Suzy has returned after a year since her solo debut, using a familiar promotion strategy. Her pre-release single is a ballad exploring the end of a love affair. “In Love With Someone Else” is written from the point-of-view of a protagonist, taking all the blame for a break-up. The premise is a provocative stance, considering Suzy’s recent, highly publicised break-up with Lee Min-ho. Whether the subject matter of the song is coincidental or not, it adds complexity a somewhat generic release. The possible real-life parallels aren’t the only interesting aspects of the song; the way it’s written and executed takes a different look at an everyday scenario.

Suzy’s skills as an actress are front and centre in this song and MV. She and her partner believably portray the beginning and end stages of a romantic relationship. She convincingly participates in all the moments of skinship and is able to show strong chemistry with the male lead. She doesn’t really sing any of the lyrics but mouths them in a way that approximates dialogue. This gives the MV a more theatrical bent; turning the performance of the song into an acting exercise.

The instrumentation also keeps the focus firmly on the emotional content of the songwriting. It’s minimal and sparse, led by a piano, occasionally supported by cinematic strings. Suzy’s voice and performance of the lyrics are what bring interest to the song and the MV.

The lyrical content of “In Love With Someone Else” is the heart of the release. The lyrics explain the premise and give meaning to the decontextualised moments of heartbreak and affection seen in the MV. Suzy’s other love interest is never shown and the scenes of conflict between her and the male lead are subtly drawn. Without the explanation, provided by the lyrics, the viewer wouldn’t know that the reason for the break-up was Suzy’s mistake.

The song says the breakup is Suzy’s fault but never see her acting badly or falling in love with the other person. The visuals dwell on good times in their relationship and some fraught moments, including when Suzy makes her confession. The lyrics similarly don’t linger on anything that might make you like Suzy any less. Her love for another is completely separated and sanitised from their story to a point where it hardly matters. She speaks of her former love interest’s positive qualities and her fear that he won’t let her go. The song revolves around her ex-lover despite the title and refrain: his feelings take priority.

This approach works for Suzy, as the protagonist of the song, and for her public persona. She’s cast herself in an apologetic role, and through concentrating on her ex’s positive qualities, she deflects attention from speculation of infidelity. It’s a masterful way to control the narrative of the fictional break-up. Even the verses reflecting on the confrontation they need to have are about how she will turn the situation to her advantage, so that no one is hurt and she can continue her life.

How should I say this?
So you won’t get hurt?
With pretty words and just the right around of excuses
I was going to let you go and leave
Before you grab me when I stand up

The subject of the song and the MV is an everyday occurrence. The approach that is taken to exploring it is challenging in that the audience is called to view the break-up from the perspective of the person who is in the wrong. Suzy is incredibly sympathetic as a performer and humanises the character, so you focus on her intentions rather than the act of unfaithfulness. It’s a skilled performance with difficult subject matter to pull off. The song could have easily read as insincere or manipulative, but Suzy never seems that way. She’s able to show, what looks like, genuine emotion and a sensitive portrayal of a flawed character.

The song overall is more of a testament to Suzy’s acting ability than anything else, but the MV wouldn’t work without this specific song. In a sense, it’s a perfectly pitched two-hander: the visuals add to the beauty of the song, and without the song, the visuals lose meaning. “In Love With Someone Else” is an interesting exercise in balladry which elevates the concept from the ordinary to an exploration of a very human experience.

(YouTube, Naver [1],[2] Lyrics via Pop!Gasa Images via JYP Entertainment)