Spencer W. Kimball once said “Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcefully”. Well, no disrespect to Spencer W. Kimball, but fuck no. Profanity is rude, crude, and taboo, but it most assuredly has a place in language. Profanities are some of the most powerful and variable words in English. Profanity exists to express sentiments and emotions that cannot be expressed otherwise, and there are occasions when it is fucking called for. Today, we’re looking at some of the times when K-pop had some fucks to give.

First up is the most recent, Big Bang’s “Fxxk It”. Sometimes you just lose the will to go on, to keep yourself moving forward when the present is weighing down on you, and you snap. Big Bang fully captures that feeling of being done.

Fxxk it, I Love y’all

Fxxk it, I Love y’all

Fxxk it, I Love y’all

Girl I wanna get down

“Fxxk It” uses profanity to enhance the frustrations and disregard Big Bang are feeling. The taboo nature of profanity goes hand in hand with the sentiment of blowing off everything. Responsibilities, consequences, tomorrow, they can all fuck themselves as Big Bang tries to find an ounce of fun and freedom as they cast off the world, and make sure the world knows it.

“Who the F*ck is You?” by Jay Park, Take One and B-Free is easily the most profane song we’re looking at, which makes sense. Rap music as a whole has a lot of profanity, and much of it is gratuitous, designed to make the rapper appear as hard as possible. But there are songs where profanity is put to its proper use of enhancing the point of the rapper, and this is one of them. Every time Jay, Take One or B-free swears, it builds the anger and resentment they feel towards a music scene that is co-opting the hip-hop aesthetic without any respect for the art. Honestly, without the cussing, “Who the F*ck is You?” would lack most of its emotional punch. The hook in particular benefits from Jay’s liberal usage of “fuck”. He asks “who the fuck are you?” instead of “who are you?”; using “fuck” as an adjective to draw attention to his own rage while simultaneously cutting his detractors and imitators down to size.

A similar song is Lee Hi’s “Fxxk Wit Us”, featuring Dok2. Here, Lee Hi is framed as the classy, feminine counterpoint to Dok2’s rougher, more aggressive perspective on a relationship the world is set against. Both Dok2 and Lee Hi swear, but the effect this has on the listener is quite different. When Dok2 raps “I’m just young and free/ but I be like fuck you just pay me”, the “fuck” doesn’t stand out much. Rap music is filled with cussing, and this is just another usage of profanity to bolster the badass persona Dok2 is evoking in the song. Contrast this to Lee Hi’s chorus.

World has turned it’s back on us like this
everything’s gonna be okay
cuz nothing can fuck with us
People are talking loud about us
don’t need to be afraid
cuz nothing can fuck with us

Here, “fuck” immediately grabs the listeners ear, because it is unexpected. We expect the rapper to swear, but not the controlled, feminine Lee Hi, as she is supposed to be his counterpoint. The subversion of our expectations gives her declaration that “nothing can fuck with us” greater weight. Indeed, the fact that Lee Hi, despite her calm aura, can only describe her and Dok2’s treatment with profanity is indicative of just how angry she is at the restraints being placed on them, and how desperate she is to escape them.

Ga-in also utilized expectations of the audience for greater affect in “Fxxk You”. While “Fxxk Wit Us” gave us first the expected swearing, then the unexpected swearing, it was the relatively sparse use that allowed Lee Hi’s “fucks” to retain their power: we settled back into the usual theme, then she swore and broke it again. Ga-in, on the other hand, totally inverts the usual dynamic of the expressive– read potty-mouthed– male and the icy female. Instead, Ga-in is the emotional half of the duo, and takes on the language as well.

Fxxk U,  don’t want it now
I don’t wanna lay down next to you as if it’s natural
Fxxk U, you know, Fxxk U
I don’t wanna do it like this

She is reduced to the most basic of all insults: “fuck you”. It is an amalgamation of everything she’s feeling as her boyfriend– played by actor and real-life boyfriend Joo Ji-hoon — blows off everything she’s saying. It’s bitterness, fear, pain, and rage as her boyfriend refuses to accept her refusal to sleep with him. Her “fuck yous” are the only way she can fight back, her only chance of making her boyfriend understand that she doesn’t want this. This only makes Bumkey’s responses worse. “Don’t say anything”, “This isn’t how I feel”, “We’re already in love”, “I’m not going”, and “Please believe me” all showcase someone who’s already made up their mind about what’s happening, damn what Ga-in says.

Profanity is a linguistic tool, and like all tools, there is a time to use it if you want the job done right. Any thoughts on when an f-bomb is fucking called for? Leave them in the comments!

(Images via YG Entertainment, AOMG, Nega Network, Lyrics via Color-coded Lyrics)