Tablo of Epik High brings together Lee Sora and Suga (BTS) for a ballad titled, “Song Request.” Both the song and the MV come off as dull on the first listen and view. However, with every replay, you find that the song and MV have many layers to uncover.
The MV starts off with a man getting into a cab, and the radio station changing to “Song Request.” The female protagonist is on the bus, and then walking to her home. She doesn’t seem to know what to do with her night–whether she wants to take a nap or drink coffee. It starts to rain, and she looks out the window pensively. There almost seems nothing more to the MV until you break down the nuances of her facial expressions.
Although subtle, the protagonist goes through the stages of grief over a break-up. We see her distant and apathetic, depressed, confused, and sometimes happy. We’re able to figure these emotions out by looking at both her facial expressions and small actions. We see she’s indecisive about what she wants to do for the night. We see her look out the window, tear up, and sometimes smile. There’s a close-up on her fingers showing she digs her nails into her knuckles from anxiety. This relates to the lyrics of the song showing that the emotions after the end of a relationship are complicated. She’s isn’t just sad but has a variety of emotions that she’s struggling through.
Rain is typically used to create a gloomy atmosphere. However, both the radio DJ’s speech and song lyrics clarify on what it means in context to the MV. Towards the end of the song, the music stops and we hear the DJ ask who you think of when it rains, and what that means. Additionally, the lyrics of the song indicate that the rain brings back memories of her previous lover. The female character does look out the window as if thinking of her past lover. In the case of this MV, it’s a reminder of a lover while also creating a melancholic tone:
It’s raining again outside the window
These moments make me think of you
I can’t sleep
Maybe that’s just how it’s meant to be…
The song itself opens with a piano which builds up to a steady tune with the addition of strings. Both the melody and chorus are repetitive creating an almost boring tune. However, Lee Sora touches each word sorrowfully and delicately brings emotion into the song.
Despite being seemingly simplistic, the speaker of the song goes from asking for a happy to
Suga’s rap is steady with a somber tone that weaves gently into the song. His verses expand more about the concept of the cycle of relationships. He personifies love to describe how it can be both beautiful yet damaging. The rap is the highlight of the song with its artistic take on the cycle of love:
I’m happiness to someone and the soul to another
A lullaby to someone and at times a noise
I’Il be with you at your birth and your end…
Despite revealing all the layers, the song may still come off as dull when you listen to it on a superficial level. It’s not a song that may even be memorable or one that you’re eager to listen to on repeat. To truly appreciate the song, it takes looking at the visuals of the MV and listening to the lyrics. It’s subtle in its message and describes the many emotions that one endures with heartbreak. It isn’t just a “sad” feeling but an experience with a variety of stages and emotions. Both Tablo and Suga beautifully executed this experience through the lyrics of the song.
(Youtube, lyrics via Lyrics Kpop, images via White Knight Music Group and Big Hit Entertainment.)