Human beings, at our very core, are social creatures. We crave connections with other people at a base level, the same we crave sleep or water. It doesn’t matter how much or little of a people person someone is either; sooner or later, everyone needs human connections to be whole. Of course, that tends to become apparent only when in the absence of such bonds. It’s why loneliness is such a cripplingly awful emotion to deal with. Like all unpleasant emotions, though, loneliness has slightly redeemed itself through the ability to inspire good music.

The obvious place to start is with Sistar’s “Alone”. While many breakup songs place the focus on the emotions that flourish when a relationship ends, “Alone” is about the empty place their boyfriend left.

Why am I eating alone again?
Watching movie alone
Singing alone and I cry and cry
You’re gone, regrets are useless
Alone again today

As much as Sistar is trying to keep moving forward with their lives, every moment is undercut by their awareness of the gaping hole in their lives. Literally, everything in their lives reminds them of their boyfriend. Even as they try to stick to a normal routine, the sudden shift to eating, drinking, and binge-watching alone is a throbbing reminder of the reliable companion they used to have. When even the small things scream in isolation, it makes getting over their breakup that much harder; less about moving on and more about finding someone, anyone, to fill the gap in their lives.

Of course, being in a relationship does not guarantee a lack of loneliness. That space where we expect a partner to be can be just as empty when you have a significant other, something highlighted in the Wonder Girls “Why So Lonely?”

I’m speechless The more I know, the more unsure I get
I don’t know why I feel lonelier
I feel like I’m locked in a room alone

Baby why I’m so lonely
I’m so desperate, but you’re not
Baby no, my heart
I don’t know when you will leave me

The Wonder Girls have successfully entered relationships with a guy they are head over heels for  . . . but it doesn’t feel any different from unrequited pining. They are just as lonely as before, and the frustration that their boyfriends don’t feel the same way is eating them alive. They want the romance and intimacy from the movies, want that head-over-heels, smack-dizzy in love feeling, and not only do they not have it, their boyfriend doesn’t seem to care. He brushes off their concerns, putting no effort into the relationship, and unabashedly lets the Wonder Girls stew about why having a boyfriend feels so much like being single.

Feeling lonely is not the purview of just romantic relationships, either. Friendships and familial relationships are just as effective at soothing loneliness as romance, and their absence can be felt just as keenly. “Super Star” by G-Dragon dwells on the price he’s had to pay for his considerable success; namely, having anyone around he can trust.

I’m just livin’ like I used to
My childhood wish
Even though I’m now living
Like the people I used to see on TV
I’m sad for some reason
The loneliness lingers
A part of my heart is empty

The idea of being lonely at the top is not new. Honestly, it’s pretty overused, especially in hip-hop, where rappers bemoan their loneliness amidst a pile of strippers, cocaine, and $500,000 cars that seem to allay the isolation. But with G-Dragon, there’s none of that. Sure, he obsesses over vintage wine and throws himself into work, but it comes across as a conscious effort to cope with the reality of living your childhood dream but having no friends. The loneliness is always there, a bitter undercurrent that taints whatever good things he has. So much so, that if you were to ask G-Dragon if his success was worth the loneliness, I’d give it 50/50 odds that answer is “no”.

Loneliness is a horrendous sensation of misery and abandonment with the power to damage whatever we use to fill the void. And the worst thing about it is how often we can’t fix it ourselves. Forging a genuine connection takes time, trust and effort on both sides, and that’s not always possible. When that happens, people will do anything to avoid the pain of isolation for one more day, like Jay Park and Sik-K in “Alone Tonight”.

I don’t wanna be alone tonight
So can you come with me
I don’t wanna be alone tonight
Can you keep me company
I don’t wanna be alone tonight
So can you come with me
I don’t wanna be alone tonight
Can you keep me company

One night stands are not a good way to cope with loneliness. But sometimes, the bad way is all you’ve got. Jay Park paints a picture of life: his days are full of touring, running a label, promoting his brand, and just living the hectic life of being a 30-year old entrepreneur. It’s not a life that leaves time for a serious relationship, and while it’s clear that the work-focused priorities are his choice, that doesn’t always help. He’s knowingly clinging to the illusion that this fling is something more because it’s all he’s got. It’s a band-aid on a stab wound. Still, the thought of having someone, even if it’s just for tonight, proves to be too tempting to pass up, especially when the real thing is not currently an option.

People are made to need people. It’s in our DNA. And when that need goes unmet, it cuts us down to the quick. So the next time you feel lonely, don’t stew in it. Call a friend, head out to the bar, or listen to some music to remind you that you might be alone, but there are many who have felt the same.

(Images via JYP Entertainment, Youtube, Lyrics from Color Coded Lyrics and Genius)