Woolim Entertainment’s Golden Child may be slightly awkwardly named — what happens when the members turn 30 after completing military service? — but their music certainly isn’t awkward. Since debut, the group has consistently put out straightforward pop titles that are pleasant to listen to and fit their quirky, youthful, and fun vibe.

Golden Child’s latest offering is no different. Released as a special single album, “Spring Again” is a sweet song for the spring. Ostensibly, the lyrics are about a boy who has confessed to a girl, and the song opens with:

How about you? Do you feel the same way?
Don’t just look at me with that unknown expression.

The boy is waiting for her reply, but she continues to give him a strange look and he becomes uncertain as to whether his feelings will be reciprocated. However, he does not regret confessing.

Then we’ll go, Oops! And when spring comes,
I hope you’ll realize my heart

Everything about the release, from the title which references ‘spring’ or the thawing of the cold weather and of the girl’s heart, to the MV and the lyrics, tie in neatly into this simple little concept.

What adds to the fun, however, is that there is no girl in the storyline of the MV. Instead, the members are alone, and play around a beautiful spring garden full of plum blossoms. The MV features solo shots of each member looking directly at the viewer in the camera, as they sing the lyrics. The boys are talking to you, the listener of the song and the viewer of the MV. The confession is meant for you, and the MV is an invitation into their world, this beautiful spring garden.

In contrast to songs about spring that feature bright and vibrant colours (think Exo-CBX’s “Blooming Day”), this MV has a lot of white. It can be found in the members’ clothing, in the grey skies and a building, and the garden full of plum blossoms that takes up much of the MV. The bloom of the plum blossom signals the end to the enduring of a long, bitter winter, and the arrival of spring, and with it, hope — an appropriate metaphor for an idol group trying to win over the audiences’ hearts.

Spring is here but my body temperature is still winter

The lyrics suggest that although the season “spring” is here, the members are still in winter without the love of the listener. In Confucian thought, the plum blossom is also associated with purity. Notably, as the words “Spring is here” are sung, the camera focuses momentarily on what seems to be pink cherry blossoms, before returning to the plum blossom garden for “my body temperature is still winter.” The cherry blossom blooms later than plum blossom, and the its bloom carries some romantic connotations. Both are flowers of spring, but we can infer that the white represents a pure love, not yet reciprocated as spring has not yet bloomed in the listener’s heart. (“But don’t mistake pure for boring!” cautions the sudden shot of falling fruit, “This is going to be fun.”)

As an aside, it is worth noting that N.Flying’s recent “Spring Memories”, about a fading love that the male singer seeks to rekindle, also features a garden with plum blossoms. It seems this year, spring gardens with plum blossoms have been taken to represent the hearts of men who want to rekindle/begin a love.

As if to help the members, the frames that outline the MV shift constantly — circular, rectangular, two sided bottom-top, two sided left-right or none at all — and take on different backgrounds. The MV is asking you: now that this boy has confessed his love, have you begun to see him any differently?  

Sadly, it seems the love will not be reciprocated.

In the end, I got angry, couldn’t even say sorry
And like that, things got mixed up between us

For fans, this is a playful theme as the boys have already won over their hearts, and for the casual listener, it can be a sincere confession.

As a city dweller, I cannot deny that the peaceful spring world in the MV is rather compelling. Perhaps it is the fictional “month thirteen, on the fifth season,” the little extra time the members want in order to show the listener their hearts.

I wish it was month thirteen, on the fifth season
I want to take a little more time to show you my heart

This is what Golden Child’s music is. Unlike the more aggressive hip hop posturing adopted by many rookie boy groups today, it is simple, feel good, K-“pop”.

But “Spring Again” doesn’t necessarily offer anything new from Golden Child’s earlier title tracks. The vocals here are smooth and mostly sung in a comfortable range, with main vocalist Joo-chan stepping up once again to the task of belting out the higher notes. The steady beat is carried along by an electric guitar and a very distinctive string. Of particular note is the whistle that opens the song, which sets the tone for calm and comforting music to follow.

Someday, we’ll go oops! and when spring comes
I hope you’ll remember my heart (hope you’ll remember)
Even if I’m not there (even if I’m not there)
Please know
My heart has waited for you until now

This song is a spring single, a greeting for Goldenness, not promoted in the traditional way of idol music on music shows and variety. Those who already like Golden Child’s music will like this song. I am unconvinced it will draw in many new listeners. As for me, I’ll turn to it when I want something sweet, uncomplicated and soothing, a reminder of the spring of 2019.

(Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery; Patricia Bjaaland Welch; 2013, Pop!gasa, YouTube)