I was introduced to N.Flying through a friend who found their “Hot Potato” MV. To say the least, the band caught my attention. I could not quite believe that they were calling themselves “hot potatoes,” but knowing them better now, this humor and playfulness is what makes N.Flying uniquely them. Members Jaehyun and Cha Hun even have a YouTube called “2IDIOTS,” where their refreshing silliness and wonderfully over-the-top energy immediately add brightness to your day.
N.Flying have been around in the Korean music scene since 2015, although they first debuted in Japan two years before that. The rap rock band recently celebrated their sixth anniversary on May 20. Those who are more familiar with them know that while they are currently a five-member band, there has been some member shuffling in the past few years. Now, N.Flying consists of vocalists Seunghyub—who just released a solo album under the name J.Don—and Hweseung, guitarist Cha Hun, drummer Jaehyun, and the newest addition, bassist Dongsung.
The band may be more recognized for their humor, but they also carry with them a fiery, emotional side and a softness full of warmth in their extensive discography. N.Flying capture the nuances of who they are as a band, a depth that often comes as a result of experience and maturing together as a team.
“Up All Night” from their fourth mini album, How Are You?, maintains the high energy of N.Flying, complete with a catchy electric guitar hook from the very beginning. The upbeat tone of the track, however, contrasts with the vividly romantic lyrics as the members sing about staying “up all night” because of this person.
They attempt falling asleep with the classic method of counting sheep, noted in the line, “Sheep are jumping around in my head,” yet they end up “counting your stars” instead. The verse concludes, “It’s beautiful, my thoughts are as big as the universe / But I’m looking for your star without any sleep.” “Up All Night” might not be the most unique N.Flying track, but they seamlessly pair their vocal chops and enduring energy with the gentle imagery of their lyrics.
As may be expected from a song called “Sunset,” a song off their 2019 mini album Yaho, the colors practically jump out from the lyrics:
The night horizon eats the sun
Your face is there in the red sky
It’s a very nice day to melt in this scenery
The lyrics immediately conjure the bleeding colors of summer sunsets as the sun disappears above the sea’s horizon. Despite this calming image, N.Flying refuse to make their “Sunset” a tender ballad, even if the track closes the mini album. Cymbals crash as the song swings into the chorus, while Seunghyub and Hweseung’s voices punch the addicting rhythm, stressing the high notes and drawing back slightly before repeating the pattern. They keep the energy up until the last second, when Seunghyub loops his voice around an emphatic “Yo sunset!”
So, tong (Communication) brings the emotional fire of N.Flying, especially in “Last Song.” Seunghyub comes in a beat after the piano, the softness of his low notes weaving in-and-out of the sparse instrumental accompaniment. Meanwhile, Hweseung showcases how he balances his distinct vocals in this ballad context. The strength of his voice and his emotion complement the steady instrumentals and the heartbreaking lyrics, such as “You said you liked me / And you trusted me so much / That’s our last stage.”
Cha Hun’s electric guitar part that kicks in during the second verse also helps elevate “Last Song” from the slow ballad it started out as. He takes over the piano line that began the track, blending with the bass and steady drumbeat that buoys the ballad, morphing “Last Song” into something that can only be N.Flying.
“Comma,” from their newest release, Man on the Moon, also takes a mid-tempo ballad approach. The band experiments with their sound, stepping away from their typical use of a stronger drumbeat. In “Comma,” rippling piano chords, a muted beat, and sustained notes of violins accompany Seunghyub and Hweseung’s voices as they sing about needing a moment to pause.
Sometimes the last note of a lyric is held and curves upward, as if the vocalists are drawing a comma backwards. This creates a fascinating contrast with the lyric, “Draw a dot and draw it straight down.”
Although the path of a comma is not straight, there is certainty behind the lyrics of the track, especially these repeated lines:
I’m obsessed with life.
I think we should do something.
Leave all the plans behind.
I’ll cancel the appointment.
N.Flying want freedom in their lives, instead of following a schedule of events. They emphasize “doing,” yet, at the end of the chorus, they sing, “I need a comma Please take a rest.” Maybe their rest does mean the absence of “doing;” rather, they need a moment to just be until they continue once again.
A feisty fire dominates “Flowerwork,” a b-side off of their 2019 Spring Memories album. From the get-go, the autotuned voice and the brisk guitar hook tells listeners that this will show a different side of N.Flying.
The lyrics also present a dark humor side of the band. Their words balance between chaos and control, and it is not difficult to picture this energy translating into an electric and carefree performance.
Please don’t be humble.
Sometimes, just dance like you’re crazy.
Just do my thing, bro.
Let’s go see the flowers.
Then burn them all.
Hweseung brings out the power of his vocals as he belts “fire,” an intriguing image emerging when listeners consider the title of the track, “Flowerwork.” Possibly a play off of “firework,” N.Flying takes a usually harmless and beautiful part of nature—flowers—and pairs it with a man-made object that combines fun and an element of danger. A moment of clarity among the tumultuous emotions appears as they sing:
Light up on a dark night endlessly.
Even if you become ashes and disappear
Be fire and
“Pardon?,” from their Yaho mini, also portray this energy, but with more brightness and less of the edge that is present in “Flowerwork.” Once again, the electric guitar sets everything in motion, the drumbeats and claps following the bouncy “hm”s. This track feels like the day version of “Flowerwork”: the enduring energy of the vocals and instrumentals create a vivid picture in listeners’ minds.
N.Flying establishes the fiery tone quickly with the beginning lines, “What are you looking at? / What you sayin’.” They continue by almost spitting, “You know your style, don’t try to fit me.” The band can be youthful and full of humor, but they also know who they are as N.Flying and challenge those who question them.
When you listen to “E-YO” from So, tong (Communication), it makes sense why this track concludes the album. “E-YO” is dedicated to their fans, N.Fia, and the band writes this love into the lyrics:
You, who made me and supported me
Remember those days
A bright star in the stage called N.Fia is finally blooming
These words are conveyed with an earworm of a melody, gentle vocals, and a classic blend of N.Flying’s spirit and an unwavering drumbeat that supports everything else. “E-YO” possesses a gentler fire than, say, “Firework,” but it is no less memorable. Rather than a fire that can burn you, this song is a fire that can warm and nourish its listeners, as N.Flying sings, “It makes me smile / I like the feeling of gaining strength / Just by standing in front of you.”
Since N.Flying have been around since 2015, they have had time to experiment and establish their identity as a rock band. Although their title tracks highlight their unique humor, they have many more b-sides that exhibit their multitudes, particularly their vivid emotional depth. From “Flowerwork” to “Comma,” to “E-YO,” N.Flying explore their fire within, and, if their recent album is any indication, that fire is in no danger of going out.
(YouTube. Lyrics via Popgasa, Lyrics Translate, Kpop Lyrics. Images via FNC Entertainment.)