After her 2007 debut with the Wonder Girls, Yeeun has gone through multiple iterations of the pop star. From a stint promoting internationally, rebranding herself as Ha:tfelt for her solo debut with the mini-album Me?, the reforming of Wonder Girls as a four-member group with a band image, to the expiration of their contract which led to her leaving JYP Entertainment and joining Amoeba Culture. Since then, she has released various single albums such as Deine, which featured the song “Pluhmm.“
Something that has always struck me with her solo material is how much of herself she puts in her lyrics. In this month’s Music and Lyrics, we go through her solo material, focusing on some of her most honest moments. It is these moments that we can all relate to — the heartbreak, the frustrations, and the reminder that we can go on.
It would be weird if this feature did not have “Life Sucks,” one of several MVs released for her latest album, 1719. As the album covers the events of 2017 to 2019, and the singer’s mindset at that time, it’s only appropriate that it begins with “Life Sucks.” From the opening line of “For the first time in my 29 years, daddy sent me a letter,” fans already knew what this was in reference to: in 2017, her father was charged for embezzlement, and had used Yeeun’s name as a guarantee, despite the fact that he had long been gone from the family’s life.
If only I could go back and tell myself,
“Don’t u trust him, he already hurt u”
When u cried on ur knees, showing some regrets
wish I could’ve known better
People don’t change so easily, nah
People can’t change that easily
If only u meant all u told me that night,
but, guess I’d better blame myself
All throughout, there is an underlying rage at a situation that was unjustly put upon her. This is seen in the chorus, which starts with the line “Life sucks for everybody” and a beating pace that underlines that this situation has caused her to lose her “peace of mind.” While the context is unique to her situation, it is written in a way that allows the listener to place themselves in the song, and that allows the song to become belt-worthy. It is an ugly and honest song that doesn’t bother to hide its anger.
This isn’t the first time that Ha:tfelt has been honest. From her first solo release, “Iron Girl” was the first song of Me?, opening the album with a subtle declaration that Yeeun is someone who will “be alive, will survive.” As the first song that we hear from her as a solo artist, setting the tone for the mini album and her career, we hear her take control of her agency, in a way that says “The world sees what they want to see. But I’m more than just what you see.”
Just because I took a step back, you think I lost
Just because you can’t see me, you say it’s over
A crisis becomes a chance, scars become armor
No one can break it, I guard my heart, do you see that?
Featuring Lim, the track declares that Yeeun is the main character, and even as she is in the “process of growing”, she insists, “you can’t kill my passion.” It is a statement that even through adversity, through criticisms and all the other things we face in life, she will not be afraid at all. She’s “not gold, not shining silver” but is made of iron.
I learned how to face the pressing fear and fight against it. I only got wiser.
There are also songs wherein there is emotional tenderness. One of these is “Read Me” from 1719. The album covers the years 2017 to 2019, and it is in this song that we get a glimpse of the depression that she has opened up about.
You don’t even try
To open (my book)
You don’t even try
To look (at my book)
You’re only looking at the cover
I’d be nice if you could read me
While the opening lines (“I want to show you all my hidden feelings”) might seem like it is a love song, it can be seen as going deeper, with the slight plea that underlines the song throughout. People often only see the cover, the masks that we present to society, but most do not try to look beyond. This is what she is begging for.
Finally, there is “Nothing Lasts Forever,” the final track from Me?. The story behind this track is that a WonderFul passed away, someone whom the Wonder Girls members knew for some time. Because of this relationship, Yeeun grieved for the fan and wrote this song.
The sadder you were, the brighter you got
The more in pain, the more you laughed
You were curious about so many things
You had so much you wanted to do
Words I didn’t say to you back then
Words I couldn’t say to you back then
Different from the others, this was released in its pure guide track version. In doing so, Yeeun’s emotions and sincerity are clear to hear, whereas if it were to be re-recorded, some of this would have been removed for the need for a perfected vocal. The hurt and the grief is clear in every line uttered.
These four songs are just a small sample of Ha:tfelt’s lyrics. She covers a diverse range, all with simple and honest, even straight-forward, lyrics.