similar formula in their previous single, “Paradise,” released right after “Be Mine.”
This place is a paradise only if you’re here
A paradise that has locked you in against your will
A sad paradise that you won’t go if you’re awake
A paradise that we can be together forever
Both these songs were actually written by the same person, Song Soo-yoon, Sweetune‘s main lyricist, but that does not mean he’s at fault for this trend. Even after they decided to try other composers the theme was still there. In 2013 they released the first single that wasn’t written by Sweetune in a long time, “Destiny.” “Destiny” did, again, portray a breakup and the obsession of the guy to win the girl back.
Don’t leave, don’t turn around, I can’t let you go like this
Even if you leave me like this, you can’t escape me
Cause you are my destiny
Whether the company felt the obsessive love theme fit their concept, or they felt they had to live up to the ‘obsession-idol’ title, we will never know, but we can find hints of it in other Infinite songs as well — such as “Be Mine,” “Last Romeo” or “Inception.”
And talking about unhealthy relationships, let’s not forget Infinite released the problematic “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2013 with an equally painful to watch MV that we already covered here. Since we already talked about it at length, let’s just remember some of the lyrics that made it worth talking about.
It’s way too short, what’s up with that skirt?
Why did you have to wear that on a windy day like today?
People are stealing glances at you, what’s wrong with you, it’s embarrassing
You think they’re looking because you’re pretty
Men are all wolves
You’re not even worried, you’re scoffing at me, making me into a narrow-minded man
Do you really not know?
But let’s not be negative here, there’s actually an easy way out of all this misrepresentations of what love should be: let the Infinite members write their own lyrics. Members Sunggyu, Dongwoo, Woohyun and Hoya have all tried, either writing full songs or rap parts, and it turned out to be quite ok. Woohyun wrote “Beautiful” for their mini-album New Challenge, which was actually quite lovely (cheesy, yeah, but what’s new in pop) and Sunggyu wrote his solo “Light” for their second album. While none of those songs are going to become famous for their groundbreaking lyrics at least they were light-hearted and, well, not worse than your average K-pop lyrics definitely.
Member Dongwoo actually wrote the rap parts for “Paradise,” and let’s say that it was not as conventional and even the members had a hard time trying to explain them (yes, we are talking about sex).
So Infinite, you don’t have to be obsession-idols forever. Actually, here’s my advice: if you want to stand out and have your own image, just let Dongwoo write all of your lyrics. I assure you, that will do.
(Lyrics via kpopquote and popgasa, images via Woollim Entertainment)