As an introvert, I was one of those people who laughed at the idea of social distancing and self-isolation by saying that I am used to being cooped up in the house and limiting contact with other people. However, one thing I completely forgot is that there is a very distinct difference between wanting, and being forced to isolate ourselves from others. Want means that you have complete control over the situation: you are doing things you want to do. On the other hand, having to do so means you are put into this situation unwillingly, and now you are doing things simply because you have to do them.
This meant that I was staying at home and playing Animal Crossing because I had nothing to do, watching random Knowing Brothers episodes because I was bored, sleeping more because I needed to find a way to pass the time. I completely forgot how lonely it gets when you are forced to be alone, and once you start losing yourself in your own thoughts, you fall into an inescapable void. This is why the release of eaJ‘s “Rose” was well-timed–the track hits all the spots where you feel the most empty, but also provides you a sense of relief from experiencing this emptiness more deeply than before.
Many would recognise eaJ as Jae from Day6. Since their latest release, The Book of Us: Entropy, the members have been more active on social media, with Young K and Wonpil posting song covers on the band’s official YouTube channel, Dowoon keeping fans engaged with videos of him practicing the drums, and Sungjin who posts a daily lunch/dinner menu on his Twitter account (these daily updates have come to a halt because of the virus).
However, Jae is arguably the most active member of all. He has his own podcast How Did I Get Here?, he consistently updates his Instagram stories, and he now releases music under the name eaJ. eaJ is a personal project with no affiliation to JYP Entertainment, and Jae uses it as a platform to go back to his roots and explore different styles of music. All the tracks released are deeply personal, and “Rose” is no exception. But what sets “Rose” apart from the others is how it effectively uses melancholiness as a form of comfort.
Just like BTS‘ “Black Swan”, there is nothing remotely happy in this MV–it is simply depressing and melancholic in all aspects. Melodically, “Rose” takes on a psychedelic R&B sound, providing listeners with the feeling of floating around in a void, never knowing where the void starts and ends. Even when the song ends, listeners are left with a feeling of emptiness, almost as if nothing matters anymore, and it would be perfectly fine to isolate yourself from everything that is going on. The lyrics also add to that void, exposing one’s insecurities and making them vulnerable by bringing up situations that cause them to feel insignificant and worthless.
For the times when they hit you
Facedown in the ground with the wetsuit
Plant seeds but the tree never grow fruit
Shouting but they all got you on mute
The MV further adds to this mood by literally showing empty and desolate places. Such locations include a desert, space, and a white room. eaJ is all alone in these locations, and he never shows any hint of emotion in the scenes that feature him. When he is falling into the desert, he is not panicked or scared, but rather emotionless, almost as if he has accepted his fate and can’t be bothered to care anymore. Even when we get a close up shot of his eyes, they are absolutely devoid of emotion whatsoever, further adding to the feeling of isolation. The overall mood of the MV is muted, for there are no points of release in the song itself or images that impacts the viewer. Yet all these muted aspects come together to form one cohesive whole.
In fact, this emphasis on loneliness and isolation is strangely comforting. “Rose” encourages the listeners to embrace the void and see the beauty within the void from different angles. Towards the end of the MV, a final message is shown: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” It reminds us that we can get lost in the void for as long as we want, but only if we remember that there is hidden beauty everywhere. This message is prominent in all aspects–musically, lyrically, and visually. While we feel the emptiness while watching the MV, we still cannot help but be in awe when we see the beautiful landscapes shown, or when we simply replay the song over and over.
I can see my
blood on the floor
Or it might just be a rose
eaJ’s “Rose” is deeply upsetting yet soothing all at once–it encourages us to embrace the sadness and hopelessness of isolation, and see it as something positive and beautiful. Of course, there should be a healthy balance between sadness and happiness, but “Rose” reminds us that it is okay to be sad sometimes, and that everything will be okay.