Mother’s Day is celebrated annually, although on differing days for certain countries. For most of the world, it is celebrated on May 12 this year. This month’s Music and Lyrics pays tribute to mothers, looking at the lyrics of songs that dedicate themselves to the maternal figure in the family.
First is SNSD’s “Dear Mom,” a b-track to the EP of the 2009 juggernaut that was “Gee.” “Gee” was my first introduction to the girl group, and “Dear Mom” was my introduction to the vocals that aren’t showcased in their title tracks. The heartfelt melody is echoed in the lyrics, which, like the title implies, is addressed to their mothers.
I will become a warm-hearted person
I will become a person that puts others first
I will fulfill the wishes of your love
The person I share my dreams with
The one who used to comb my hair
I will think of my mom
The songs opens not with a mention of the mother but focuses on the daughter. The daughter is feeling empty until there is a phone call with the mother asking if they’ve eaten today. The words are simple but carry heavy weight – they are quiet words of care, a reminder that no matter what, there is someone else who cares. It is during the quieter moments that we recognize what our mother stands for – and for SNSD, it is a warm-hearted person who cared for them, cherished them, and thus they will become like their mother.
There is also Ra.D’s “Mother,” a track that asks “Why does my heart start to hurt like this? You’ve given so much, you can give much more.” This is the central theme of the track, a dedication to everything a mother has given up for the child.
I may not remember that first image of you, when I had first looked at you
But til my last moments, I’ll remember you
From the bottom of my heart, I’ll always love you
This heartfelt reflection is carried throughout: asking the mother not to be touched by small gestures from her child, for she has sacrificed so much. “Now I realize how hard it was for you, you cried a lot because of me,” is another extension of the core of the song’s message. It repeatedly makes a point that the little actions are nothing compared to everything that a mother gives up while raising a child.
I’m not going to lie – this song, on the right time, makes me and a blubbering mess. Different from several other songs on this list, Ra.D’s track has been covered by many other artists. There are covers from Jo Kwon, Yoseob, BTS’ Jin, and Jun.K. However, I would like to showcase the first time I heard the song: a special performance from VIXX’s Ken, which features his mother on stage with him.
BTS’ J-Hope also has a solo track named “Mama” from BTS’s 2016 album, Wings. This is different from the previous and next song on this list in the way it frames the message. It opens with training in 2006, the father opposing J-Hope’s wish to become an idol. Despite this opposition, which must have been a huge obstacle given the traditionally patriarchal structure of East Asian societies, J-Hope holds on to the support his mother gave him.
Over the phone, my mom’s voice
That I hear clear
What I remember is
My mom’s strength back then was my curveball, for real
I was determined to be strengthened
With that one promise
I became the son I am now
J-Hope goes on to declare that his mother can now lean on him, always by his side, that because of the unconditional support given to him, she can now smile as he returns the unconditional support to her.
In 2016, Kim Sejeong formerly of IOI and currently of Gugudan released the track “Flower Road.” While it isn’t obvious in the title, the track is also a song about her mother. This is present from the opening line, talking about childbirth being the child’s entrance into this cold world: “The world is so cold, colder than when I lived in you.”
Flowers are used as the main motif, repeated throughout but in several ways. The line “To raise a single flower” refers to Sejeong – flowers are often used in relation to a female, often a young girl. This is then followed with the question: “How much rain fell in your eyes?”
Even when winter comes
My heart is filled with the scent of spring
Because of your love
That never withers
As Qing mentions in her review of the music video, the message is heightened by Sejeong’s family background: her parent’s divorce when she was young and being raised by her mother. And because of this love Sejeong felt growing up, Sejeong concludes that she will make her mother only walk on a flower path – a path of happiness, a path far from the harshness winter can bring.
These are just some songs that are dedicated to the maternal figures of our lives. Several others include g.o.d.’s “To Mom,” Infinite’s “Mom,” The Ark’s sole release (“The Light”), Insooni’s “Mom,” and more.